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Elliot Galvin commissioned to present jazz in unconventional ways

The jazz alum has won a Jerwood Jazz Encounters Fellowship to create bold new work at Festivals across England.

Pianist and composer Elliot Galvin is one of four artists to receive a Jerwood Jazz Encounters Fellowship, a new programme that offers artists the chance to experiment with presenting jazz in unusual spaces and in the digital realm.

The Fellowship includes funding for research and development, in-depth mentoring, a two-day Creative Lab hosted by Birmingham City University and specialist support from digital agency The Space.

It will culminate in a new site-specific or digital work at a leading European music festival in 2021, including Cheltenham Jazz Festival and Manchester Jazz Festival.

In the press release, Elliot Galvin commented –  

“I am fascinated by presenting music in new contexts and communicating work to audiences in new ways. This Fellowship will allow me to build on my creative ideas with the support and guidance of industry professionals to help me realise a new installation piece that is in dialogue with its environment, playing with context as much as content.

“This is something that I have worked on before, but never with the support network that this Fellowship provides, allowing the work to develop to its full potential.”

A rising star of the UK jazz scene, Elliot is a member of Laura Jurd’s Mercury nominated band Dinosaur and one half of the Binker Golding and Elliot Galvin Duo, amongst many other ensembles. He has released four albums to date with The Elliot Galvin Trio including The Influencing Machine, which was named one of the albums of the year in both Downbeat and Jazzwise.

Alongside performance, he is a prolific composer who has been commissioned by leading venues and ensembles including the London Sinfonietta, Ligeti Quartet and St. John’s Smith Square.

Elliot graduated with a BMus (Hons) in jazz piano from Trinity Laban in 2013 before completing his MMus in Composition in 2014.

Find out more about studying at Trinity Laban on our Jazz and Composition pages.

Image credit: Dave Stapleton

Alumni spotlight: In conversation with Lucy Drever

Workshop leader and presenter Lucy Drever graduated from Trinity Laban with a BMus (Hons) in Vocal Studies in 2013.

Over the last seven years she’s carved out a successful career in music education, working with various arts organisations including Wigmore Hall, Philharmonia Orchestra and the Benedetti Foundation. She works in a variety of settings including early years spaces, schools, arts venues, hospitals, care homes and prisons.

Recently Lucy was announced as an Associate Artist of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBC SSO).

We caught up with her to find out more.

You’ve worked with BBC SSO since October 2018. What does this involve?

“Over the last 18 months I’ve worked with the BBC SSO on various projects in Scotland, including residencies in Campbletown and Holyrood Secondary School.

“I’ve also been involved with Connecting the Dots, which is an opportunity for local settings to get in touch with BBC and connect with one of the BBC Orchestras or Choirs for online workshops. I led a training for 100 professional BBC musicians on how to lead workshops.

In orchestras I think education work has been proven to be really beneficial for the musicians themselves as well as the communities they’re working with.”

Lucy working on stage with orchestra in front of audience

You are now the first ever Associate Artist in Music Education for BBCSSO. How did this role come about and what will it entail?

“The BBC SSO are committed to making education work as important as the artistic side of what they do, so that’s really how the role came about.

“The role is for at least three years, which will give us a really good chunk of time to actually build some meaningful work developing accessible and inclusive music in communities and with partners.

“As far as we’re aware it’s one of the first purely educational Associate Artistic roles of any orchestra, certainly on this scale. I’m interested to see how it will affect the wider orchestral landscape in terms of education work. I think it’s come at the right time. I cannot believe it. I’m really lucky.

“I think a large part of it will be quite responsive to what the orchestral musicians think up and the conversations that we have. There are definitely areas of work that we know already that we want to develop. For instance, we want to take Tunes for Tots around Scotland and possibly think about some form of online presence.

“I personally would love to do more relaxed concerts although I’m not quite sure yet who for, whether it’s for everyone or we have a focus. And then building relationships with music organisations predominately in Glasgow who are already doing amazing work.

I think what I’m probably most excited for in this role is making the orchestra fit for everybody else, rather than everybody having to fit in with the orchestra.”

 

How did you become interested in education work?

“At school we always had the opportunities to lead choirs and stuff. I really enjoyed it. Then when I left school I did care work, so I had this kind of interest in working with the more vulnerable groups in the community.

“When I was studying at Trinity Laban, an opportunity came up to work with the Learning and Participation Department assisting with a choir for older adults.

“I was really reluctant to go into this world, quite frankly, because I thought education meant either working full time in a school or peripatetic teaching which I’m rubbish at.

It was really the staff at Trinity Laban who saw something in me before I did. They took me on and gave me every opportunity.”

 

“Andrea Spain [Assistant Director of Music and Head of Learning & Participation at Trinity Laban until 2017] encouraged me to apply for the Trainee Music Leader scheme at Wigmore Hall. For 11 months I got to work across their learning programme, observing and leading workshops, and I received funding to go to Orkney to do a vocal course.”

 

Lucy Drever performing

What were the most valuable things you learned during your time at Trinity Laban?

“I never wanted to be a singer, but I do use my voice a lot, and I’m grateful for my classical training as it’s given me good vocal stamina and a solid technique.

“I still get nervous but not irrationally so. I believe that’s because I have a vocal degree, which was the hardest thing I’ve done in my entire life. If you can get through four years of that you can do anything.

