Mark Christopher Brandt is a pianist, composer, and music educator who has been active in the arts and the Washington, D.C. professional music arena since 1977. Mark was born on February 2, 1961, in San Diego, California. At age six, his family relocated to Northern Virginia, where he first began to develop his musical talent and ability. He began formal music lessons at eight years old and was performing original songs to school audiences as early as sixth grade. His first professional club gig was at a piano bar in McLean, Virginia when he was just sixteen years old. By the age of eighteen, Mark was playing jazz, fusion, and pop music for a living.
In 1979, Mark graduated from Chantilly High School and then attended Catholic University (CU) in Washington, D.C. as a classical piano performance/traditional composition major, working nights and weekends as a professional keyboardist with a local jazz and pop group. After three years at CU, he entered the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts where he completed his formal education studying jazz composition and arranging. In 1986, after performing in a variety of groups from Stowe, Vermont to Orlando, Florida, Mark returned to Northern Virginia and established himself as a jazz and fusion musician of note.
While embracing the study of jazz and improvisation in his artistic expression, Mark has stayed close to his imitation of the Baroque era composer, J.S. Bach, and the Romantic era composer, Frederic Chopin, in particular, who preferred small and intimate settings for performance and who always preferred the company of his students to that of audiences of any size.
As both musician and music educator, Mark has continually pushed the envelope of artistic standards and integrity throughout the Washington, D.C., Northern Virginia, and Maryland areas. His East Coast Duo has become a highly rated and highly sought after jazz group for events, ranging from weddings, to high profile corporate and political functions and fund raisers, performances at assisted living centers, the National Christmas Tree, and many of the most reputable and nationally notable hotels and political establishments in the District of Columbia.
From 1987 until 1991, Mark honed his craft as an improvising pianist, playing jazz standards seven hours a day at the Ramada Renaissance Hotel near Dulles Airport from 4:00 to 7:00 pm in the cocktail piano lounge, and then again in the Jazz Club upstairs from 7:00 until 11:00 pm, while working in a trio setting of piano, bass and drums on weekends. In 1995, Mark released his first recording entitled Veritas, drawing the interest of several major labels and increasing his reputation as a creative force in the Washington, D.C. area. It was during this time that Mark began to formulate both his independent label and his private instruction studio under the banner of Lionheart Music East. Mark has since released ten CDs, three DVDs, and performed at many of the major venues the Washington, D.C. tri-state area has to offer.
From 1995 until 1999, Mark continued to perform and record while establishing himself as a respected clinician and educator throughout Northern Virginia. In 2000, Mark stepped away from performing and recording in order to concentrate on his faith, his family, and his students. In 2008, he began to perform again in jazz trio and duo settings, and in 2013, he founded No Explanations with guitarist Dan Leonard. From 2013 to the present moment, Mark has remained active as a performing improviser, composer, and educator.