Ward Marston

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Recording restoration engineer Ward Marston, blind from birth, has achieved a reputation as a miracle worker in bringing old recordings to life. His unerring ear has enabled him to extract sound from…
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Recording restoration engineer Ward Marston, blind from birth, has achieved a reputation as a miracle worker in bringing old recordings to life. His unerring ear has enabled him to extract sound from vintage discs previously obscured by primitive equipment. The results of his exacting labors are a series of recordings, some for his own label, revealing the full glory of many irreplaceable performances. His personal collection now numbers some 30,000 discs, 78s, and cylinders both vocal and instrumental. Several of his restoration projects have won prestigious awards. Marston began playing piano at age four. Formal training followed when he attended the Overbrook School for the Blind from 1956 to 1964. At 12, he entered public high school, continuing his training in both piano and organ. At 15, he formed his own jazz group and also studied in France for a summer, pursuing advanced organ studies with Pierre Cocherau. While a student at Williams College, Marston served as a radio host and began to apply himself to recording and broadcast engineering. With the skills he had acquired, he began working for Columbia Records, and later, the Bell Telephone Laboratories and the Franklin Mint. Meanwhile, his jazz interests had led him to music performance. He has substituted for Bobby Short at New York's Café Carlyle, played at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, led a dance band for a White House social affair, and played other similar engagements from coast to coast and as far away as Turkey. Seeking to attend as many other live performances as possible, Marston has insisted that keeping the sound of live music in his ears has aided him in reproducing a live and present sound in his restorations. Among projects for Romophone is his superb restoration of legendary discs by Rosa Ponselle and Elisabeth Rethberg. For his own label, he has undertaken restorations of Pathé recordings by some of France's greatest singers of the 1920s, vocally refined and interpretively incomparable. Marston has endeared himself to vocal connoisseurs with his series of opera restorations for Naxos Records. For that label, he has brought to peak technical level such treasures as the Flagstad/Melchior Covent Garden Tristan und Isolde, the Arangi-Lombardi La Gioconda, the Thill/Vallin Werther, the Merli/Scacciati Il trovatore, the Caniglia/Masini La forza del destino, and many other indispensable items.