“For my audition we had to do an improvised piece. I think that symbolises what Trinity Laban is about. They’re interested in individuals’ creativity.

“And also, from day one, this term of portfolio career was introduced. We were given permission to do a bit of everything. If you look at Trinity Laban musicians, they’re all quite flexible and are interested in collaboration and in other genres.

“CoLab was the most wonderful introduction to collaboration between different genres and art forms. I learned so much, including how to be respectful of everyone’s craft.

I really owe Trinity Laban everything. They introduced me to this world of music education that I didn’t know was a thing.”

 

What are some of the highlights of your career so far?

“I’m really proud that I worked with Music in Prisons. Their Artistic Director Sara Lee is a great mentor to me. I’ve learnt so much from her about respect in a room. Those projects have really been highlights of my career.

“Something that was quite big for me was that in 2016 or 2017 I became fully freelance. I never thought that I would do that, and that was massive for me, making my own career.

“I’ve been so lucky to work with so many orchestras and groups. I presented the Philharmonia’s first even family concerts. That was hugely emotional and wonderful. And to have this role with BBC SSO is just crazy – it’s a total honour.

“I’m quite surprised I work with orchestras. I was brought up listening to vocal music and because I don’t play an instrument to that level, my way in is through the story the music tells. I think that should be the way in for any audience. I think that’s why I’m getting this work because I’m quite good at communicating about it. I’m so thankful that I’ve been so accepted into this world.”

What is it like working in a variety of non-traditional settings?

“It’s the biggest privilege. I was doing some workshop in children’s hospices at the beginning of the year. To be allowed that time is a massive honour. Music let’s you connect on a deep level. To have that vulnerability in what’s already a scary situation is a privilege. I love working with such brave people. We could learn a lot from that.

I quite like feeling uncomfortable, not quite knowing what’s going happen. I just love the challenge. I love having a plan and then throwing it away. That’s where I’m happiest.”

 

“I’ve worked really hard on not becoming ‘known’ for one thing. My personality is such that I have to be doing everything. The things you learn in prisons, you can use for under fives. It all just really informs each other.

“So much of my work is making people feel safe – not just the participants but the musicians as well. My job is holding a safe space where people can share ideas. With what I do, everyone is equal. It’s about the collaboration between the different voices in the room – musicians, participants, me – rather than one of us giving something to someone else.”

Lucy leading a workshop with children

Can you share any advice for students who might be aspiring to a similar career path?

“Observe workshop leaders and workshops in different settings. You need to have experience, so it’s about getting yourself in the room and engaging. You also need to be patient.

“I spend a large part of my career having conversations with people. People have to know who you are and the kind of things you can do because then they can suggest opportunities to you that you’ve never even heard of.”

Any future plans you’d like to share with us?

“From 11 May the Benedetti Foundation are leading tutorials online for people all over the world. We’ve already had 200 people sign up in the space of about 2 hours. I’ll be doing more work with them in their general musicianship team.

“I’m also one of Wigmore Hall’s Early Years Leaders. I lead on their Chamber Tots project and a project with a partner school.

“I’ll be narrating The Secret Garden in November at the Adelphi Theatre for Lambert Jackson Productions. I’m so nervous! I’ve always done narrating and storytelling on the side, and this opportunity came about through presenting some musical theatre concerts. Then the production company asked me to narrate their concert version of Dr Zhivago last year at Wigmore Hall.

I love the whole presenting side but I really don’t see it as performing. I see myself as the middle woman between the audience and the orchestra.”

 

Find out more about Music Education at Trinity Laban on our study pages.

Discover more about studying voice on our vocal page.

Main Image: Lucy Drever (credit Colm Ó Braoin)

A spotlight on… oboist Olivia Fraser

As the Evelyn Rothwell Competition for Solo Oboe comes round once again in the TL calendar, we caught up with former winner and Loveday Scholar 2018/19 Olivia Fraser to find out what she’s been up to since graduating with an MA in Oboe and the Director’s Prize for Excellence in 2019.

You studied at Trinity Laban as both an undergraduate and masters student. What were the most valuable things you gained during your time here?

“I had lots of wonderful experiences but a particularly valuable one was being part of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra (BSO) Training Scheme. The scheme allowed me to play in some of the BSO concerts, receive mentoring and advice from their Principal Oboe, Ed Kay, and work on one of their outreach projects. It came at a really important time as I was right at the end of my masters degree and I wanted to really throw myself into a freelance orchestral career. I learned a lot from playing alongside Ed and I ended up going back down to Bournemouth after the scheme to do a patch of work with the orchestra on second oboe.

I was lucky to have lots of really inspiring oboe and cor anglais teachers at Trinity Laban.”

 

“They’re not just amazing performers but also fantastic teachers. They’re all so dedicated to their music and they inspired me to work hard and to have the confidence to pursue an orchestral career.”

 

Olivia, left, performing onstage at the TL Gold Medal 2020 (credit Tas Kyprianou)

Image: Olivia, left, performing onstage at the TL Gold Medal 2020 (credit Tas Kyprianou)

How have your studies impacted your career?

“Throughout my studies I grabbed every opportunity I could find. I applied for schemes, signed up to masterclasses and entered lots of competitions. A great example of how this impacted my career was the Evelyn Rothwell Competition. I vividly remember that I almost didn’t enter because I was feeling overwhelmed by my upcoming end of year recital and nervous about the competition. But thankfully I did enter and not only was I named the joint winner of the prize but I also ended up staying in contact with the adjudicator, Nigel Treherne.

