Mark Withers’ interview

Mark Withers, you direct LSO Discovery, the London Symphony Orchestra’s educational program. What is the LSO’s approach to music education?

Education is central to the LSO’s activities. The orchestra is a resource not just for concert goers but for the widest possible community. This embraces a vast range of activities ranging from the training of young professional musicians to work with children in hospitals across London.

Concert du Junior Orchestra avec les musiciens du London Symphony Orchestra

You conduct the Junior Orchestra for the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Could you tell us a little more about this?

The Junior Orchestra brings together the energy and enthusiasm of musicians at all levels. Some have played their instruments for only a few months, others are highly skilled professional musicians. This group of around 150 comes together, rehearses, devises its own music and performs with great intensity, providing a learning experience of unusual quality for all concerned.

The children of Orchestre à l’Ecole in Marseille and Gardanne are among the participants in this great adventure. What do you think about this original approach, which promotes playing music in a school orchestra as a way to help end social inequality?

From my perspective this is a fantastic initiative and it certainly adds to the Junior Orchestra having these young musicians taking part. For me, Orchestre à l’Ecole is a programme that should be given great attention and developed to provide further opportunities for more young people and ongoing work for those inspired by their participation in the work.

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