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Ayanna Witter Johnson holding cello bow behind her head with defiant expression

TL Alum Joins London Music Fund

Multi-instrumentalist Ayanna Witter-Johnson named Ambassador and Trustee

Acclaimed singer, songwriter, pianist and cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson graduated with a first-class honours degree in composition from Trinity Laban in 2008, and has established a celebrated career as a performer, orchestrator, composer and musical maverick.

Now she will join Nicola Benedetti CBE, YolanDa Brown, Jess Gillam, MBE and Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE as an Ambassador for London Music Fund (LMF).

Established in 2011 by fellow music alum Chrissy Kinsella, the Fund is an independent charity that works in partnership with London’s 32 Music Education Hubs, and with other education and music providers, to enable children to access high-quality music education.

Ambassadors play a significant role within the charity, both promoting its work and as inspiring role models for young musicians.

In her new role, Witter-Johnson will be joining young musicians at a LMF workshop at on Sunday 3 July.

In addition, LMF have announced that she has been appointed to the charity’s Board of Trustees, led by Chair, Baroness Fleet, Veronica Wadley CBE.

The announcement comes shortly after London-born Witter-Johnson, who is celebrate for crossing the boundaries of classical, jazz, reggae and R&B music, was appointed to the Board of Awards For Young Musicians.

In LMF’s press release, Witter-Johnson commented –

“As a Londoner myself, I fully understand the importance of supporting young musicians in the capital on their musical journey. The LMF is undoubtedly creating life-changing opportunities for young musicians to thrive so I am truly honoured to be joining as an Ambassador and Trustee and look forward to being part of the organisation’s fantastic work in our city.”

LMF CEO Chrissy Kinsella commented –

“We are thrilled to have Ayanna joining us both as an Ambassador and Trustee. As one of the UK’s most exciting and innovative young musicians, she brings a new voice to our work. Her personal experience as a young London musician will be integral to our future plans as we develop and grow as an organisation, and I am certain that she will inspire the young people we work with, through her immense creative talent.”

Find out more about Trinity Laban’s programmes nurture creative entrepreneurs and future changemakers on our Study Pages.



Matthew Bourne

Multiple nominations for Sir Matthew Bourne OBE at National Dance Awards 2022

The TL alum and his company New Adventures have been shortlisted for a total of seven accolades

The UK’s Critics’ Circle has announced nominations for its annual National Dance Awards, and Matthew Bourne’s The Midnight Bell tops the list of individual productions with five nominations.

The celebrated choreographer completed his BA at Trinity Laban before going on to do the Graduate Diploma in Dance Performance (Transitions Dance Company) graduating in 1986. Matthew launched New Adventures in 2002.

The company has now secured seven nominations at this year’s awards including the Stef Stefanou Award for Outstanding Company.

The Royal Ballet’s The Dante Project, by Trinity Laban Visiting Professor of Choreography Wayne McGregor, has also secured four nominations.

The winners will be announced at a live ceremony in London on 13 June 2022.

Image credit: Hugo Glendinning

TL dancers are finalists for BBC Young Dancer 2022

Two alumni of the conservatoire’s CAT scheme will compete in Saturday’s Grand Final

The ultimate talent show for young UK dancers, BBC Young Dancer showcases some of the best up-and-coming performers from ballet to contemporary, street to tap and South Asian.

The competition is overseen by TL alum and former Chief Executive and Artistic Director of London’s international festival Dance Umbrella, Emma Gladstone OBE.

To adjudicate this year, Emma is joined by some of the industry’s best talent including Hip Hop dance phenomenon Gianna Gi, South Asian choreographer Geetha Sridhar, independent dance artist Annie Hanauer and award-winning multi-disciplinary artist Ivan Blackstock.

They will be judging the talents of 10 dancers, including 19-year-olds Hannah Joseph and Robert Dunkley-Gyimah, who trained as part of Trinity Laban’s Centre for Advance Training.