“Fast forward four years and I was recording a concerto that Nigel had written for two oboes and string ensemble, playing alongside Trinity Laban professor Chris O’Neal. This was my first professional recording and an experience that I cherish.

I’m so thankful that I entered the Evelyn Rothwell/Barbirolli Oboe Competition as it shaped a really important part of my career.”

 

You won the audience prize at the Trinity Laban Gold Medal 2020, wowing the crowd with Edwin Roxburgh’s Study 1and Antonio Pasculli’s Omaggio a Bellini. Why did you choose this repertoire, and what did you enjoy most about performing it?

“I had an amazing time performing at the Gold Medal. It took me a long time to choose my repertoire because you only have 15 minutes to showcase yourself. I wanted to see how much variety I could get into this short performance and not only showcase myself, but also the oboe, an instrument that isn’t often in the spotlight. I chose two pieces written by oboists, the first for solo oboe (Roxburgh) and the other for cor anglais and harp (Pasculli).

I was keen to stay away from the traditional and to push myself to give the audience something more unusual. This is a mindset that I have no doubt came from studying in the innovative and creative environment that Trinity Laban fosters.”

 

“Roxburgh’s Study 1 was a piece that I came across while I was researching and listening to repertoire for the showcase and, as soon I as heard it, I knew it was the perfect pairing with the Pasculli. The piece is a showcase of the oboe and what it can do. It’s full of extreme contrasts in terms of dynamics, mood, range, articulations and character. There was very little written about the piece and I was keen to find out the composer’s intentions. So after a few weeks working on it I reached out to Edwin directly. We spoke on the phone and via email about his work and this gave me more confidence in some of my musical decisions and interpretations. Edwin came to watch the Gold Medal performance at Purcell Room and it was such a privilege to play for him. Having him there really was the icing on the cake for a very special night.”

 

Olivia receives the Gold Medal 2020 Audience Prize

Image: Olivia receives the Gold Medal 2020 Audience Prize (credit Tas Kyprianou)

You’ve played with the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Royal Ballet Sinfonia and London Mozart Players. Can you tell us what it’s like to be working with such high-profile orchestras?

“I used to dream of what it would feel like to play with professional orchestras. When I actually got there I wondered whether it would meet my expectations, whether it would be as exciting as I imagined. I think it’s even better than I expected. I worked really hard throughout my degrees to get to a point where I felt ready to play in a professional setting. It’s thrilling to play with such talented musicians and in such amazing situations.

I love every minute working with these orchestras and I feel so grateful every time I sit down to perform.”

 

Can you share any advice for students who might be aspiring to a similar career path?

“Take risks. I was quite reluctant to step out of my comfort zone when I started but taking risks can take you to some really exciting places. Collaborate with dancers, actors, artists and composers, try improvising (this terrified me when I started but is actually really liberating!), learn some wacky contemporary music, form an unusual ensemble… college is the place to take those risks and try new things!

Turn up on time for everything!”

 

“I struggled with time management when I started but, like everything, it’s a skill that you can improve with practise and a completely necessary skill for working in the orchestral profession.

“Be kind and respectful to your fellow students and to your teachers. They may well end up being your colleagues one day!”

Any future plans you’d like to share with us?

“Musical plans have sadly been put on pause for the time being due to the ongoing Covid-19 situation. I was due to compete at the International Barbirolli Competition which has now been postponed until next year, so I’ll have a few more months to get prepared for that!

“I was recently accepted onto Glyndebourne’s Pit Perfect scheme which allows recent graduates to perform with the Glyndebourne Tour Orchestra. This year’s production is the utterly gorgeous Madame Butterfly by Puccini. I hope this might be able to go ahead at some point. I’m looking forward to the music industry getting up and running again and can’t wait to get back to playing in orchestra when I can!”

Olivia will be performing live on our Facebook page on Friday 22 May at 18.00 as part of our #SelfIsolationCreation campaign.

Learn more about studying oboe at Trinity Laban on our woodwind page.

Main image: Olivia Fraser (credit JK Photography)

Vocal student sings for VE Day

Thea Callaghan leads community singalong

To mark the 75th Anniversary of VE Day, vocal student Thea Callaghan and her 1940s-inspired close harmony group Company B UK led a socially distanced community singalong of ‘We’ll Meet Again’ on the Isle of Wight, where they’re currently spending lockdown.

The group encouraged local artists from the community to join on Thursday 7 May after the Clap for our Carers, lifting spirits and raising funds for local NHS charities including the island’s Earl Mountbatten Hospice.

Thea explains –

“We were due to perform at the local hospice last week and it’s a charity we all hold dear to our hearts.”

Hundreds of islanders – including Polly Green, Antonia Thwaites and Nathan Stubbings who will be starting at Trinity Laban in September as vocal students – sang the iconic wartime tune on their doorsteps along with Company B UK.

Thea reflects –

“When I sang ‘We’ll Meet Again’ from my driveway on Thursday it was ghostly and extraordinarily. My amp played up to begin with, so I sang acapella – the silence was stunning and when my neighbours began to join me in song, I was overwhelmed with the response.”

The mass singalong was immortalised in a charming montage video shared on BBC news.

Thea comments –

“The response to our video was just so phenomenal, we wanted to share it with as many people as possible.”

