During our graduation ceremonies last week, we were delighted to award a number of Honorary Fellowships to outstanding industry professionals and members of the TL community: celebrated Artistic Director Shobana Jeyasingh CBE, TCM alum and President of EMI Records, Rebecca Allen, and Julian Joseph OBE, one of the finest musicians in contemporary British Jazz. TL’s Vice Chair, Dr Geoffrey Copland CBE, was awarded an Honorary Companionship, and a moving posthumous award was made to our former Director of Dance, Mirella Bartrip OBE, received by her husband.
The Honorary Fellows were nominated for outstanding achievements and contributions to the arts throughout their careers. Shobana Jeyasingh CBE founded her dance company in 1989 and has created over 60 critically acclaimed works for stage, screen, and outside and indoor sites, ranging from Palladian monasteries in Venice to contemporary fountains in London. Her works are noted for both their intellectual rigour and visceral physicality, remaining rooted in her experience as a female postcolonial citizen of the world. Many of them form part of the National Curriculum for Dance in the UK. A multi-award winning creative, Shobana was named Asian Woman of Achievement in Art and Culture in 2008 and was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award at the WOW Women in Creative Industries Awards in 2017. Serving on panels such as Arts Council England and the Royal Opera House, she is also patron of the Imperial Society of Teachers of Dancing. Her distinguished artistic career extends to working as a researcher and scriptwriter for two pioneering programmes on British Asian Arts for Channel Four. A founding member and research fellow of ResCen at Middlesex University, she was invited to take on the role of Knowledge Producer by the Cultural Institute at Kings College London in 2014 which led to Translocations, a series of films where choreographic narratives met a range of academic disciplines. More recently, Shobana was a judge for BBC Young Dancer in both 2017 and 2019.
Rebecca Allen is one of the most powerful and influential executives in the British music industry today. As President of EMI Records, Rebecca oversees a roster of artists that comprises home-grown talent signed directly to the label, and international superstars who have chosen to make EMI their UK home, ranging from Taylor Swift to Paul McCartney and Metallica. A former student at Trinity College of Music, Rebecca began her career with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and then the BBC Proms. Her tenacity, warmth and eye for a great story quickly saw her get snapped up by Universal Music Group, where she enjoyed a meteoric rise through the legendary Decca label. She started as a press assistant in the Classics and Jazz Division, then as Director of Media, rising to General Manager, then Managing Director, before becoming President of Decca in 2017: the youngest person – and the first woman in its long and distinguished 90-year history – ever to hold this role. Rebecca put UK country music in the spotlight, helped bring jazz to a much wider audience, championed young classical stars, and collaborated with artists including Nicola Benedetti and Rod Stewart. A multi-award winning executive, she was recognised as Businesswoman of the Year at Music Week’s Women in Music Awards in 2017 in addition to being named as one of US Publication Billboard’s Women in Music Awards Power Players. In the same year, she became a board member at Trinity Laban. As Co-Chair of the Classic BRIT Awards, she led the award show to be nominated for a BAFTA for the first time in its history in 2021.
Reflecting on her time at Trinity Laban, Rebecca stated: “I look back at the years I spent studying at Trinity as some of the most important and formative years of my life. It was an incredibly fulfilling experience and helped me discover the characteristics about myself that I could then utilise to start a career within music. Being a professional musician wasn’t something I ever wanted to do but fortunately Trinity understood the bigger picture and helped me focus on other incredibly important areas with music and arts management. Their ethos was so refreshing!”.
Acclaimed as one of today’s finest jazz musicians, Julian Joseph OBE has dedicated his career to championing jazz across the UK and worldwide. He has forged a reputation beyond his formidable skills as a composer and performer, and is universally recognised as a highly knowledgeable and engaging broadcaster, musical ambassador, educator, and cultural advocate. Over the past 35 years, Julian has made ground-breaking advances for jazz in the UK. He was the first Black British jazz musician to host a series at London’s Wigmore Hall, and the first to headline a late-night concert at the BBC Proms with his All Star Big Band. As a composer, Julian has written original works for symphony orchestra, big band and chamber ensemble, and received major commissions from the BBC, the Hackney Music Development Trust, the City of London Festival and the London Jazz Festival. His operas and dance works – Bridgetower, Shadowball, The Brown Bomber, Othello21 – have not only brought key moments in Black history into sharp focus, but given children a rare opportunity to perform in and discover both classical and jazz music. Founding his own Jazz Academy in 2013, it stands as the single most important player for TL’s jazz practice and vision, alongside Tomorrow’s Warriors. Joseph has six albums, one single, and one soundtrack to his credit, and his work has been recognised by multiple major cultural organisations. He published his debut jazz book, Music of Initiative, in 2018.
TL’s Vice Chair, Dr Geoffrey Copland CBE, served as Vice-Chancellor and Rector of the University of Westminster until 2007, following a series of university posts engaged in research, lecturing in physics, and as a senior manager. He has held several positions in prestigious higher education organisations, including Vice-President of Universities UK and Chair of its England and Northern Ireland Council, as well as Chair of the Universities and Colleges Employers Association. Geoffrey has been a TL governor since 2008, becoming Vice-Chair in 2013, and Chair since September 2019. He has also been a trustee of Trinity College London since 2012, vice-chair from 2016 and chair in 2019-2020. Other notable positions include chairman of Thomas Wall Trust, president of ASET (the Work Based and Placement Learning Association) and a trustee of the Quintin Hogg Trust and Quintin Hogg Memorial Fund. He has a strong interest in helping young people to achieve to their full potential, by overcoming barriers to progression wherever possible. Since retirement, he has undertaken a number of consultancy projects for higher education including some on university governance.
Mirella Bartrip OBE started her distinguished career at Trinity Laban as a lecturer, teaching classical ballet, dance technique theory, and teaching studies. In 1984, she became Programme Leader for the undergraduate dance programme. Over a period of 20 years, she led a series of reviews that refined and shaped the programme into what is recognised internationally as one of the world’s most prestigious dance degrees. As the first Vice Principal (Academic) and then Deputy Director & Dean of Studies, she oversaw the creation and development of a series of flagship Masters programmes, including the UK’s first Masters programme in Dance Science. She was also an important figure in the merger with Trinity College of Music, leading to the formation of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance. In 2010, Mirella became Director of Dance at Trinity Laban. Her numerous achievements have included being part of the team that saw Trinity Laban gain its own Taught Degree Awarding Powers, and successfully enter the Research Excellence Framework for the first time. Mirella gained an international reputation as a dance educator, and was regularly invited to judge competitions and assess dance work across the globe. Having passed away in 2021, she leaves a magnificent creative legacy behind her and her posthumous award in honour of her exceptional service to Trinity Laban was received by her husband.