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TL Professors named top players by BBC

Leon Bosch and Chi-Chi Nwanoku feature in BBC Classical Music magazine’s list of the 10 best double bass players.

TL Professor Leon Bosch and Visiting Professor and Honorary Fellow Chi-Chi Nwanoku OBE, both feature in BBC Classical Music magazine’s list of the 10 best players who have helped to develop the role of the double bass as a solo and chamber instrument.

Throughout his diverse career as virtuoso player, conductor and broadcaster, Leon has been committed to rediscovering neglected music, as well as expanding and diversifying the double bass repertoire. He commissions chamber arrangements of well-known symphonic classics for his ensemble I Musicanti.

Chi-Chi is the Founder, Artistic and Executive Director of the Chineke! Foundation, which supports, inspires and encourages Black, Asian and ethnically diverse classical musicians working in the UK and Europe. Her range of musical interests have resulted in a broad career performing and recording in a diversity of styles from authentic baroque through to 21st century and new commissions.

The world-renowned performers are part of our exceptional roster of teaching staff inspiring students in our dynamic and innovative Strings Department.

Image: Leon Bosch (credit Juno Snowdon)

Douglas finch sat at open lid grand piano

World premiere of new chamber opera by TL teacher

Take Care by piano professor Douglas Finch celebrates the remarkable work of carers

Trinity Laban piano professor and curator of New Lights Festival Douglas Finch has penned a brand-new chamber opera with librettist Cindy Oswin.

Telling the story of carer Katie’s and her clients, Take Care is based on extensive research into the working lives of those who care for people with dementia and features a chorus of twelve carers from the local community in Nottingham.

The elegant and direct narrative is supported by a complex yet accessible and empathetic score by Finch that has stylistic references ranging from Vaudeville to Wagner.

It premieres at Lakeside Arts Centre in Nottingham 2 April 2022, under the baton of Trinity Laban’s Head of Orchestra Studies Jonathan Tilbrook.

Take Care is supported by Arts Council/National Lottery and the ESRC Impact Accelerator Fund.

Five men and women with pained expressions and fingers in their ears

Anyone Can Sing

TL vocal tutor Sarah Pring mentors would-be singers for new Sky Arts show

International mezzo soprano Sarah Pring has been a part of Trinity Laban’s vibrant vocal department for the last eight years, whilst carving out a flourishing performance career singing with companies such as Scottish Opera and English National Opera.

At Trinity Laban, she brings her knowledge of the profession, practical advice and holistic approach to nurture students and help them develop their individual talents and find their own artistic voice.

Now, she’s turned her expertise to six of the UK and Ireland’s “worst singers”.

Working alongside Nicky Spence and Michael Harper, the world-class vocal coach has spent three intensive months transforming the vocal-stylings of participants from screeching in the shower to performing like a pro in a bid to prove that Anyone Can Sing.

On being part of the series, Sarah comments –

“It has been incredibly rewarding to open up the classical music space and empower our participants to discover their voices. Accessibility in the arts is so important – creativity and expression are for everyone. In three months I’ve seen how life-changing this process has been in terms of improving confidence and positively impacting general wellbeing.”

Before Anyone Can Sing Sarah worked with BBC Comic Relief, training comedians to sing operatically.

Watch the process from Wednesday 30 March on Sky Arts.

At Trinity Laban, we support our students’ personal development as versatile and curious musicians. To find out more, visit our vocal pages.

Joe Townsend playing violin with bow raised accompanying two smiling contemporary dancers in motion

Trinity Laban professor named Inspirational Educator 2022

Joe Townsend receives Educators’ Trust Award in Music Education

Trinity Laban’s Head of BA Music Performance and Industry and Head of CoLab, Joe Townsend, has been recognised by The Worshipful Company of Educators for his outstanding innovation and excellence in educational practice.

Joe leads the Conservatoire’s ground-breaking artist development work that prepares students with the vital skills needed to both succeed in and shape the musical landscape.

