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Image: Chad Spencer

As a student in the Booker High School Visual and Performing Arts program in the early 1990s, Marcus Ratzenboeck played the violin with the Venice Symphony and once even performed a concerto as a soloist. Now, after playing with the Louisville Orchestra, teaching at the University of Louisville and participating at Tanglewood, Spoleto USA and other prestigious music festivals, he’s returned to lead the musicians as concertmaster. Experiencing the Venice Symphony’s rise firsthand is exciting, Ratzenboeck, 42, says. “Everyone [here] has a mission to grow in anticipation of bigger and better things.”

Family Affair

“My dad was a professional soccer player from Austria and my mom is from Poland. [But] there must be some music in their blood. My sister, Karissa, is a violinist with the Venice Symphony, and my younger brother is a violinist with the New York City Ballet.”

It Started with a Guitar

“We moved to Sarasota from Chicago, where there was a decent school music program. My parents gave me a guitar when I was 6, and I would play [music from] cartoons and commercials. At 12 I was taking classical guitar lessons at a music store, when I just picked a violin off the wall and started playing. I discovered it was my talent.”

What Spare Time?

“I came back to Sarasota five years ago to be close to my parents, and opened a recording studio and rehearsal space, H&M Productions. I produce other artists from jazz to pop to rock to even hip hop. I do scoring for movies and commercials, and record audio books, and I coach people in the music-writing process. I also freelance with the Florida Orchestra, the Sarasota Orchestra and the St. Petersburg Opera.”

Down and Out

“I previously was in a rock band that was very successful, Tantric. We were signed with Warner Brothers. [Tampa Bay Rays infielder] Evan Longoria uses the violin riff from my composition, ‘Down and Out’ as his walk-up music. It was No. 5 on the Billboard charts at one time.”

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