Phil Castang appointed chair of Music Education Council

Harriet Clifford
Thursday, July 22, 2021

Castang says the journey between music education and the music industry is ‘broken and young people are missing out’.

Phil Castang
Phil Castang

The Music Education Council (MEC) has confirmed that director of creative learning and engagement at Bristol Beacon Phil Castang will take over from Fiona Pendreigh as chair for a two-year term. 

Castang’s 25-year career in music education has seen him in the chief executive role at Newham Music Trust, as co-founder of the International Guitar Foundation, and overseeing the music education hub at Bristol Beacon concert venue. 

On his appointment, he said: ‘I’m delighted to take up this important role. It’s a challenging time, but we need to be united as a sector to make sure everyone in the UK can benefit from the creative and social benefits of engaging in and learning about music. 

‘For children and young people, it is critical that the music education sector and music industry work together more effectively to provide opportunities for all young people, so they can traverse from education pathways to music industry pipelines. At the moment, this journey is broken and young people are losing out.’ 

Four new trustees also join the MEC: Barry Farrimond MBE, chief executive of Open Up Music; Emma Lines, senior programme manager at Drake Music Scotland; Chrissy Kinsella, chief executive of the London Music Fund; and Ruth McPherson, senior partnerships & marketing manager at the Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM). 

Pendreigh, now past chair of the MEC, said: ‘The Music Education Council aims to help create a society where everyone benefits from the personal, social and educational value of music. This has been a really difficult time for families, and particularly for children and young people. We will be doing everything we can to champion the value of music education and advocate for increased funding and resources. 

‘We are thrilled to welcome Phil Castang as our organisation’s new chair. He brings a wealth of experience, knowledge and creativity, and an absolute commitment to inclusivity and improving music education opportunities for young people. We also have four fantastic new trustees, who between them bring a diverse range of skills and experience, all of which will be crucial in helping us to deliver our ambitions.’

Pendreigh will be chairing the Day 1 Symposium at the Music & Drama Education Expo on 24 September, and Castang will be sitting on the panel. Register here