Medinea On Air
Country: United Kingdom
Mark Withers performs old music and creates new music, alongside an extremely diverse array of musicians. He has collaborated with numerous orchestras and opera companies in his own country and abroad. As a clarinettist playing both period and modern instruments, he has appeared with groups such as the Orchestre des Champs Elysées, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the Orquestra de Cadaqués, of which Mark was a member from 1988 to 2001 and where he has worked under conductors such as Sir Neville Marriner, Gianandrea Noseda and Gennady Rozhdestvensky.
Mark designs and leads creative educational and outreach projects, as well as training programmes for artists working in the field. He has worked with, amongst others: Accentus, the Association of British Orchestras, the Association of French Orchestras, the English Concert, the English National Opera, Fundació ‘La Caixa’, Glyndebourne, Insula Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris, the Royal Opera, the Academy of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Théâtre du Châtelet, and the Ulster Orchestra. Mark has helped to establish new creative educational programmes with ensembles, including the Hallé Orchestra, the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, and the Orquesta Nacional de España; and he currently directs ongoing programmes with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Festival d’Aix.
Mark’s initial training was at Cambridge University and the Guildhall School of Music, where he embraced mathematics and social psychology in addition to music. It is thus no surprise that much of Mark’s work focuses on the breaking down of interdisciplinary barriers. For four years, he was at the centre of the LSO’s educational activities at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence. His projects there ranged from the creation of film scores to work at a WWII transit camp with participants from the widest possible segments of the population in Aix and Marseille. A particular highlight was ‘Boras’, a piece imagined with choreographer Thierry Thieu Niang, based on lullabies from the Comoros Islands. The work made its world premiere at the 2012 Festival d’Aix and was reprised in London in 2013. Mark continues to work with the Festival d’Aix, particularly focusing on the development of young artists’ professional skills. For Creation (2009–2010) and Sleeping Sense (2016) with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Mark worked in tandem with scientists from Oxford University. In 1993, Mark’s Gamelan programme with the Hallé Orchestra was awarded a Gold Medal by Queen Elizabeth II for work of lasting value to the community.
Mark has a special interest in music for people with illnesses and with disabilities. He has spent time as a resident musician at the Royal Schools for the Deaf in both Margate and Manchester. Since 1998, he has directed the LSO’s programme for children in London Hospitals. From 2000 to 2004, he was also a staff member at Great Ormond Street Hospital for Sick Children in London, where he worked with children with cancer and heart conditions. Since 1995, Mark has been an advisor and a lead musician for the charity Jessie’s Fund, providing music for disabled and life-limited children throughout the UK. Jessie’s Fund’s work includes both long-term residencies and training; Mark directs their training programme for the staff of hospices and special schools.
© Vincent Beaume