To the delight of her neighbours, Thea came back out the following day to give a socially distanced VE Day concert, ending with her singing on her local high street in the back of an American wartime jeep.

And that wasn’t the end – Thea and fellow Company B UK members’ virtual performance of ‘Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy’was featured on South Today on Saturday 9 May, accompanying the programme’s VE Day montage.

“I love singing and performing with my Company B girls,” says the singer, “not just because we’re great friends but because of the joy that this genre brings to people.”

Looking ahead, Thea continues –

“We have been recording a lot for our social media and virtual events including the upcoming Amick Productions of Wight Proms – Stay at Home Gala.

“I will definitely keep on singing from my driveway during the rest of lockdown and can’t wait to be able to perform live again!”

To find out more about studying voice, visit our study pages.

Image: Thea, centre, with the Company B UK trio

April Alumni Roundup

Our round up of some of the successes of Trinity Laban alumni.

With live-streams, online dance classes, podcasts and international celebrations, this month has seen our alumni taking part in all sorts of innovative new projects to continue working and creating during lockdown.

Kicking off the live-streams this month were trumpeter Laura Jurd and pianist Elliot Galvin. The two Dinosaur band members gave a concert from their home in Greenwich, then performed solo sets later in the month as part of Jazz FM’s Music Day and Free Range’ s digital TV. She also performed as part of jazz festival ‘Around the Houses’ with fellow alum Reuben James.

Ayanna Witter-Johnson performed live cello and vocals in a concert streamed from her home in the Royal Albert Hall’s new lockdown series ‘Royal Albert Home’.

Sarod-player Soumik Datta and jazz guitarist Oscar Jerome appeared in the PRS Presents: LCKDWN live-stream, performing live from their homes on 24 April. The event raised over £2.1 million for the PRS Emergency Relief Fund, supporting musicians who have been financially impacted by the coronavirus.

Acclaimed countertenor Terry Barber virtually welcomed fans into his living room for an informal concert and Trinity Laban violin tutor Andrew Bernardi played in the Art Saves Us online performance in support of the NHS.

Percussionist Manu Delago gave an online concert co-hosted by Trinity Laban. In his spare time, Manu also composed music inspired by his indoor surroundings, using kitchen utensils and household appliances to create new track ‘House Beats’ and a cover of his piece ‘Sun in the North’.

Bastard Assignments continued to improvise together in lockdown using the ‘instrument’ of Google Hangouts. The band were given a mention in the Financial Times’ article on the spirit of musical innovation.

April saw alumni sharing expertise and offering insights. Award-winning vocalist Sahra Gure gave a live session for Melodic Distraction, Chiara Favaretti taught online pilates classes, and dance alum Charlotte Bilcliffe was joined by jazz alum and bassist Rudi Creswick for an online yoga class for musicians, available to watch for free on YouTube.

Heidi Yu helped dancers improve their strength and flexibility from home in her supplementary training Zoom sessions, and Angelina Jandolo created YouTube tutorials covering everything from preparatory ballet to pointes class, advanced ballet and adult beginners ballet.

Maxine Doyle, award-winning choreographer and Associate Director of Punchdrunk, shared insights on her recent collaboration with BalletBoyz and fellow alum Cassie Kinoshi in our alumni spotlight series.

Alum and dance psychologist Dr Lucie Clements chatted to West End performer Brandon Lee Sears about how performers can look after their well-being during this challenging time, while alumni Ellie Kusner and Sutton Anker featured in a panel discussion with IADAMS and Safe in Dance International leaders about how to dance safely whilst at home.

Alumni Joe Moran, Alexandrina Hemsley, Luke Birch and Susanna Recchia were announced in Independent Dance’s upcoming alternative programme of creative practice sessions. The free sessions will vary each week and may include sound scores, creative tasks, texts, provocations, videos and online engagement sessions with the artist via Zoom in a format similar to morning class.

Alum Dante Puleio was announced as the new Artistic Director of the world-leading Limón Dance Company. Read about Dante’s practice and what he hopes to achieve in this exciting new post.

To help us stay connected with live performance while theatres and cinemas remain shut, alumni released dance films online for audiences to watch from home. Alongside their array of online dance content, Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures broadcasted some of their most well-loved shows on Sky Arts, including Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet and The Car Man.

Luca Silvestrini’s Protein released inspiring new film ‘Reimagining Protein’, which documents dance groups taking part in Protein’s 21st anniversary celebrations and features projects from alumni Stella Howard, Molly Wright and Ella Fleetwood.

Originally premiered at the Sadler’s Wells Theatre last year, Fabula Collective released a recording of their dance-theatre work Ley Line. Watch the full show online with choreography from TL alum James Pett.

In celebration of World Penguin Day on 25 April, Birmingham Repertory Theatre streamed an archive recording of their production Penguins. Featuring alum Osian Meilir, the film will be available to watch until the end of lockdown.

On International Dance Day 2020, alumni kept up the spirit of unity during times of isolation. Award-winning choreographer and movement director Shelley Maxwell created this relay-style video of dancers from around the world, while the 215 clip-long video ‘Dance How You Feel Right Now’ featured numerous TL staff and alumni.

Also dancing in living rooms across the globe were the members of dance company Follow Through Collective in their video ‘Together Apart’, created by alum and choreographer Greta Gauhe.

