Passings: Music Professor Michael Marcuzzi was a passionate musician and educator

Professor Michael Marcuzzi singing and playing the hand drum

Professor Michael Marcuzzi singing and playing the hand drumProfessor Michael Marcuzzi, a passionate musician and educator, died on Sept. 27 following a long battle with cancer. He was 46 years old.

An alumnus of York University (PhD ‘05), Prof. Marcuzzi was cross-appointed to the Department of Music, Faculty of Fine Arts and the Faculty of Education. He was a member of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and a Fellow of Winters College.

Prof. Marcuzzi was a performer, arranger, composer, ethnomusicologist and teacher whose research and creative work encompassed classical, jazz, Cuban, Latin and popular music. He served as a graduate student advisor to many who describe him as a completely devoted and formative educator, brilliant, quick-witted, and generous with his time.

“Through his work in the Department of Music and the Faculty of Education at York University, Michael Marcuzzi has influenced hundreds of music educators with his expertise and with his passion for the subject,” said his colleague William Thomas, professor of music in the Faculty of Fine Arts. “His personal belief in the value of music education was clearly demonstrated in his efforts to start a Latin Big Band for local high school students and in his work with the Regent Park School of Music, providing music instruction in Toronto’s disadvantaged neighbourhoods.

“As a colleague, one could only be impressed by the breadth of Michael’s knowledge and abilities. He was a remarkable educator, an accomplished musician, and a respected academic who freely shared his expertise with colleagues and students,” said Thomas. “I will always admire Michael’s conviction and his willingness to speak up for what he believed in. His contributions to the Department of Music and his friendship will be greatly missed.”

Alongside his teaching responsibilities at York, Prof. Marcuzzi joined the Regent Park School of Music in 2011, putting in countless volunteer hours to ensure children had access to music education. He performed with symphony orchestras in Windsor, Detroit and Mississauga, and as a freelance trumpeter with numerous artists in Canada, the United States and Cuba.

His credits as an arranger and composer include work with the Canadian Brass, University of Memphis Jazz Orchestra, and Toronto-based Latin ensembles Orquesta Fantasia and Pacande. He was a global authority on both Cuban popular music and Afro-Cuban sacred music, lecturing and publishing around the world. He collaborated in curating the Afro-Cuban exhibit of The Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona, and served as a consultant for its Latin American gallery.

Prior to joining the full-time faculty at York University, Prof. Marcuzzi taught for 10 years at the university and secondary school levels and in community settings in Windsor, Toronto and California. As well as York, he was a graduate of the University of Windsor.

A funeral service has taken place. A memorial and tribute concert for Prof. Marcuzzi will be held in Winters College Dining Hall at York’s Keele campus (Room 001 Winters College, 72 Winters Lane) on Wednesday, Oct. 10. Friends and colleagues are invited to gather at 6:30pm, with the full program to begin at 7pm. At 9pm, guests will be invited to join friends and family in the Senior Common Room, 021 Winters College.

A renewable entrance bursary in memory of Michael Marcuzzi will be established at York to support a promising young artist entering first year of studies in the Department of Music. Donations are welcome, and may be made online or by contacting Danielle Ludwick by e-mail at in the Development Department, Division of Advancement. Gift cards will also be available at the memorial event.

Alternatively, friends and colleagues may wish to make a gift to the charity of their choice.

Prof. Marcuzzi was the loving father of Daniel, Sofia and Danica and partner of Melissa Noventa; long-time friend of Bernardo Padron; and a cherished friend and colleague to many at York University. The family requests that friends share their memories and photos of Prof. Marcuzzi, click here to access the memorial web page.

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