MUSIC AND BEYOND
From first establishing an education and outreach programme with the Hallé Orchestra between 1990 and 1995, Mark has worked with orchestras, opera companies, concert halls and festivals exploring how their outreach programmes can meet the needs of the communities in which they are situated and how these programmes can best operate within the organisation itself. With the Barbican Centre in London, Mark addressed problems of limited space available for activities. With the Orquesta Nacional de España, he identified which communities to prioritize for collaborations in the vast metropolitan area of Madrid. This work embraces numerous small ensembles and individual artists and continues with the Medinea programme where Mark supports young Mediterranean musicians in developing intercultural projects that enhance dialogue, transmission, and mobility in Mediterranean.
ORCHESTRE PHILHARMONIQUE DE RADIO FRANCE
The OPRF benefited from a wonderful set of circumstances in developing a creative outreach programme. The group of 140 amazing musicians, the studios and concert hall of Radio France, the enormous collection of orchestral percussion instruments, the deep commitment of its music director and the knowledge, commitment and integrity of its administrative team. Mark devised numerous programmes with the orchestra, of which continued for many years, often in collaboration with such landmark institutions as the Théâtre du Châtelet and the Musée d'Orsay.
Photograph © Christophe Abramovitz.
"At the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France, we spent nearly 10 years with Mark Withers, developing a programme of workshops and large scale musical creations for young people. He knows how to unite and guide his audience, all the while allowing them to explore their creativity. Everyone feels valued and leaves certain that they have taken part in something important and of significant artistic richness. The musicians of the Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France are at one with Mark and are very conscious of what he brings to them. They approach all of their work with children with joy and determination, whether at Radio France, in schools, hospitals or for UNICEF, for which they have been ambassadors since 2007, working with and on behalf of children in great need." - Cecile Kauffmann, Head of Education and Cultural programmes, Orchestre Philharmonique de Radio France.
The Ulster Orchestra faced a unique challenge in 2016, looking to engage each and every one of the orchestra's members in outreach activities. Mark worked with the orchestra's administration team supporting this vast expansion of activities, identifying styles of work that would be appropriate for the musicians whilst making a valuable contribution to the community and delivering training modules to musicians who were extending their skill base.
"What I admire about Mark is his ability to be a builder of confidence with a complete range of people whatever their background, combined with an insistence that everyone digs very deeply into their creativity and personal excellence. He is unwavering in his optimism and expectations and I have personally benefited hugely from this characteristically Mark approach." - Richard Wigley, Managing Director, Ulster Orchestra.