As lockdown measures began to ease in Norway, alumni Brita Grov and Sara Røisland Torsvik of dance company Kvinnereller took to the streets of Bergen and live-streamed their socially distant dancing.

In a fun new video series on Facebook, Mass Hysteria introduced a new company member each day, giving viewers an insight into the elusive species of the ‘masshysteric’ chameleon.

Keen to stay connected, alumni invited the public to get involved with online projects. Elisabeth Schilling invited participants from all over the world to film their dancing feet for ‘Shoe Dances’ while Adam Russell set up new project ‘LOVE DANCES’, asking the public to send in love stories to inspire new choreographic works.

Vocal alum Hilary Campbell created a new online choral initiative ‘Stay and Sing’ for singers to explore popular choral works.

Composer and producer Max De Lucia compiled 15-second-long clips of musicians all over the world to create new project ‘Lockdown Experiment’, featuring trumpet from alum Lily Carassik.

Continuing the spirit of unity, many music ensembles created multi-track recordings of members playing at home, coming together via Zoom. Down for the Count Swing Orchestra filmed a fun lockdown rendition of classic jazz standard ‘Let’s Face the Music and Dance’ featuring alum Jeff Brown on trumpet, Laura Jurd contributed to a big band online performance of Jimi Hendrix’s ‘Ain’t No Telling’ and Natalia Wierzbicka played in One Orchestra’s rendition of ‘Stand By Me’.

Musical Theatre alum Tom Self was taken by surprise when a post of his lockdown version of comic Victoria Wood’s classic song ‘Let’s Do It’ went viral with over 2 million views.

In other music news this month, Lucy Drever was appointed as the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra’s new Associate Artist. Lucy will be working closely with the musicians of the orchestra to develop new open, accessible and inclusive music in communities.

In the podcast world, alum and former Head of Jazz Simon Purcell discussed his work in education and life as a musician in The Jazz Podcast while Ayanna Witter-Johnson featured in Holding Up the Ladder, discussing her training and her unique blend of classical, jazz and R&B.

In this year’s online version of Spring Forward Festival, alumni Emily May, Beatrix Joyce, Róisín O’Brien and Sanjoy Roy were among the Springback Magazine writers conducting post-show Q&As with the artists after their live-streamed performances.

New music releases this month included composition alum Gio Janiashvili’s new track ‘Born By Chance’, and Duncan Eagles’ album ‘Spirit Bloom’ as part of his duo Million Square.

Ibrahim Aziz and Masumni Yamamoto received acclaim for their performances in new album Handel: Works for Viola da Gamba and Harpsichord and Laura Jurd featured on Head of Composition Dominic Murcott’s new release 1:3:5:7Improvised Duos. 

George-Emmanuel Lazaridis’ work ‘From the Dead’ was premiered on Greek national television and released on YouTube. A concerto for piano, choir and orchestra, the piece was originally composed to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War I.

To celebrate Earth Day, Soumik Datta released new single ‘Tiger Tiger’ from his album Jangal, made in protest of deforestation and climate change.

 

Coming Up

Luca Silvestrini’s Protein’s film ‘Border Tales‘ will be streamed live on The Place Online on 7 May.

All-female dance collective Mass Hysteria will present a performance on the Trinity Laban YouTube channel on Thursday 14 May.

Saxophonist Camilla George will give a concert in the Serious Livestream Sessions on 15 May.

Vivian Triantafyllopoulou will lead a workshop open to all ages and abilities in structured improvisational movement on Monday 11 May at 18.00 BST. Join Vivian again for an open rehearsal with her dance company on Tuesday 12 May 17.00 BST, exploring themes and ideas from their piece ‘Ego Mas’.

Winner of this year’s Gold Medal audience prize Olivia Fraser will perform a live concert of oboe music on 22 May on the Trinity Laban YouTube channel.

Mass Hysteria to share YouTube premiere performance

All-female dance collective present ‘in this. net’

Formed in 2017, Mass Hysteria is a multicultural all-female dance collective who met whilst studying at Trinity Laban.

One of six winners of the inaugural TL Innovation Award, the collective encourages female artistic expression and empowerment through performances and the creation of movement works, community engagement efforts and external events.

Their self-curated series MassHysteriaPresents provides a platform for artists to display work, share ideas and give talks and presentations across South East London.

Earlier this year they performed a daylong event on the theme of power as part of Tate Exchange at Tate Modern. They also presented Yoga in the Park at Resolution 2020, London’s largest festival for emerging choreographers.

in this. net is the latest instalment in their series and will be premiered online on Trinity Laban’s YouTube channel on Thursday 14 May at 19.00.

A creative response to lockdown, this exclusive 20-minute performance explores the indoors and questions how we can connect through screens. 

#SelfIsolationCreation

Image credit: Mass Hysteria

Alumni spotlight: In conversation with Cassie Kinoshi

Award winning composer and saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi completed her undergraduate degree in Composition at Trinity Laban in 2015. She leads SEED Ensemble, whose debut album Driftglass was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 2019. She is also a member of award-winning jazz septet Nérija and Afrobeat band KOKOROKO. Her work spans theatre, film, contemporary dance, jazz and classical. She has been commissioned by the Old Vic, National Theatre and Women of the World Festival 2017 (Royal Festival Hall).

