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Alumni Roundup November 2021

Wed 8 December 2021

A roundup of alumni news, success and creative endeavours.

Many of our alumni performed at the EFG London Jazz Festival 2021 (12-21 Nov), joining a city-wide showcase of talent from around the world.

Olie Brice and Tom Challenger, along with Will Glaser, headlined a performance Downstairs at The Vortex, while Damon Brown took to the stage at the MAP Café in Kentish Town in his first performance in England for two years, having spent much of the COVID-19 pandemic in Seoul.

Rebecca Nash played at the Spice of Life, performing with fellow alums Paul Michael and Matt Fisher. Leo Richardson and Deschanel Gordon were part of Quentin Collins’ Sextet at SpiceJazz Soho. Femi Koleoso performed in a retrospective on Tony Allen’s music at the Royal Festival Hall, and Xhosa Cole performed with Cecile McLorin Salvant at Cadogan Hall.

Nérija, a jazz septet featuring alumni Lizy Exell, Nubya Garcia, Cassie Kinoshi, Sheila Maurice-Grey, and Rosie Turton, opened for Charles Lloyd at the Barbican, in an concert that earned five stars from The Times. They, along with alumni Laura Jurd and Cherise Adams-Burnett, were among the wealth of multi-skilled female jazz musicians rocking the festival and smashing stereotypes.

Composer, saxophonist and bandleader Cassie also spoke to Red Bull about creating futuristic jazz music that tells stories of modern society and the experience of being a young Black woman in the UK.

This month, Afrobeat pioneer and activist Fela Kuti was honoured with a Blue Plaque, installed at his former west London home in Shepherd’s Bush where he lived while studying at Trintiy Laban. This follows last year’s installation of a temporary commemorative plaque at our Faculty of Music as part of the Black Plaque Project. Unveiled as part of the conservatoire’s Black Culture 365 programme, we’re proud that it is now a permanent fixture at our Greenwich campus.

November saw multiple award wins and nominations for our alumni, including Made Kuti who has been nominated along with his father Femi Kuti for the Best Global Music Album at the 2022 Grammy Awards, for their album Legacy +.

Daniel Casimir won Instrumentalist of the Year and Emma-Jean Thackray was named UK Jazz Act of The Year at the 2021 Jazz FM Awards.

Transitions alum Mirjam Gurtner won the June Johnson Newcomer prize at Schweizer Preis Darstellende Künste 2021.

Soprano Hilary Cronin was named the winner of the prestigious international Handel Singing Competition 2021, taking home both first prize and the audience prize. Second prize was awarded to fellow alum Bethany Horak-Hallet, and Felix Kemp also performed in the final.

Musical Director of the Bristol Choral Society Hilary Campbell received the Inspiration Award at this year’s Royal Philharmonic Society Awards, while The Hermes Experiment, founded by Héloïse Werner, won the Young Artist Award.

Baritone Michael Lafferty and collaborative pianist Ashley Beauchamp made it to the final of the renowned Kathleen Ferrier Awards.

Throughout November our dance alumni shared their expertise at Independent Dance, including morning classes with Carolyn Roy, Lizzy Le Quesne and Alexandra Baybutt and Monday Night Improv with Kate Brown.

James Pett performed in and Assistant Directed dance film A Space Left Blank, which was shown at three international festivals this autumn – Florence Dance on Screen Festival, Frame x Frame Film Festival in Houston, Texas, and Inspired Dance Festival in Sydney and Perth, Australia.

Also running through the month, alum Peter Edwards conducted Tomorrow’s Warriors ensemble Nu Civilisation Orchestra on their UK tour touring celebrating 50 years since the release of Marvin Gaye’s iconic album ‘What’s Going On’.

Running until December 11 at English National Opera, HMS Pinafore has been getting rave reviews and alum Jonathan Savournin is a stand out.

Coming up:

Alum Cecilia McDowall has been commissioned by King’s College, Cambridge to write this year’s carol for the annual Christmas Eve Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols. She has chosen to set her piece to the traditional song “There is no rose”, which she hopes will bring “a moment of stillness” to the Christmas Eve service. The piece will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service on 24 December at 15:00.

Jazz-grime group Ezra Collective, featuring alumni Femi Koleoso, Joe Armon-Jones, and Dylan Jones, will be releasing a new album in the next month.

Season 2 of the Tight Lads podcast, created by alumni Chesney Fawkes Porter, Jordan Donnelly and Abi O’Neill, has begun. Their most recent episodes are a deep dive on the musical Heathers, and a discussion of how body confidence can change through the seasons.