YourClassical MPR's Project DJ

Guest co-host Marcus Jensen loves to read, bake and make music

Marcus Jensen enjoys cooking as well as making music.Provided

April 21, 2021

Marcus Jensen joins Steve Staruch as the guest co-host of this week’s Project DJ on YourClassical MPR.

Jensen is 16 and plays piano and cello. Johann Sebastian Bach and Frédéric Chopin are his favorite composers, but when he isn’t sure what he wants to listen to he goes to George Gershwin. A fan of the Great British Baking Show, he has improved his baking skills this past year and his “signature bake” is a chocolate raspberry cake. Also an avid reader, Jensen is an asset to his Quiz Bowl team.

What are you currently reading?

“Currently, I’m doing a lot of rereading — I always have. I find books that I like, and then I enjoy reading the same stories and seeing what new details I can find. It’s not an adventurous method, but it’s very comforting to know exactly where the story will go and that everything will turn out the same way no matter what different meanings I might find. I’ve been enjoying Leigh Bardugo’s Six of Crows duology and her standalone Ninth House, an unusual read for me as it is dark, but the villains get satisfying comeuppances that I look forward to every time. It makes their evil little acts bearable.

“I also love Amor Towles’ A Gentleman In Moscow and Rules of Civility. In both books there is at least one passage alluding to rereading — in the former, the main character is rereading Anna Karenina — and in the latter, the main character is rereading Great Expectations. Both characters decide that ultimately, while no one applauds rereading, it is a simple pleasure of life.”

How did you get involved in Quiz Bowl?

“I first got involved in quiz bowl because one of my friend’s older siblings was in it. I went to the first practice and I enjoyed it. Turns out knowing random facts from very obscure niches of knowledge sometimes gets you points! Essentially, the moderator reads off a clue with a specific answer that, as the clue progresses, gets clearer and clearer. You get points for getting the question right, and extra points if you get it before a certain key word or phrase. My favorite question to date started off with something relating to a clothing item at the Charge of the Light Brigade at the Battle of Balaclava during the Crimean War (the very obscure part) before pivoting to the title track of Taylor Swift’s Folklore album, (the somewhat less obscure part) which is named after the sweater variation the question was looking for: cardigan.

“The questions are about any and everything. I would say I’m pretty competitive. I remember a story from when I was little where, after going mini-golfing with some family friends, my dad was pulled aside and told it was slightly scary how quickly I switched from happy-7-year-old to evil-mastermind-focused-only-on-winning once we started.”

What sparked your interest in baking?

“I don’t know if there’s one date I can point to and confidently say ‘Yes, this is when I got interested in baking.’ It’s something that’s always been present in our family. My dad has been baking and continues to make chocolate chip cookies every other week. I really enjoy baking/cooking, and then eating what I make. It brings a great sense of independence. It’s also a great confidence booster. You can point at something and say ‘Yes, I made that! Me!’ and then eat it and be happy. I think food and music are two of the most formidable languages of joy that we as humans have to express ourselves and bring others together.

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