Cassie was part of the London Symphony Orchestra’s prestigious Panufnik Scheme in 2018-19, and was a Cameron Mackintosh Resident Composer at Dundee Rep Theatre in the same year. Most recently, Cassie has been collaborating with fellow Trinity Laban alum Maxine Doyle on Deluxe, a show celebrating internationally acclaimed dance company BalletBoyz 20th anniversary.

We caught up with Cassie to find out more.

When did you start collaborating with dance artists?

“When I was studying at Trinity Laban I lived with Anne Verheij, who was completing her MA in Creative Practice and created a lot of dance films. That’s where I started writing scores for her work and developing a language for working with dancers. We have showcased work at the London Short Film Festival and I continue to work with her.

“As a composition student, there were opportunities to work with dancers if you wanted. I got involved in CoLab and I put forward ideas that amalgamated Neo-soul, Afrobeat, tap dance and jazz.

“Then, when we first presented SEED Ensemble’s album Driftglass as a one-off show in 2017, dance was involved. So working with contemporary dance and screen dance is something I’ve always done.

Collaboration is at the heart of a lot of the work I do. I learn the language of people from other artistic backgrounds.”

 

How do you approach composing for contemporary dance and what is your creative process?

“As a composer, what I write depends on the subject matter and the piece. When work is in collaboration with an artist from a different discipline, having descriptive conversations, sharing music and looking at visuals are really helpful. How I work in theatre and jazz has definitely seeped in as well.”

How did you become involved with BalletBoyz and their anniversary show Deluxe?

“One of my artistic mentors through the Abrahm Wilson Foundation, Fred Bolza, was aware that Michael [Nunn] and Billy [Trevitt, BalletBoyz Founders] had wanted to work with someone centred in jazz for a while, so Fred recommended me. They then put me in touch with Maxine Doyle.”

 

Maxine Doyle and Cassie Kinoshi collaborating in the rehearsal studio

(Image: Maxine and Cassie collaborating in the rehearsal studio credit George Piper)

Can you tell us a bit about Bradley 4:18?

“It’s inspired by ‘Pictures on a screen’ from English poet and spoken word artist Kate Tempest’s concept album Let Them Eat Chaos. I found the poem really useful as inspiration.

“The lyrics are really sad. The character [Bradley] is awake at 4am thinking. He wants to feel whole and full but doesn’t know what that means. He has external validations but inside he’s empty. It’s about Bradley’s journey of trying to feel fulfilled and then the different aspects of him all clashing and coming out as he’s trying to understand who he is. We wanted to capture that conflict. The music was trying to capture that tension of being stuck in your mind.

This is one of my largest commissions ever – it pushed me a lot. It was a good challenge working with people at this level and I’ve learned a lot from the whole process.”

 

What has it been like to collaborate with fellow TL alum Maxine Doyle?

“Maxine speaks metaphorically and I love working that way – both with theatre and dance – as it helps me shape what I’m writing musically.

“We had a lot of great conversations leading up to rehearsal to get to know each other and she sent me the Kate Tempest lyrics.

When I was in the rehearsal room, I’d take note of what Maxine was telling the dancers and apply that to the music.”

 

“I’d bring my laptop, portable keyboard, studio headphones and notebook – that’s my set up – and I’d write ideas in the room, in that moment. It was a hands-on process and I love that. Sometimes I’d bring in my sax and improvise with the dancers and Maxine, record it and take it away.

Aerial view of Cassie working at white desk with keyboard and laptop

(Image: Cassie’s work set-up in the studio credit George Piper)

“A couple of members of the band came into a rehearsals to play what I’d composed so far and improvise on the ideas I’d written.

“What I wrote into Logic Pro and what the band sounded like sounds different, so there was initially some uncertainty surrounding the soundworld. But my focus was bringing together the vision that Maxine had with SEED Ensemble and blend things in a way that works for both.

It was a privilege to work with Maxine and the amazing dancers. They made me feel really welcome in the space. Sometimes composers are tacked on at the end, an afterthought, but I was involved from the beginning. There was a true sense of collaboration.”

The digital version of Deluxe will feature in the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine festival.

Main image: Cassie Kinoshi (credit Bunny Bread)

Improvising together for new album

1:3:5:7 Improvised Duos sees music staff, alum and students unite

A musical adventure blending percussion, jazz and improvisation, 1:3:5:7 Improvised Duos is the new digital release from Head of Composition Dominic Murcott

He is joined by four superb improvisers: trumpeter, alum and composition tutor Laura Jurd, saxophonist, PhD student and jazz composition tutor Tom Challenger, pianist and Head of Jazz Hans Koller, and violinist and Head of CoLab Joe Townsend.

 1:3:5:7 Improvised Duos record cover featuring an octopus

Created over four short recording sessions, each of the album’s 16 improvised pieces is either one, three, five or seven minutes long.

Dominic explains –

“The idea behind it was a simple question: if we know exactly how long the section is going to be, will it influence the material in each? For example, is the first gesture of a three-minute improvisation different to that of a seven-minute one?

“Like many musicians who make their living from a multitude of activities, I am always trying to balance drawn-out creative processes with rapid bursts of energy. This is very much a rapid burst project.”

On working with these four musicians, Dominic continues –

“I am lucky enough to have many friends who are great musicians, each with a very particular style. I’m also a sound engineer, so I was able to call upon collaborators with whom I was personally very comfortable and record, mix and master this recording myself. The process has therefore been intimate and as simple as it could possibly be.”

