Hello, I`mMark Churchill
Dr. Mark Churchill has had the privilege of a long career as cellist, conductor, educator, and innovative thinker. He is Dean Emeritus of New England Conservatory’s Department of Preparatory and Continuing Education (now Expanded Education), which he led for 31 years. Under his leadership, the Preparatory School became known as one of the best programs of its kind in the nation, emphasizing serious, professional training for pre-college students. He established the School of Continuing Education and department of Community Collaborations in addition to numerous community-based programs and local, national, and international partnerships, most notably NEC at Walnut Hill, the Orchestra of the Americas, Project STEP, and El Sistema USA and the Abreu Fellows Program at NEC. In 2021 El Sistema USA established the Mark Churchill Teacher of the Year Award to honor his legacy.
Mark is currently on the faculty of the NEC Preparatory School and has taught at major summer programs including the Heifetz Institute, Musicorda, Cremona International Music Festival, Foulger Institute, and Greenwood Music Camp.
As a cellist, he has appeared as soloist, recitalist, and chamber music player throughout the United States and on tours of South America. He has performed as soloist with the NEC Symphony and Youth Philharmonic Orchestra, Hartt Symphony Orchestra, Thayer Conservatory Orchestra, Symphony Pro Musica, and Merrimack Symphony, among others. He has also appeared in Seoul, Hong Kong, and Taiwan with Trio Pro Musica and on tours of New England and Brazil with Trio Pan Americano. In 2016 he was named Cellist of the Year by the Boston Cello Society and in 2005 awarded Harvard’s prestigious Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award.
Mark is widely known as a conductor in New England and abroad. He has been Music Director of Massachusetts-based Symphony Pro Musica since 1982 and was Associate Conductor of the Boston Ballet from 1990 to 2012. He was also Resident Conductor of the Asian Youth Orchestra (1990–2001) and Conductor of the Thayer Symphony Orchestra (1976–1983) and the Salisbury Lyric Opera and Chamber Orchestra (1986–2005). Guest conducting engagements include Tokyo’s Komaki Ballet, the National Ballet of Mongolia, and the New Zealand National Youth Orchestra.
Throughout his career Mark has been an active advocate for the improvement and expansion of music education programs in American schools. In addition to El Sistema USA and Project STEP, a pre-professional support program for string students of color, he was a founding board member of the Conservatory Lab Charter School and the Berkshire Institute of Theology and the Arts.
Mark holds a Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) degree from the University of Hartford and B.M. and M.M. degrees from New England Conservatory. His doctoral dissertation research on Brazilian music was supported by a 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, David Soyer, and Benjamin Zander (cello). He was married to the late Marylou Speaker Churchill, violinist/educator, NEC faculty member, and former principal second violin of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Their twin daughters, Emma and Julia, were students of the NEC Preparatory School for 14 years before pursuing professional music studies in college.
Awards and Honors
- Annual El Sistema USA Mark Churchill Teacher of the Year Award, 2023
- Harvard’s Luise Vosgerchian Teaching Award, 2005
Boston Cello Society “Cellist of the Year” Award, 2016
- Fulbright grant to Brazil for doctoral dissertation research. “The Cello Music of Brazil: A Guide for Performers.”
- New England Conservatory Outstanding Alumni Award, 2010
I thrive on seeing my students deepen their relationship with music and humanity through their cello studies, and I’m committed to doing everything possible to guide and strengthen their paths toward that goal. Cello teaching has been a constant in my life since the age of 20, and I’ve always strived to address the emotional, mental, physical, collaborative, social, and transcendent aspects of instrumental music-making in a way that’s individually balanced for each student. My primary aspiration is that students gain a love for the cello and its music so that it radiates throughout their lives, both inwardly and outwardly.
I’ve successfully prepared numerous high school students to thrive at conservatories and high-level university music departments, and, for those pursuing non-musical careers, to participate with pleasure and generosity in their university and community music programs. I believe that every student benefits the most by working as though they intend to pursue a career in music. Both aspiring music professionals and those pursuing other careers will gain numerous transferable learning and life skills and ensure the greatest pleasure from music in their lives.