The innovative scheme offers young people with exceptional talent and potential in dance the opportunity to access high quality dance training. The programme of classes provides intensive and rigorous dance training taught by a highly experienced team of professional dance teachers and artists.

Robert discovered his passion for dance aged 12, and has trained in street dance, ballet and contemporary, while Hannah started in a local ballet school at six before joining the CAT scheme and is now a member of National Youth Dance Company.

They will compete to be crowned BBC Young Dancer 2022 in the Grand Final at London’s Roundhouse, broadcast on Saturday 7 May on BBC TWO and on iPlayer.

BBC Young Dancer 2022 – The Final | Trailer – BBC Trailers – YouTube

Discover more about studying dance at Trinity Laban.

Alumni Roundup April 2022

Our monthly round-up of some of the successes for Trinity Laban alumni.

Alumni took the spotlight in many performances over the course of April. John Savournin joined Oxford Opera in their first performance since the pandemic. He also featured in English National Opera’s 2021 production of HMS Pinafore, which was broadcast on Sky Arts at the end of April.  

Ezra Collective performed at 6 Music festival, and Joe Armon-Jones played a Jazz FM session.  

Alumni also featured in new releases this month. Moses Boyd joined Quinn Oulton for his new single Clashing Colours. 

Deschanel Gordon features on Rowan Flack’s new single, The Calling. 

The soundtrack for the new Downton Abbey film, featuring Cherise Adams-Burnett, has been released. 

Diphonon Duo, of whom Michael Iskas is one half, have released their new album Emerging Voices. 

Malcolm Earle Smith’s album, Vocal Intent, features alumni Leo Richardson, Chris Eldred, Conor Chaplin, and Douglas Marriner. The release has been described by London Jazz News as ‘a brave album full of unexpected rewards’. 

Reviews and features covered alumni, their works, and their performances this month.  

balletLORENT’s production of The Lost Happy Endings at Sadler’s Wells, directed and choreographed by Liv Lorent, was described as ‘an introduction to the magic of storytelling through dance’ by The Reviews Hub. 

Nardus Williams’ appearance with the London Handel Orchestra garnered this review in the Guardian. 

Limon Dance Company, led by Dante Puleio, was reviewed in the New York Times for their performance in the Joyce Theater. 

Punchdrunk has received coverage for its new immersive theatre piece The Burnt City, including reviews in the Guardian and the Evening Standard, and an appearance on Channel 4 featuring Associate Director and Choreographer Maxine Doyle. 

Doyle’s choreography is also featured alongside Cassie Kinoshi’s music in BalletBoyz’ Bradley 4:18, which was praised by the Guardian . 

Parallax Orchestra featured in Kerrang! this month. Alum and founder Will Harvey talks about how the orchestra became “rock’s indisputable go-to group for all things orchestral”. 

Candoco Dance Company, which includes alumni Olivia Edington and Megan Armishaw, were featured in the New York Times, ahead of their New York debut. 

Xhosa Cole was interviewed by London Jazz News, ahead of his April 30 concert for International Jazz Day. It was also announced that he would be part of this year’s Take Five talent development programme from production company Serious. 

Alumni were also the subjects of awards and announcements in April. Luca Silvestrini’s Protein Dance Company announced dance workshops for refugees and asylum seekers this month. 

Louise Balkwill won the Vocal Jazz prize at the Riga Jazz Stage 2022. 

Ayanna Witter-Johnson has been cast as Snake in Amazon Studio’s upcoming series Anansi Boys. 

The Critics’ Circle Dance Award nominations have been announced, with Matthew Bourne featuring among the nominees. 

Heloise Werner has been commissioned by Radio France to write two new works for their upcoming season. 


Coming Up: 

Many TL dance alumni will be appearing at Resolution Dance Festival 2020, The Place’s celebration of new choreography and performance works. These will include Innovation Award winners Laura Engholm (2020) and Tough Boys Dance Collective (2021). 

Konrad Jaromin has been cast in Opera Holland Park’s rendition of Eugene Onegin, premiering May 31. 