Joe Townsend, one of the featured players, comments –

“There is something really special about improvising with one other person. When you play alone, you can go anywhere; when you play with many people there are too many possibilities and it needs some kind of organisation to prevent the music from falling into chaos. When you make up music with one other person, you look for a shared space in which to listen, to lead and to follow. Sometimes you find it.”

This is Dominic’s second release on the Nonclassical label, following The Harmonic Canon, a work for the eponymous double bell that won a British Composer Award in 2017.

1:3:5:7 Improvised Duos  is available to download on Bandcamp.

Read Dominic’s interview about lockdown and the release on Nonclassical’s website.

To find out more about music at Trinity Laban, visit our Study pages.

Lead image: Dominic Murcott

Dance lecturer pens new book

Melanie Clarke’s The Essential Guide to Contemporary Dance Technique is a new practical resource aimed at 14 to 24-year-olds who are starting to see Contemporary Dance as a career route and planning on entering Higher Education level training.

Offering a unique insight into the expectations and processes of classes and the underlying principals behind technical skills, the guide seeks to demystify professional dance training and highlight how students can make the most of their experience.

We caught up with Melanie to find out more:

In the book, Melanie looks at three major technical forms: Graham technique, Cunningham technique and Release-Based technique. The text is accompanied by full colour images captured during real-life classes and dynamic performances at Trinity Laban. 

The guide also features personal contributions from respected teachers at top dance institutions, including several Trinity Laban staff.

Melanie completed both her undergraduate and masters dance degrees in at Trinity Laban before joining the Faculty of Dance as a teacher in 1998. She is now the Programme Leader for the Diploma in Dance Studies and Independent Study Programmes and a specialist in Labanotation and Choreology. 

The Essential Guide to Contemporary Dance Techniques is available now to purchase from the Crowood website.

To find out more about studying at Trinity Laban, visit our dance pages.

Staff and alumni receive new Zeitgeist Commissions

Former PhD candidate Ailie Robertson and composition tutor Soosan Lolavar will write new work for The Riot Ensemble.

Launched in response to the current Covid-19 crisis by The Riot Ensemble and Zeitge-ist.com, the new Zeitgeist Commissions offer paid opportunities for composers and musicians to continue to create together in a virtual context.

Among those selected to write short solo works for some of the top European soloists in new music are two members of the Trinity Laban community: multi-award winning composer and harpist Ailie Robertson and British-Iranian composer and educator Soosan Lolavar.

Ailie – who completed her PhD at Trinity Laban in the summer of 2019 – will write for cellist Louise McMonagle, while Soosan – composition tutor at Trinity Laban – has been commissioned to compose a short violin solo for Sarah Saviet.

The new works will premiere online over the coming months.

Ailie says –

“I had originally sent some scores to The Riot Ensemble during their Call for Scores, and I believe they had almost 450 entries, so it was a total pleasure to be chosen for this commission opportunity. This lockdown presents such unusual challenges for music creation, so it’s amazing to see the ensemble embracing the opportunity to collaborate in new, virtual ways. Writing for Louise is such a pleasure – she is an incredible cellist, and I can’t wait to hear the results!”

Soosan comments –

“Receiving this commission was like a hand reaching out in the dark. The strange anxiety of this period has left me feeling closed and not very creative. I was unsure about how to approach composing again.

Writing a short piece for a brilliant player feels like a first step on the road to creatively deal with my own understanding of isolation and I’m grateful for the chance to share such experiences with Sarah and a wider audience.” 

This is not the first time Ailie and Soosan’s music have been part of the same series: both were featured in our ground-breaking Venus Blazing initiative which championed the work of female creatives in our 2018/19 season.

Learn more about the commissions at riotensemble.com/zeitgeist/

To find out more about composition at Trinity Laban, visit our study pages.

Image L-R: Ailie Robertson (credit ailierobertson.com); Soosan Lolavar (credit Katherine Waters)

March Alumni Roundup

Our roundup of some of the successes of Trinity Laban alumni.

During these challenging times, alumni have continued to support the artistic community and find innovative new ways to keep creating.

Soprano Erika Madi-Jones has started creating ‘operagrams’ – messages sung through opera that can be sent to loved ones while families and friends are apart – while baritone John Savournin’s Charles Court Opera shared an important and comical quarantine message for all of us at home.

In response to the lockdown, Musical Theatre alum Anna Charlton launched new radio station Quarantine FM. Find out when you can tune in to hear Anna and her fellow hosts broadcasting live music and comedy content.

Overcoming venue cancellations, Manu Delago live-streamed his recent film Parasol Peak, on Facebook for audiences to enjoy at home. He will also be live-streaming an intimate concert from his London living room on Thursday 9 April, co-hosted on Trinity Laban’s Facebook page.

Originally set to perform on the Sadler’s Wells stage, BalletBoyz instead live-streamed their performance of new work Deluxe on the venue’s Facebook page. The show, which received a four-star review from the Guardian, featured new works The Intro by Sarah Golding with music from SEED Ensemble and Bradley 4:18 by award-winning choreographer Maxine Doyle with music composed by Cassie Kinoshi. The show is also on the programme for the BBC’s Culture in Quarantine Festival in the coming weeks. We caught up with company member Matthew Sandiford and Rehearsal Director Charlotte Pook to hear about the project and their experiences since graduating from Trinity Laban.