Presented annually, the Inspirational Educator Award celebrates the impact of individual teachers in specific areas of focus. This year’s theme was Music Education.

On receiving the award, Joe comments –

“I’m deeply honoured and humbled to receive this award. Leading CoLab at Trinity Laban has shown me that sharing our individual stories together through making music and dance helps us understand how we learn, find new ways of expression, and, ultimately, bring light into challenging times.”

Director of Music Havilland Willshire, who nominated Joe, comments –

“Joe is one of the great innovators. Not only does he have the vision to draw disparate ideas together but also the ability to forge the relationships that are necessary to put these ideas into practice.

“This is truly inspirational work, and we are delighted that Trinity Laban has provided the environment through which Joe has been able to foster his ambitions for music education and that his work has been recognised by an Inspirational Educator Award from The Worshipful Company of Educators Trust.”

Initially a self-taught musician in the punk era, Joe later trained in Jazz on the violin at the Guildhall in the 1980s and then at Community Music with John Stevens, using improvisation as a tool for social change.

As well as being a cultural commentator, Joe regularly speaks at conferences on collaboration, pedagogy, audience development and social entrepreneurship. He consults on early career survival for emerging artists with Serious Productions, Help Musicians UK and English Folk Expo and running courses for the V&A Innovative Leadership Programme.

Founded in 2001, The Worshipful Company of Educators champions and supports the transformative power of education. It presents a programme of annual awards and bursaries for individual educators through its Educators’ Trust.

The prize will be presented at an Awards Dinner later this year.

Find out more about our world-leading teaching staff.

Hollie Harding - MSLW

‘A Change of Season’ UK Tour

In response to the climate emergency, Trinity Laban String Ensemble reimagines Vivaldi’s iconic masterpiece The Four Seasons and revives Hollie Harding’s immersive and eco-political Melting, Shifting, Liquid World, exploring the seasons as they should be and contemplating what they may become.

Read the full programme here

From the bird song of Spring to the cracking ice of Winter, Vivaldi captures the extraordinary sounds of the changing seasons. In this new interpretation, our String Ensemble combines music, sound and movement to bring Vivaldi’s score to life as never before.

Blending innovative audio technology, promenading musicians and field recordings of Arctic sea ice, Hollie Harding’s Melting, Shifting Liquid World forefronts the consequence of rising temperatures and ocean pollution. The work is the first composition to incorporate the use of Shokz open-ear, bone-conduction headsets alongside live instruments, creating a multi-layered sonic environment for the audience to explore.

On her inspiration to create the work, TL alum and lecturer Hollie comments –

“Sometimes, art is a more arresting way of dealing with issues like climate change as it presents information in a way that can really move people.”

Devised by violist, conductor and Trinity Laban Head of Strings Nic Pendlebury, the thought-provoking programme reframes the climate crisis through an artistic lens to examine the fragility of our modern world. The staging of the Vivaldi Four Seasons is directed by theatre director Anna Morrissey and designed by Carla Goodman, and features original soundscapes by Jamie Elless.

As the UK’s only music and dance conservatoire, we support a wide range of innovative and collaborative activity that pushes the boundaries of art forms and promote the development of new artistic media.

Opening at London’s National Maritime Museum (19 & 20 March), the ensemble will tour to Stoller Hall, Manchester and Shipley Arts Festival, before heading to Latitude Festival this summer with their environmental agenda.

Stephen Upshaw returns to TL

This spring, the American violist is set to engage with music and dance students in a series of projects, concerts and workshops

Having held the Trinity Laban Carne Trust Junior Fellowship 2016-17, accomplished violist Stephen Upshaw returns to the conservatoire this spring to inspire the next generation of talented young musicians.

Stephen is a noted interpreter of contemporary music as both a soloist and chamber musician. He is a member of the innovative Solem Quartet and London’s Riot Ensemble and has worked closely with many of today’s leading composers, including John Adams, George Benjamin and Errollyn Wallen.