Cherise Adams Burnett

Hollywood Role for Jazz Alum

Award-winning British singer Cherise Adams-Burnett features in hotly anticipated film Downton Abbey: A New Era

Scored by composer and TL Honorary Fellow John Lunn the soundtrack for Downton Abbey: A New Era has been released on Decca Records.

It features a new generation of UK jazz and soul artists, including award-winning British singer and TL alum Cherise Adams-Burnett, whose voice shines on ‘Crazy Rhythm’ and ‘Am I Blue’.

The jazz vocalist also appears in the film, released 29 April, performing songs from the soundtrack.

Adams-Burnett comments –

“I would have never thought I’d be cast in Downton Abbey, to be part of the soundtrack is even more of a bonus to bring this great story to life. I tried to channel the energy of Josephine Baker, a notable rebel of her time and even today with my own soul music, I try to channel her individuality, fun and flare.”

Since graduating from Trinity Laban in 2017, Adams-Burnett has performed at prestigious venues and festivals ranging from the BBC Proms at The Royal Albert Hall and the Kennedy Centre in Washington D.C to the Love Supreme Jazz Festival. She was awarded Jazz FM’s Vocalist of the in 2019 and Vocalist of the Year by the Parliamentary Jazz Awards in 2020.

The soundtrack retains the distinctive orchestration and title motifs from the multiple Emmy Award-winning series whilst celebrating the story’s entrance to the 1930s.

John Lunn comments –

“Along with reworking familiar and well-loved themes, the new storylines have opened up a whole new vista for me.”

Lunn has already received two Primetime Emmy Awards and two BAFTA nominations for his scores for Downton Abbey.

mike dixon conducting orchestra

Turn Around and Take a Bow

Leading musical director and TL alum Mike Dixon to publish book on life and career featuring fond memories of his conservatoire days

Musical Director, composer and arranger Mike Dixon studied piano at Trinity Laban (then Trinity College of Music) from 1975-1979.

Since graduating, he has enjoyed a successful career working extensively across theatre, TV, radio and live events. Credits include six Royal Variety Shows, Pop Idol and several West End productions such as We Will Rock You and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.

Now he is reflecting on his life and four-decade career in new book Turn Around and Take a Bow, due to be published 28 June 2022.

The biography includes a chapter revisiting his studies at Trinity Laban, with references to “colourful friends, brilliant teachers and the endless musical adventure”.

Dixon shares an excerpt –

“I played with many singers over my four years at Trinity [Laban] but very early on found myself playing Brahms Four Serious Songs and Elgar’s Sea Pictures with an extraordinary contralto called Lucy Coleby.

“We were playing in the Lecture Theatre of Trinity [Laban] where the concert grand was a nine-foot Bösendorfer with the extra notes at the bottom covered by a little black flap, still one of my favourite pianos. It was one of the regular Wednesday afternoon concerts in front of our peers and some invited guests.

“One of the special guests was a lady in her eighties, Gladys Puttick, who had been one of the most innovative and forward-thinking teachers of her generation. A veritable ‘Nadia Boulanger’ of Trinity [Laban] and highly revered. In her youth she had seen Brahms play and I was somewhat stunned when she quietly came over to me after the concert and whispered that my playing was like hearing Brahms himself at the piano. Antony Lindsay standing beside me beamed with pride, his elegant coaching and patient advice had paid off.”

It promises to paint a vivid picture of life at Mandeville Place, the former home of the conservatoire before it’s relocation to Greenwich.

The autobiography will be available from Troubador publishing.

Cohort of students in caps and gowns.

Alumni Roundup March 2022

Our monthly round-up of some of the successes for Trinity Laban alumni.

March saw new releases from music alumni. Estraven, the jazz quartet including alumni Duncan Eagles and Chris Hyde-Harrison, released their new album Ignored Advice, and jazz quintet Ezra Collective, which features alumni Femi Koleoso and Joe Armon-Jones, released their new track May The Funk Be With You. 