Staying creative and connected while self-isolating, Natalia Wierzbicka led an online orchestral performance of Carmen via Zoom with Street Orchestra Live. Watch the video here and spot the other alumni faces.

Continuing to share messages of positivity and creativity, alumni have been posting their #SelfIsolationCreations on social media. Have a listen to Valentina Ciardelli’s double bass interpretation of ‘Cha Cha’ from West Side Story, watch Yuan Jiaxin’s ‘Macarena’ and find out how to get creating yourself.

We were thrilled to hear that acclaimed choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne OBE was nominated for an Olivier Award for his work on West End hit, Mary Poppins. While we can’t see Matthew’s choreography performed live at the moment, New Adventures has released an archive recording of Late Flowering Lust (1993), choreographed by Matthew and featuring alumni Simon Murphy, Ally Fitzpatrick, Andrew George and Maxine Fone. It also co-starred the late Sir Nigel Hawthorne.

Dr Valerie Preston-Dunlop, expert on the life and work of Rudolf Laban, dance artist and acclaimed scholar, celebrated her 90th birthday this month. To mark the occasion, we took a look back over Valerie’s incredible career and her outstanding contributions to Trinity Laban in this article.

Trinity Laban dance alum and Diploma Programmes Leader Melanie Clarke published her new book The Essential Guide to Contemporary Dance Techniques. This instructional companion delves deeper into Cunningham, Graham and Release techniques, giving the reader a deeper understanding of their dance study.

Takeshi Matsumoto was selected as one of South East Dance’s very first Little Big Dance touring artists. Designed for young children, Takeshi’s immersive and participatory piece Club Origami will feature in the programme’s new season of educational outreach.

Many of our alumni enjoyed the final weeks before venue closures and social distancing, performing and seeing their talents celebrated all over the world. Dai Fujikura performed in Composer Portraits at the Miller Theatre while acclaimed pianist Reiko Fujisawa performed at Southbank Centre alongside our Carne Trust Ensemble in Residence, the Carducci Quartet.

Anna Stereopoulou was nominated for Classical:NEXT innovation award 2020 for her project PLANO. Anna was commended by adjudicators for her “persistence in using obstacles as inspiration, to invent and open new paths; for remaining active, without waiting for things to get better themselves”.

We were delighted to hear that two music alumni are set to feature in the Barbican’s 2020-21 series. Composer, researcher and curator Hollie Harding will present the world premiere of new work FERAL at a postponed date this year, while baritone James Newby will perform a self-curated programme featuring songs both old and new next January.

In true Trinity Laban style, our alumni continued to create work influenced by multiple facets of the arts. Earlier this month, Stefania Pinato and Erik Nevin performed at Sadler’s Wells as part of a dance performance based on Michael Keegan-Dolan’s new musical work The Only Tune.

Also exploring the union of music and dance, Royal Opera House and English National Ballet musician Akiko Hobson discussed the nuances, joys and struggles of life as a ballet pianist in her Ballet Piano Podcast while Anne Verheij (also known as ANNE point) continued her work curating the InShort international film festival in Shoreditch.

Stratford Circus saw dance company TRIBE// present their dynamic and empowering performance of Victoria Fox’s original work Still I Rise, inspired by Maya Angelou’s poem of the same name.

Also on the London contemporary dance scene, Elisabeth Schilling and Margarita Zafrilla Olayo performed at Siobhan Davies Studios in an Open Choreography Performance Evening, presenting works in progress and offering the chance to engage with their dance practice.

Harriet Waghorn’s EDIFICE Dance Theatre presented new work SALOMÉ at The Place while Red Bridge Arts’ production of The Secret Garden, with movement direction from dance alum Robbie Synge, toured the UK. Read this review of their performance at Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre.

Jazz alumni continued to be celebrated this month. Keyboardist Joe Armon-Jones and bassist Mutale Chashi lent their talents to Tony Allen and Hugh Masakela’s new collaborative album, Rejoice. Read this great review of the album and find out more about the legendary artists. Moses Boyd also received fantastic reviews for performances on his tour promoting new album Dark Matter.

A busy month for jazz-afrobeat band KOKOROKO, the eight-piece performed at BBC’s 6 Music Festival in Camden and released new track ‘Carry Me Home’ to wide acclaim. Also releasing new music was Emma-Jean Thackray with her EP Rain Dance. Read this interview with Emma where she talks about her influences and artistic process.

In a collaboration with street artist Zabou, Nubya Garcia modelled for a mural painted on the side of U7 Lounge in Haggerston, London. The saxophonist also joined Oscar Jerome and Joe Armon-Jones, collaborating on new EP Gilles Peterson Presents: M4, recorded live at BBC Maida Vale Studios.

Coming Up

Trinity Laban will co-host Manu Delago’s live-stream performance on Thursday 9 April. Tune in at 20.00 BST to see the composer perform alongside a surprise guest.

Ieva Dubova has begun a Q&A video blog series on Facebook, where she discusses life as a pianist with a special guest every Tuesday. Ieva will also live-stream her online piano recital on Friday 10 April at 19.00 featuring music by Schumann and Chopin.

Adam Murby will be live-streaming pilates classes from his living room – check out the schedule for the coming week on his website.

Join Matthew Bourne’s New Adventures on Instagram Live for open Company Classes.

Dance alum Hagit Yakira is live-streaming free dance classes for all ages to join in with at home every Wednesday and Friday evening at 18.00 BST.