With a strong interest in synthesizing music with other fields, Stephen’s expertise will be exercised during CoLab, our annual festival of collaboration that sees students and stuff from across our faculties unite for a fortnight of experimental and creative projects.

Alongside fellow Solem Quartet musicians, he will work with students from Trinity Laban’s string, composition and dance departments to co-create Bela Bartok Now: Song & Dance. The project is inspired by the Solem Quartet’s Beethoven Bartok Now concept, which uniquely reimagines classical works with music from composers of today. It will weave existing music from Bartok, Beethoven and living composer Jasmine Morris, culminating in an hour-long performance side-by-side at Blackheath Halls (17 Feb).

In April, the quartet will return to coach chamber groups and give a lunchtime concert.

Stephen will also work with Trinity Laban composition students over four workshops in spring to create new works for viola, cello, mezzo-soprano and soprano, alongside his colleagues from the Riot Ensemble. And he will share his understanding of contemporary music with string students in a masterclass at the end of February.

Reflecting on his relationship with Trinity Laban, Stephen shares –

“My time at Trinity Laban as a Carne Trust Junior Fellow was an invaluable period of discovery with the amazing support and resource that the College had to offer.

“I’m so excited to be returning to Trinity Laban for so many projects this year. My career is now focused on chamber music and contemporary music – both aspects I’ll be exploring through the upcoming projects with Riot Ensemble and The Solem Quartet.

“I can’t wait to work with the wonderful students in string, composition and dance departments across the next few months and am thrilled to once again return to the Trinity Laban community.”


Image credit: Matthew Johnson

Blowing the trumpet for John Blanke

Trinity Laban and Nubian Jak Community Trust unveil Blue Plaque honouring the 16th century court musician.

Royal-court trumpeter John Blanke served two kings and contributed to some of the greatest spectacles of the Tudor age. Playing in the courts of Henry VII and Henry VIII, he was amongst the highest-paid musicians working at Greenwich Palace.

Blanke is believed to be the earliest known Black Briton for whom we have both an image and a record, featuring twice in the Great Tournament Roll of Westminster, a 60ft manuscript depicting the royal procession and tournament to celebrate the birth of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon heir on New Year’s Day 1511.

On Friday 14 January 2022, over 500 years since the sounds of John Blanke’s trumpet filled the air in Greenwich, Trinity Laban and Nubian Jak Community Trust unveiled a commemorative blue plaque to honour the musician.

Speaking at the event to share insight into Blanke’s life and work were historian and National Director of the John Blanke Project, Michael Ohajura, Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Historic England, Jane Sidell, The Reverend Simon Winn of St Alfege Church, Greenwich, and Dr Jak Beula, CEO of Nubian Jak Community Trust.

In a contemporary nod to Blanke’s musicality, Trinity Laban trumpeters played African-American composer Gary Powell Nash’s Enigmatic Fanfare, while writer Mark Thompson shared his poem John Blanke in which he responds to how the musician has and will be remembered.

Four trumpeters with music stands stood holding instruments to lips playing

The blue plaque has been installed at Trinity Laban’s Faculty of Music at the Old Royal Naval College, the site of the former royal residence.

In attendance were local dignitaries, representatives from the College of Arms, The National Archive and Historic England, and Trinity Laban staff.

Havilland Willshire, Trinity Laban’s Director of Music, comments –

“As the current guardians of King Charles Court, Trinity Laban treasures and celebrates the building’s unique history. It is a privilege for us to host the John Blanke plaque at our Faculty of Music as part of our Black Culture 365 series, our year-round commitment to celebrating Black history and art.”

Dr Jak Beula, CEO of Nubian Jak Community Trust, comments –

“The Trust is delighted to receive the support of Historic England, Trinity Laban, The John Blanke Project and other stakeholders, to celebrate and blow the trumpet of a pioneering 16th-century musician, who just by his very presence has forced us to rethink what it was like to be a Black Briton over 500 years ago and beyond.”

