outreach work – project manager

In 1994, Mark Messenger was appointed education projects manager for the English Symphony and String Orchestras. This was a relatively new venture for the organisation, and within a couple of years, the players were involved in a broad raft of activities within the West Midlands which were relevant both to the orchestra and its core activity, and to the community they served.

Instrumental in this success story was the work of Colin Riley who Mark brought in as composer-in-association. In 1995, the ESO commissioned from Colin Riley a youth opera, “Gulliver”. This project was heralded as best practice within this genre as it was both musically challenging, but inclusive to the whole community.

The ethos which underlines the many diverse projects that Mark Messenger constructs and delivers is one of inclusivity. The opportunities afforded by any such venture should be on going and have the facility to have cohesion with other musical endeavours that already exist with the area. Thus, his outreach work within Essex can be viewed holistically as part of a ladder of opportunity that starts in primary schools, has cohesion not only with school activity, but also with youth ensembles (for music specialists) and youth group, through to support for A level projects and students within Higher Education. Adult learning too is a crucial part of this structure, and the dividends of this can be seen directly in enhanced audience figures for live performances.

Consequently, many orchestras, promoters, local governmental and funding bodies have sought advice from Mark on the construction and delivery of their outreach work. He was recently involved in a three-year residency in Colchester, an association between the Academy of St. Martin in the Fields and Colchester Borough Council. Since his appointment as artistic director for London String Quartet week he has done much to construct and deliver an inclusive outreach policy as well as changing the very nature of the concerts themselves. He is currently in discussion with the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea over a revival of “Gulliver”. His work at the Royal College of Music underpins his commitment to education work and he has forged links between the Royal College and many schools in London and the Home Counties.

References from Colin Riley , Academy of St. Martin in the Fields