Marisa Thornton-Wood (married name Cornford) studied at Chetham’s School of Music between 1982 and 1990

While she was there, she learnt piano with Ryszard Bakst and David Hartigan. She then went on to read Music at Edinburgh University, studying the piano with Peter Evans. There, she won the Tovey Memorial Prize for performance, the Clutterbuck Award, a bursary from the Scott Hope Trust Fund, and performed four concertos with orchestra.

She gained a scholarship to study at Mannes College of Music in New York with the Cuban pianist Jacob Lateiner, where she completed a Masters degree in piano performance. Marisa has given recitals as an accompanist and soloist in France, Germany, Austria, the USA and UK, including at the Pump Room, Bath and St Martin-in-the-Fields. She began her teaching career in the piano faculty at Wycombe Abbey School in 1997, where she also composed and directed five works for children’s theatre, including Peer Gynt and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Marisa's original music of the latter is going to be performed in A Shakespeare Soirée at The Globe Theatre London in March 2016.

Marisa was also Director of Music at St Piran’s School until 2016, when she left to become a freelance pianist and musician. Marisa has been performing with Dutch mezzo Jacobine van Laar for over 15 years; together they give masterclasses at the Dutch Barn in Holland each summer. Marisa also regularly plays in the Cornford Duo, with husband Dan, who is a viola player.