Michael Ohajura, National Director of the John Blanke Project, comments –

“This plaque dedicated to John Blanke marks him out in our history not just as the first Black Briton for whom we have both an image and a record but a sign of how diverse this island was and is, and how we celebrate our diversity today.”

Dr. Miranda Kaufmann, Author of Black Tudors. The Untold Story comments –

“It’s fantastic that the life of John Blanke, about whom scholars including Professor Imtiaz Habib, Dr. Onyeka Nubia, and myself, have discovered so much more over the last fifteen years, is being celebrated in this way, 510 years after John Blanke married in Greenwich in January 1512. I hope he will inspire the students who pass by the plaque every day.”

Image credit Stephen Berkley-White; L-R: Mark Thompson (poet and educator), Michael Ohajura (National Director of the John Blanke Project), Jane Sidell (Inspector of Ancient Monuments at Historic England), David Bahanovich (TL Assistant Director of Music), Jak Beula (CEO of Nubian Jak Community Trust)

Male student playing electric guitar

BandLab supports future hitmakers, songwriters and producers with Instrumental Gift

The social music platform has gifted five Harmony and Heritage guitars to our Music Performance and Industry Students

The first of its kind for a London conservatoire, our BA (Hons) Music Performance and Industry launched this academic year and provides diverse musical artists with a world-class place to be a Changemaker.

And now, students on the programme have access to further enhanced resources, thanks to BandLab’s gift of five Harmony and Heritage guitars.

The gift equips singer-songwriters and instrumentalists with the high-quality tools to match their ambitions, supporting them to be curious, experimental and collaborative in developing their own artistic identity.

Joe Townsend, Head of BA Music Performance and Industry, comments –

“Trinity Laban is a future-focussed and socially engaged destination for young artists in the heart of southeast London’s creative music scene. While studying with us, our talented students deserve the very best equipment so they can succeed in and shape the musical landscape.

“We’re thrilled that this donation creates the opportunity for our students to play on instruments of this quality, giving students from all backgrounds a voice through the expression of music. We are deeply grateful for this support and expression of confidence from BandLab Technlologies.”

With a mission to break down the technical, geographic and creative barriers between creators, collaborators and community, BandLab is a free and unlimited social music platform enabling creators to make music and share the process with musicians and fans.

Meng Ru Kuok, Group CEO of BandLab Technologies, comments –

“Like Trinity Laban, BandLab is committed to supporting the next generation of music makers and empowering music creation through technology. We are very excited about the BA Music Performance and Industry programme launch and hope our gift of Harmony and Heritage guitars offers extra inspiration for the programme in its inaugural year. Best of luck to these students — our future hitmakers, songwriters, producers and performers — as they take this next step in their creative journey.”

BA Music Performance and Industry student Maddie Goode explains how the instruments have provided a new chapter in her song writing –

“This is the first time properly playing electric guitar. I’ve always played acoustic and I like playing electric now because it’s a warmer tone, which really adds to some of my songs.”

Fellow student Taliesin is using this opportunity to better understand the mechanics of guitar improvisation better in order to improve his song writing and stage performance.

Find out more about popular music at Trinty Laban.

Sir George Benjamin and Philip Fowke in graduation robes holding honorary fellowship scrolls

Trinity Laban awards Honorary Fellowships to musical leaders

Composer Sir George Benjamin and pianist Philip Fowke receive the conservatoire’s highest honour

Foremost English composer and conductor Sir George Benjamin CBE, and pianist and Emeritus Fellow of Piano at Trinity Laban Philip Fowke, have both received Honorary Fellowships from Trinity Laban in recognition of their contributions to music.

