Laughter and music - the highlights of retirement party for Trinity Laban Executive Director, Derek Aviss

The beautiful Old Royal Naval College Chapel in Greenwich was the location recently for a celebration of the career of Professor Derek Aviss, formerly Joint Principal of Trinity Conservatoire of Music and Dance, who is retiring from his current position as Executive Director.

Derek and his wife Jenny were joined by over 200 guests, including His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent (Patron of Trinity Laban), the Mayor and Mayoress of Royal Greenwich and The Rt Hon Nick Raynsford, MP for Royal Greenwich and Woolwich.

Former Trinity Laban Board member Alan Britten CBE provided a wonderful tribute to Derek's many musical and professional achievements, including his crucial role in ensuring the relocation of the (then) Trinity College of Music to its current site in Greenwich.

Guests enjoyed a beautiful programme presented by Trinity Laban current and former students.  Stephen Jackson, one of the UK's foremost choral conductors and member of the Vocal Department teaching staff, directed the Chamber Choir in a fitting tribute including a stunning performance of 'Farwell' written by Michael Berkeley.  All present were particularly moved by the final performance of the evening, 'Song of the Birds' by Pablo Casals, performed by Derek, accompanied by a Cello Ensemble made up of his former students.  The appearance of this ensemble was a complete surprise to Derek who showed his true musicianship by taking up the invitation to perform this piece, from memory, with no preparation beforehand. 

In typically understated style, Derek spoke about moving from his 'cello career into teaching, and subsequently, senior administration, at Trinity Laban. Anecdotes also flowed, including Derek's disproportionate love for cleaning low mileage Mercedes and what not to wear to a 'cello performance.

Professor Anthony Bowne, Principal of Trinity Laban, outlined Derek's exceptional career:

"Derek has dedicated almost his entire professional life to ensuring the success and longevity of Trinity College of Music and latterly, its successor, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance.  Throughout his long career, Derek has played a central role in shaping the future of the Institution and has been hugely instrumental in so many of our successes and achievements."

"Derek was a key figure in the bringing together of the two heritage Colleges which form what is now the UK's largest Conservatoire.  He led the development of a more ambitious performance programme to include highly successful collaborative events, enabling students to take advantage of collaborative opportunities between music and dance which are unique in our sector. As a direct result of Derek's leadership and core educational beliefs, the music degree programmes offered at Trinity Laban today have a significant focus on creativity, collaboration and employability. 

"Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance would be a very different place without Derek's vision and dedication.  It is, for us all, difficult to imagine this special Institution without him and he will be sorely missed by every one of us."

Guests then joined Derek for a more informal celebration and post-concert drink, with jazz provided by Trinity Laban jazz students, and led by senior jazz lecturer, Malcolm Earle-Smith.

Derek _aviss _resize

Picture - photographer credit Tas Kyriacou

Professor Derek Aviss

Derek Aviss was educated at Trinity College of Music between 1965 and 1970. His early career, as a professional 'cellist, was spent performing at major concert venues and festivals as a recitalist and as the 'cellist of the Ariosti Piano Trio and the Cantilena Soloists' Ensemble (voice, 'cello and piano).

A professor of 'cello at Trinity College of Music since 1976 he has, in addition, held posts as Senior Lecturer, Principal Lecturer, Head of the String Faculty, Head of Performance Studies, Deputy Principal and Principal of TCM. Derek is now retiring as Executive Director of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. He continues to hold positions on many professional associations, boards and committees, and has a life-long interest in music pedagogy and innovative educational practice.

Derek states the three most important influences on his musical life as the 'cello, the human voice and the piano. First introduced to music, like many of his generation, through service as a church chorister, with the breaking of his voice the 'cello became his new and, subsequently, life-long voice. His career in performance was primarily based around collaboration with keyboard instruments, in particular the piano.

His non-musical interests include travel, literature, cricket and motorcars, all of which he hopes to indulge further on his retirement.


Britten, Suite for Solo 'Cello No.1, Op.72
Canto Primo
Mark Broadhead ('cello)

Chopin, Polonaise in A flat Major, Op. 53
Philip Fowke (Piano)

Michael Berkeley, 'Farewell'
Peter Cetera, 'If You Leave Me Now' (arr. Stephen Jackson)

Conducted by Stephen Jackson

The Trinity Laban Chamber Choir

Vivaldi, Concerto in E Minor for 'Cello and Orchestra (arr. Paul Bazelaire)

Directed by Derek Aviss

The Trinity Laban String Ensemble
Derek Aviss (solo 'cello)
Bach, Suite No.5 in C Minor for Violoncello Solo
Derek Aviss ('cello)

Chaplin, 'Smile'

Casals, 'Song of the Birds' (arr. Harvey Eagles)

Former Students Cello Ensemble

Derek Aviss (solo 'cello)

Alan Britten CBE became the first chair of the English Tourism Council in 1999. A former Trinity College of Music and Trinity Laban board member and President of the Friends of Aldeburgh Music - the year-round performance centre which supports artists at all stages in their careers by providing inspirational and relaxed spaces in which to create new work.

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