Mark Sylvester composes and performs instrumental guitar music. His many influences include folk and world music, J.S. Bach, cool jazz, prog rock, American primitive, and contemporary guitar music. Mark's first solo CD, American Gypsy, is a collection of 15 original pieces for solo acoustic guitar. DC-area public radio listeners may have heard Mark's "Dance of the Misfits" on WAMU during talk shows and news breaks.
Since his late teens, Mark has also performed as a singer/songwriter. For several years Mark performed with the avant-folk group, Tree Surgeons, and his original songs appeared on their two CDs, Eye of Time and Witness. He is currently recording stripped-down versions of his original songs in a collection called Songs of Youth.
In 2005, Mark joined with a group of like-minded musicians and composers interested in contemporary music to form Great Noise Ensemble (GNE). Since then, the group has performed at venues such as The Kennedy Center, The National Gallery of Art, Strathmore Mansion, The Sidney Harman Hall, The Hirshorn Gallery, Symphony Space, the Catholic University of America, Atlas Performing Arts Center, and the Bang on a Can Marathon. GNE has premiered many of Mark's recent compositions, including his Banjo Chamber Concerto, as well as the compositions on Mark's New Music for Banjo, which was awarded the 2009 WAMMIE Award for Classical Recording. Mark has performed with GNE on acoustic and electric guitars, banjo, mandolin, ukulele, and bass guitar. Mark is GNE's Audio Technician and primary concert recordist, and he produced GNE's CD, Guerrilla New Music.
For the past five years, Mark has enjoyed playing guitar in Selling Fairfax by the Pound, the DC area's premiere (and, well, perhaps only) Genesis tribute band. Mark is also a founding member of Trio Trela, whose repertoire is an eclectic collection of folk tunes and melodies from around the world, especially from the Mediterranean region. Mark has collaborated, performed, and recorded with many other DC-area groups and singer/songwriters, including Jane Franklin Dance, Congressional Chorus, Inscape Chamber Orchestra, Wolf Trap Opera, Prince George's Philharmonic, Trifilio Tango Trio, MetroSongs, Ben Tufts & Friends, Verlette Simon, Fred Smith, Lea, Carey Creed, and Sense of Wonder.
Through his association with The Only Animal, a theater company based in Vancouver, Canada, Mark has composed and produced full-length scores for two of the company's largest and most ambitious productions of site-specific theater: NiX and Other Freds. Mark's acclaimed score for Other Freds was nominated for a Jessie Richardson Theatre Award, while the production earned The Only Animal a Jessie Award for Expanding the Scope of Site Specific Performance.