From his first orchestral piece Ringed by the Flat Horizon, which featured in the BBC Proms when he was only twenty years old to his most recent works, Sir George Benjamin has consistently produced music of outstanding creativity and invention. Notable for his innovative use of percussion and attention to detail, in each of his scores sensuous, alchemical sounds are underpinned with rigorous architecture, never more so than in his series of operas including the ground-breaking Written on Skin.Premiered at the Royal Opera House in 2012, the opera has since been staged by over 20 international houses, winning multiple awards and enjoying in excess of 100 performances.

Recent awards include the 2015 Prince Pierre of Monaco composition prize (for Written on Skin) and the 2019 Golden Lion Award for lifetime achievement from the Venice Biennale.  As a conductor Benjamin regularly works with some of the world’s leading orchestras, and over the years has developed particularly close relationships with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Ensemble Modern as well as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He was awarded a C.B.E. in 2010, made a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2015, and was knighted in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

On receiving the award, Sir George Benjamin commented –

“To receive this award – within the spectacular setting of Trinity Laban – was both a huge pleasure and a great privilege.”

Alan Davey, Sir George Benjamin, Wozzy Brewster and Havilland Willshire, standing on steps outside King Charles Court in graduation robes

L-R: Havilland Willshire, Sir George Benjamin, Wozzy Brewster OBE, Alan Davey

Known for his many BBC Proms appearances, numerous recordings and broad range of repertoire, Philip Fowke is amongst Britain’s most outstanding pianists and distinguished musicians. His appearances with leading orchestras together with his many broadcasts and recordings have earned him international respect, admiration and the affection of audiences. Philip is a champion of less-known repertoire including British music by Scott, Bax, Delius, Bliss, Ireland, Hoddinott, Finzi and McCabe.

He has also enjoyed a distinguished teaching career beginning at the Royal Academy of Music where he was a professor from 1984 to 1989 and was awarded the F.R.A.M. After teaching at the Welsh College of Music and Drama he became Head of Keyboard at Trinity College of Music in 1994, and is currently Professor Emeritus at Trinity Laban. He is widely acclaimed for his imaginative teaching in which he explores students’ potential, encouraging them to develop their own individuality and to find ways of practising effectively and economically.

On receiving the award, Philip Fowke commented –

“I was delighted to be awarded a Trinity Laban Honorary Fellowship. As Havilland read out an outline of my career, I did wonder who he was referring to. It all seemed rather unreal, and I felt it was talking about someone else. The evidence of the photographs seems to prove otherwise, and the whole occasion was beautifully organised and presented.”

Philip Fowke standing in front of wrought iron gates and stonework in graduation hat and robe holding honorary fellowship scroll in both hands

Philip Fowke holds Honorary Fellowship scroll

This year’s Honorary Fellowships were presented by Trinity Laban Chair Alan Davey at our recent graduation ceremonies for 2020 and 2021 music students.

Also in attendance at the Old Royal Naval College Chapel, Greenwich were Dr Anthony Bowne (Trinity Laban Principal), Havilland Willshire (Trinity Laban Director of Music) and Sara Matthews (Trinity Laban Director of Dance), alongside guest speakers Rebecca Allen (President of EMI Records) and Wozzy Brewster OBE (Founder & Executive Director of The Midi Music Company).

Image credits: JK Photography

Launching TL’s Spring Season 2022

Encounter intriguing and inventive moments of music and dance in our live and digital events programme.

Running from January to March, our spring season celebrates new works and contemporary voices.

Highlights include two world premieres, the return of Melting Shifting Liquid World and new work from final year dance students.

Responding to the climate emergency, Trinity Laban’s String Ensemble presents A Change of Season at the National Maritime Museum (19 & 20 March). Witness a reimagined, choreographed performance of Vivaldi’s iconic masterpiece The Four Seasons performed alongside Hollie Harding’s immersive Melting, Shifting, Liquid World, for electric viola and string ensemble. Looking at the fragility of our modern world, the programme explores the seasons as they should be and contemplates what they may become.

