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Emma Cunliffe, Chetham's 1990-1992

Outreach Programme Manager at Chetham’s

Bassoon – Piano

“We need to look outward to help people engage with music.”

Emma Cunliffe thus neatly summarises both her mission and her role as Outreach Programme Manager at Chetham’s. Those of you who were at Chets between 1990 and 1992 probably remember her as Emma Brackley Jones, a bassoonist and pianist whose path would lead from Chetham’s to the University of Birmingham, through a PGCE in secondary music education, into various music teaching and outreach roles, and finally back to Chets, where you will find her today.

As Outreach Manager, Emma works closely with external partners to explore not just how to engage the public with music, but why it’s important to do so. Working closely with, among others, the GM Music Hub and One Education Music, Emma keeps current on what’s going on in the musical world so that she can understand how Chets fits into the big picture and strategically target our outreach work. Emma explains, “Working with people outside the school benefits both staff and students [and enables] them to help people who might not otherwise have the opportunity to really engage with music.”

Outreach events vary from intimate opportunities to try a new instrument, to full-scale musical productions. As part of last year’s nationwide celebration of composer Frederick Delius, Emma worked with primary schools in Bolton and Delius’s hometown of Bradford to help students think about where music comes from, how it is influenced, and how it goes on to influence later works. She provided curriculum support that enabled students to explore how the music Delius heard from slaves on his father’s Florida plantation influenced his work and eventually developed into modern gospel music. The project culminated in over 300 students coming together at Chetham’s and at Manchester Cathedral to sing the music they had learned.

Emma’s next major project is the production of Benjamin Britten’s community opera, Noye’s Fludde. A true community event, the performance will bring together students from three Greater Manchester primary schools, young musicians from Salford and Manchester Music Services, choristers from Manchester Cathedral, professional singers and, of course, young singers and instrumentalists from Chets. The production, done in partnership with the Bridgewater Hall’s Learning and Participation team, will see participants come together for two performances at Manchester Cathedral on 23 February at 1.45pm and 4.30pm.

Always looking for new ways to expand our partnerships, Emma says “I love finding ways to engage people with music and provide access to excellent musical learning opportunities.” We can’t wait to see what she comes up with next!

Instruments: Keyboard, Staff, Woodwind

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