Outreach skills session
Country: United Kingdom
For over 30 years, Mark Withers has been performing old music and creating new music working alongside the widest possible range of musicians. He has collaborated with numerous orchestras and opera companies in his own country and abroad and has worked for many years with the London Symphony Orchestra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. He has helped to establish new creative education programmes with ensembles including the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France and the Orchestra Nacional de Espana. Mark has collaborated with insula/accentus and the Orchestre de Chambre de Paris since 2013.
Mark’s initial training was at Cambridge University and the Guildhall School of Music and embraced Mathematics and Social Psychology as well as Music. As such, it is no surprise that much of Mark’s work breaks down barriers between disciplines. He was at the center of the four years of the LSO’s education activities at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Projects there ranged from the creation of film scores to work at a WWII transit camp with participants coming from the widest possible segments of the population in Aix and Marseille. A particular highlight was “Boras”, a piece devised with choreographer Thierry Thieu Niang, that was based on lullabies from the Comoros Islands. The piece was created for the 2012 Aix Festival and reprised in London in 2013. Mark continues to work with the Aix Festival, particularly looking at developing skills in young professional artists. “Creation” (2009-10) and “Sleeping Sense” (2016) with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment brought Mark together with scientists from Oxford University. In 1993, Mark’s Gamelan programme with the Halle 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 sickness and disability. He has had periods 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 of work for children in London Hospitals. From 2000 to 2004, he was also a member of staff 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 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 and Mark directs their training programme for hospice and special school staff.
© Vincent Beaume