Opening the season, Edward Jessen’s newly commissioned Syllable premieres at the Laban Theatre (14 & 15 Jan). The ambitious and experimental sonic work is no ordinary opera. Inspired by a range of works including Primo Levi’s 1975 collection of short stories The Periodic Table, audiences can expect a drama driven by sounds rather than conventional plot. The project, which is supported by the PRS Foundation’s Open Fund for Music Creators, is a collaboration with musicians, dance artists and composer-performer collective Bastard Assignments.

Also in January, Octandre Ensemble, Trinity Laban and Blackheath Halls present the world premiere of Each one cancels the last (Hector) by the composer-conductor Jack Sheen, featuring movement by dance-artist Eve Stainton (Tue 18 Jan 19.30). Operating along the blurred boundaries between long-form music and sculptural installation, it sees performers dispersed throughout Blackheath Halls, with visitors free to move throughout and settle within the piece as it unfolds.

Our final-year dancers present an exciting programme of new dance works at Laban Theatre in New Choreography Now: BA3 Choreography Mixed Bill (25 Jan) and create new Commissioned Works in with Fubunation, Lizzi Kew-Ross, Amanda Gough & Sonia Rafferty, Matthew Harding and Joel Brown (10 & 11 Feb).

Trinity Laban’s most prestigious prize returns to Kings Place (26 Jan). Witness seven outstanding young artists at the brink of promising careers demonstrate creativity, musicianship and diverse talent as they perform live for the Gold Medal. And enjoy more of this excellence in Trinity Laban Soloists’ Competition Final 2022 (7 Feb), where students perform concertos for the chance to play as a soloist with one of Trinity Laban’s full orchestras.

Enjoy a range of musical styles across this spring: Trinity Laban Strings students perform a programme of Janáček and Felix Mendelssohn Side by Side with the London Mozart Players, conducted by Simon Blendis (3 Feb); conductor Jonathan Tilbrook leads the Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra in a programme of Mayer, Matthis, Eleanor Alberga and Shostakovich (10 March, 19:30); and Trinity Laban Contemporary Music Group perform new works by emerging TL composers at the Asylum Peckham, conducted by Gregory Rose (25 Mar 18.00).

If jazz is more your thing, join us for a double bill of performances from the Trinity Laban Big Band, led by Winston Rollins, and The Trinity Laban Charlie Parker Project (19 Jan 19.30). The Trinity Laban Charlie Parker Project is a 13-piece ensemble that explores Parker’s music from a contemporary perspective. Hear new arrangements of his music tailor made for this line-up by Hans Koller, Head of Jazz – written during the lockdowns of 2020, the centenary year of Parker’s birth.

Founded in 2007, the Linos Piano Trio are known for their multifaceted and personal performances.
They have been the Carne Ensemble-in-Residence at Trinity Laban Conservatoire since 2017. They will lead a Lecture Workshop on Rebecca Clarke’s Piano Trio before presenting an evening concert programme of Boulanger, Ravel and Clarke (2 March).

At the end of March, our Chamber Music Festival returns (28-30 March) including the semi-final of the Carne Competition and Illuminate Women’s Music, a project curated with TL students.

Choirs from across Junior Trinity’s programmes return for the annual performance at the ORNC Chapel (12 Feb 17.30) and Four Part Choir, Big Band, Wind Orchestra and Symphony Orchestra return to Blackheath Halls for Junior Trinity’s Spring Concert (27 Mar 19.00).

Trinity Laban presents Stage & Screen: U.Dance 2022 London Regional Platform (13 Mar 19.00), an exciting showcase celebrating the variety and diversity of youth dance from across London. Groups perform a range of styles to secure a place at U.Dance 2022 in Glasgow, a national festival that brings together some of the most ambitious and innovative youth dance from across the country.

For full listings, ticketing info and booking visit our What’s On page.

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