The man who built Garfield High’s musical empire | KUOW News and Information

The man who built Garfield High’s musical empire

Dec 4, 2017

Marcus Tsutakawa is the youngest in a family of famous Seattle artists. He found a way to make his own mark on the cultural landscape of the city by molding Garfield High School into a classical music powerhouse.

When Tsutakawa took the job in 1985, the school orchestra had only 10 or 15 members. When he retired in 2016, Garfield boasted three orchestras, with more than 100 participating student musicians.

Tsutakawa and his siblings were surrounded by the arts their whole lives. While his father was focused on visual art, his mother introduced a love of music. But Tsutakawa says he felt no pressure to follow in either of his parents' footsteps.

“I was my own self,” he says. “I didn’t feel I had to live up to any expectations from my parents.”

Although Tsutakawa is no longer teaching at Garfield, he’s still involved with young musicians as the director of the Seattle Youth Symphony’s Junior Orchestra. As a celebrated teacher, he could have worked anywhere in the country, but he chose to stay in his hometown.

In fact, he lives across the street from the house where he grew up.

“I love Seattle," he says. "I love the weather."

More important: “My family is here, and family is so important.”

Listen to an interview with Marcus Tsutakawa above and learn more about the legacy of the Tsutakawa family.