Mark Torsney, a trumpet player, pianist, composer, and guitarist, is the band director at Georgia-Cumberland Academy in Georgia, a position he has held since 2008. A gifted musician, he has performed in a variety of musical genres and received a number of awards.
Mark was one of two children adopted by Richard and Dorothy Schultz Torsney. He grew up in a home where music was an important activity and was an ever-present background. He started piano lessons at age five, when a neighbor gave him a Christmas gift of some music lessons, and started trumpet in the 5th grade.
He attended East Meadow High School in Long Island, New York, which is ranked as one of the top 100 high school programs specializing in the arts in the U.S. It provided a multifaceted music program with a marching and concert band, jazz ensembles, choirs, orchestras, and free music lessons. Noteworthy performers in the area taught these lessons and Mark was able to study with Ken Sepe, a freelance player on Broadway. The marching band played in Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade every year.
They also presented musicals every year, which during Mark's time at the school included Grease, Bye Bye Birdie, and others. He was a player in the pit orchestra for those productions, played lead trumpet in the jazz ensemble, and was principal trumpet in the concert band. He was recognized for his contributions when he won the John Philip Sousa and Louis Armstrong awards in his senior year. During his high school years he was also a winner in New York State competitions in piano and trumpet and played principal trumpet in an all-state band.
Torsney was the only Seventh-day Adventist in his high school and felt when he graduated in 1994 that he wanted to go to an Adventist college. He enrolled at Southern Adventist University as a scholarship student, where he studied piano with Bruce Ashton and trumpet with Pat Silver and Larry Black, a member of the Atlanta Symphony.
When he graduated from SAU in 1999 with a degree in music education, he directed the band and assisted the football coach in a public middle school for one year. At the end of that time he left to start a rock band, in which he played guitar. During the five years he had the group, it recorded two albums of music for which he and a friend, Ernie Dempsey, had written the music and lyrics.
Beginning in 2003, he began to work in the music program at Spalding Elementary School and Collegedale Academy in Tennessee, giving lessons and eventually working as an assistant to band director Richard Hickam. In addition to working with Hickam, he also assisted in the choral program, taught introduction to music, started a jazz band, and directed two musicals, The Music Man and The Sound of Music.
Source: Interview, 2008.