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Mark Churchill – Founding Director, ESUSA

Educator, conductor, and cellist Mark Churchill is Director of El Sistema USA and Dean Emeritus of Preparatory and Continuing Education and Senior Advisor of New England Conservatory. As Dean and Artistic Director of the Department of Preparatory and Continuing Education for 30 years, he developed and oversaw programs emphasizing serious, professional training for pre-college students and adults in addition to numerous community based programs and local, national, and international partnerships. Most recently he spearheaded both El Sistema USA and the Abreu Fellows Program at NEC.

Dr. Churchill is an active advocate for the improvement and expansion of music education programs in American schools. For many years he oversaw NEC’s Center for Music-in-Education, which featured the development of new music education curricula and music teacher training programs. Along with Venezuela’s José Antonio Abreu and Hilda Ochoa Brillenbourg, he founded the Youth Orchestra of the Americas in 2001 and continues to serve, with Dr. Abreu, as its co-chair. The YOA draws gifted young musicians from throughout North and South America. In 2005 he led the signing of a “Friendship Agreement” between New England Conservatory and Venezuela’s massive youth orchestral training program, El Sistema. He serves on the boards of a number of non-profit organizations including Project STEP, a pre-professional support program for string students of color; the Conservatory Lab Charter School, a K-6 public inner-city elementary school offering a music based curriculum and a fully integrated El Sistema program for all students; the Walnut Hill School, an independent school for serious high school age art students; the Quincy Jones Musiq Consortium, an initiative with the mission of bringing together, supporting, and advocating for all quality music education programs in the US; the Youth Orchestra of the Americas; and, formerly, the Berkshire Institute for Theology and the Arts.

Having served as Associate Conductor of the Boston Ballet from1992 to 2010, Dr. Churchill is the founder and Music Director of Symphony Pro Musica since 1983, and the former Music Director of Worcester’s Salisbury Lyric Opera, and the Salisbury Chamber Orchestra. For eleven years he was the Resident Conductor and Faculty Chairman of the Asian Youth Orchestra in Hong Kong, a pan-Asian organization founded by the late Sir Yehudi Menuhin. Recently he led the New Zealand National Youth Orchestra in its annual gala concert. As a cellist he has appeared as soloist, recitalist and chamber music player throughout the United States and on tours of South America and Asia. He performed in Seoul, Hong Kong, and Taiwan with the Trio Pro Musica. Much sought after as a teacher of talented teenage cellists, he is on the cello faculty of the NEC Preparatory School and has taught at major summer music programs including Greenwood Music Camp, Musicorda, and the Heifetz and Foulger International Institutes. He and his wife Marylou Speaker Churchill received Harvard’s prestigious Luise Vosgerschian Teaching Award in 2005.

Dr. Churchill holds the DMA degree from the University of Hartford and the B.M. and M.M. degrees from New England Conservatory. His doctoral dissertation research on Brazilian music was supported by a one year Fulbright grant to live and work in that country. His principal teachers include Herbert Blomstedt and Charles Bruck (conducting); Rudolf Kolisch (chamber music); and Raya Garbousova, Laurence Lesser and David Soyer (cello). He resides in Newton, Massachusetts, with his seventeen-year-old twin daughters, Emma and Julia, who play the cello and violin.

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