Anna Stereopoulou wrote the music for Into the Land of Ice and Fire, a documentary film about the Sámi people of the European arctic, which was premiered at the 24th Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, and Serafina Steer appears in the band for the soundtrack of the BBC series This is Going To Hurt, which was released this month. 

Music and dance alumni also performed throughout the month. Candoco Dance Company, featuring alumni Megan Armishaw and Olivia Edgington, had several of their works featured in Sydney Opera House’s Digital Season. 

Choreographer Malik Nashad Sharpe’s piece He’s Dead, inspired by the music and life of Tupac Shakur, was performed at Battersea Arts Centre this month. The piece was reviewed well in the Guardian and the Stage.  

Cloud Gate Theatre, of whom Ching-Chun Lee is Associate Artistic Director, presented their new work Send in a Cloud in a tour around Taiwan this month. Also touring is Jeff Wayne’s musical production of War of the Worlds. 

The Love is Attention series of live events and concerts took place around Lewisham throughout March. Moses Boyd’s concert in this series at The Albany received a 5-star review in the Evening Standard. 

Nardus Williams appeared in Cosi fan tutte with the English National Opera, which received this 4-star review from the Stage. 

March saw the annual SXSW Music Festival take place, where several music alumni performed. The Austin Chronicle interviewed Daniel Casimir about the event, and praised him, Cherise Adams-Burnett and Cassie Kinoshi for their performances in this review. 

Cassie also featured as cover star for Jazzwise’s April 2022 edition celebrating the magazine’s 25th anniversary, and the magazine’s list of the best new albums for March 2022 featured Feeding the Machine, the recent album from Binker and Moses, and Legacy, from the group Kinetica Bloco, which includes alumni Emmanuel Franklyn Adelabu, Lily Carassik, Mark Kavuma, Nubya Garcia, Reuben James, Ruben Fox, and Sheila Maurice-Grey. 

Also featuring in the media this month was alum and Director of the New Zealand School of Dance Garry Trinder, who spoke to Dance Europe’s about the school’s 55th anniversary celebrations. 

Reuben James appeared in Complex’s list of British R&B and Soul artists to watch in 2022, while Nubya Garcia was interviewed by Stereogum for their Month in Jazz column, and Dai Fujikira’s Bach-inspired Sweet Suites featured in the Strad’s examination of several pieces composed during the quarantine. 

Alumni have also celebrated wins, appointments and new research during March. 

Luca Silvestrini’s dance company Protein has been involved in the Rural Touring Dance Initiative, bringing dance to spaces outside of large cultural centres. The RTDI’s findings were published at the end of February, showing how rural touring could be a new reliable path for the sector. 

Emma Redding has been appointed Director of the Victorian College of the Arts at the University of Melbourne. 

James Newby received a Borletti-Buitoni Trust prize. 


Coming Up: 

The cast of The Secret Diary of Adrien Mole Aged 13 ¾ at Queen’s Theatre Hornchurch has been announced, with alum Tom Self playing Bert. The show will run 28 April – 21 May. 

Jazz ensemble Kokoroko, featuring alumni Sheila Maurice-Grey and Cassie Kinoshi, announced their debut album Could We Be More is set to be released in August. 

Cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson performs at Wigmore Hall on 5 May. 

TL to debut at the Palladium

Musical theatre students will sing alongside West End stars and TL alumni in Lerner and Loewe’s Camelot in concert.

Following 2019’s celebrated concert production of Doctor Zhivago at Cadogan Hall, 35 future stars from our vibrant Musical Theatre Department will once again share the stage with West End and Broadway legend Ramin Karimloo.

Our second and third year students to the stage at iconic London Palladium theatre in an exclusive concert production of Camelot on Sunday 6 February 2022.

Also featuring in the performance is 2013 Trinity Laban vocal graduate Georgi Mottram, who will play Nimue.

From the writers of My Fair Lady, the Tony-Award-winning musical Camelot tells the story of the legendary love triangle between King Arthur, Guenevere and Sir Lancelot.

The one-night-only performance is presented by Lambert Jackson in association with live music and event promoters Cuffe and Taylor.

