On 23 September, six outstanding young musicians from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance took to the stage at St John's, Smith Square to compete for the Conservatoire's most prestigious prize - the Isabelle Bond Gold Medal Award for Excellence in Performance. The pinnacle of the Conservatoire's competition calendar, the origins of this annual award go back over 100 years.
The competition adjudicators - Timothy Walker, Chief Executive and Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sally Groves, Director of Schott Music Ltd and Trinity Laban's Claire Mera-Nelson - were impressed with all six performers but were unanimous in choosing recorder player Elen Le Foll as the winner.
Elen gave a compelling performance of a 16th century Ottoman art music composition, Taksim Der makām-ı 'Uzzâl uşūleş Devr-i kebīr, transcribed by Dimitrie Cantemir (c.1705), Giovanni Battista Fontana's Sonata sesta (pub.1641), and Calliope Tsoupaki's Charavgi (1994). Elen received a scholarship to study on the BMus course at Trinity Laban, graduating in July 2010, and now lives in Germany where she is active as a chamber musician and teacher.
The six competitors were nominated by the Conservatoire's Heads of Departments for their exceptional musical flair and professionalism. Elen beat off strong competition from violinist Ilya Movchan, pianist Alice Pinto, flautist Rosanna Ter-Berg, mezzo-soprano Emma Watkinson, and jazz vibraphonist Lewis Wright.
Trinity Laban's Executive Director Professor Derek Aviss, formerly Principal of Trinity College of Music and Joint Principal of Trinity Laban, hosted the event and used the occasion to introduce Professor Anthony Bowne as the new single Principal of Trinity Laban, commenting on how much he is looking forward to working with Anthony in their respective new roles. Professor Anthony Bowne said: "This was my first Gold Medal as Principal of Trinity Laban and I was extremely proud. It was a magnificent evening and evidenced artistry of the very highest standard - many congratulations to Elen".
The award originated in 1905 when the Tallis Gold Medal was presented to student Isabelle Beatrice Bond, in recognition of her outstanding mark in the Trinity Licentiate Diploma examination. Desmond Farley, Isabelle's son, inherited the medal and generously returned it to the Conservatoire in her memory and the first Isabelle Bond Gold Medal Award Competition was held in 2000.