Lambert Jackson Creative Director Eliza Jackson comments –

“Lerner and Loewe created the most soaring music with wonderfully descriptive lyrics and to be given the opportunity to bring this story to life at the magnificent London Palladium is something we very much look forward to doing.”

Situated in the heart of the UK’s musical theatre capital, Trinity Laban has an outstanding reputation for rigorous and dynamic performance training. Recent graduates have performed in the West End (Wicked, 42nd Street and Fiddler on the Roof) and in UK and international touring productions such as The Lion King, Ghost, and Rock of Ages.

To find out more about studying at Trinity Laban, visit our Musical Theatre pages

Image courtesy of Lambert Jackson Productions

Emma Redding headshot with overlaid graphic shapes in blue and gold

New Year Honour for Professor Emma Redding

Trinity Laban’s Head of Dance Science receives MBE for services to dance

The New Year Honours List recognises the achievements and service of extraordinary people across the UK and this year Trinity Laban staff have again been recognised for their dedication and talent.

Originally trained as a dancer, Professor Emma Redding wrote the world’s first master’s degree in Dance Science for Trinity Laban in 2001. She has since played a key role in developing dance science as a recognised field of study through her research and international teaching, establishing the conservatoire as a leader in dance science education, research and clinical services.

On receiving an MBE for services to dance, Redding comments –

“I am humbled and hugely grateful to receive an MBE Queen’s Honour for services to dance. Dance and performance science is now a viable and established area of research and study, a collaborative achievement that has involved many talented people. This award is in recognition of a shared and passionate effort by all the dedicated individuals who have contributed to the field.”

Redding teaches physiology and contemporary technique at Trinity Laban alongside her management and research work. She was one of the Principal Investigators of a Conservatoires UK large-scale musicians’ health study funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Co-Investigator of a creativity and imagery study, in collaboration with Plymouth University and Coventry University.

She is also a founding partner of the National Institute for Dance Medicine and Science (NIDMS) and a former President of the International Association for Dance Medicine and Science (IADMS).

Redding was conferred with the title of Professor in Performance Science at Trinity Laban in January 2017.

Also recognised this year was Trinity Laban Honorary Fellow Mark Pemberton, Director of the Association of British Orchestras.

Kerry Nicholls headshot

A new chapter for Kerry Nicholls

TL alum becomes Associate Director, Artistic Development at English National Ballet

With 30 years’ experience in the sector, dance alum Kerry Nicholls is celebrated internationally for her agile leadership, influential coaching and exceptional contemporary dance teaching.

Since graduating from Trinity Laban in 1991 with a Certificate in Dance Theatre, Kerry has served as Co-Director of Creative Learning for Studio Wayne McGregor (2007 – 2011), the Artistic Advisor for English National Ballet School (2008 – 2015), Artistic Director of National Youth Dance Wales (2014-2018), and Interim Artistic Director for Scottish Dance Theatre (2019). Last year, Kerry was appointed Executive Artistic Lead for English National Ballet.

In 2012, she launched Kerry Nicholls Dance to run training, mentoring and professional development programmes within dance organisations and institutions world-wide. Two-years later she was awarded a Lisa Ullmann Travelling Scholarship to embark on an extensive period of research in the USA, shadowing and assisting Liz Lerman and advancing her work in the Critical Response Process.

At the end of 2021, it was announced that Kerry would join English National Ballet in a full-time role as their Associate Director, Artistic Development.

On her appointment, she comments –

“I am looking forward to this exciting new chapter.”

Founded in 1950 as London Festival Ballet by Alicia Markova and Anton Dolin, English National Ballet brings world class ballet to the widest possible audience through live performances, digital platforms and its distinguished orchestra. It is a UK leader in creative learning and engagement practice, building innovative partnerships to deliver flagship programmes such as English National Ballet’s Dance for Parkinson’s.

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

Image credit: Foteini-Christofilopoulou

Cohort of students in caps and gowns.

Alumni Roundup November 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.