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Carolina Cury Gold Medal

Carolina Cury wins Trinity Laban’s Digital Gold Medal 2021

The pianist and master’s student delighted with a programme of Bach to Björk

Each year, Trinity Laban’s prestigious Gold Medal competition showcases the diverse talent from across the conservatoire’s Faculty of Music.

Competing for the 2021 prize were Noelia Cotuna (harp), Hannah Crocker (soprano), Tara Cunningham (electric guitar), Carolina Cury (piano), Shaohui Hao (saxophone), Jan Margolius (composition) and May Tether (musical theatre).

Across three days, the seven students and recent alumni delighted digital audiences on TL platforms with creative and intimate pre-recorded performance films spanning classical and contemporary music, jazz and musical theatre.

To judge the competition, the conservatoire’s Director of Music Havilland Willshire was joined by Head of imagine at Intermusica Artists’ Management, Kate Caro, in a unique adjudication film where pianist Carolina Cury was announced as the 2021 winner.

Filmed at Megaron Athens Concert Hall, Carolina’s performance included ‘Prelude and Fugue in F# minor’ from J.S. Bach’s The Well-Tempered Clavier (Book 1), György Ligeti’s Étude No. 8 ‘Fèm’ and an improvisation on Björk ‘All is Full of Love’.

Explaining what made Carolina a worthy winner Kate Caro commented –

“Across the three pieces Carolina demonstrated what a versatile and confident artist she is; how much originality she has in her voice, in her musicianship. I was just blown away.”

Havilland Willshire added –

“I was intrigued by her playing, particularly the bravery to overthrow convention in her interpretation of Bach. Her personality came through strongly in everything she did.”

Carolina, who completed her master’s at Trinity Laban in 2020, is currently studying on the Artist Diploma.

She joins an illustrious list of recent Gold Medal winners, many of whom are already enjoying budding creative careers. These include 2019 winner Elena Abad, who played with the Parallax Orchestra on the album ‘Bring Me the Horizons’ which reached no.1 in the UK, and 2015 winner soprano Nardus Williams, who is currently performing as Anne Trulove in Stravinsky’s opera The Rake’s Progress with Glyndebourne Opera.

The annual Gold Medal Showcase celebrates outstanding young Trinity Laban musicians. Competitors are nominated by the Heads of each of Departments within Trinity Laban’s Faculty of Music for their exceptional musical flair and professionalism, and all receive a Trinity Laban Director’s Prize for Achievement in recognition of this.

Congratulations to all our finalists. You can watch all seven performances on TL YouTube.

To find out more about studying music at Trinity Laban, visit our study pages

Chamber Music Kickstarter Week 2021

Chamber Music Kickstarter Week 2021

Now in its second year, Trinity Laban’s week dedicated to Chamber Music runs from 1 – 5 November 2021 with a focus on chamber music coaching, rehearsing and performances.

Chamber music is the backbone of conservatoire teaching and learning, and the week kickstarts a whole range of projects and sets up ensembles who will continue to work together, collaborate and develop over the course of the year.  In keeping with Trinity Laban style, the week is a chance for students to work in creative and collaborative ways, and to make connections with staff and peers to enable artistic development.

The Carne Trust Guest Visiting Artists The Piatti Quartet will give a masterclass with students and a public performance on Weds 3 Nov, and on Thurs 4 Nov two concerts at Blackheath Halls will showcase Side by Side performances developed during the week.

Free performance highlights of the week include:

Tues 2 Nov 13.00

Chamber Week Lunchtime Concert: Lindsey Eastham leads Percussion Ensembles at the Old Royal Naval College

Weds 3 Nov 13.00

Open Rehearsal for Schutz Weihnachtshistorie at the Queen’s House, Royal Museums Greenwich

Weds 3 Nov 18.00

Carne Trust Guest Visiting Artists: The Piatti Quartet

The Piatti Quartet are one of the most distinguished quartets of their generation. Prizewinners at the 2015 Wigmore Hall International String Quartet Competition, they have performed in major venues and festivals around the UK and internationally. The Quartet will work with Trinity Laban students in a masterclass in the afternoon, followed by a public concert in the Peacock Room at King Charles Court.

Thur 4 Nov 13.05

Chamber Week Lunchtime Concert: Trombone Choir with Graham Lee at St Alfege

Thur 4 Nov 17.00 & 19.00

Chamber Side by Side Performances at Blackheath Halls

A chance to hear Side By Side projects from the week in two concerts, featuring Head of Strings Professor Nic Pendlebury, Ofer Falk, Michael Bochmann, Rivka Golani, Leon Bosch and Gabriella Dall’Olio

Fri 5 Nov 13.00

Chamber Week Lunchtime Concert: Chamber Side by Side at Old Royal Naval College Chapel 



h5 gallery 2

John Ashton Thomas

Trinity Laban and Manners McDade announce with great sadness the news that our dear friend, colleague and Trinity Laban alum John Ashton Thomas died on Monday 4 October. John had been on the teaching staff for Trinity Laban since 1992 and was the longest serving member of the Composition Department.

Having orchestrated over 150 films, it is no exaggeration to say that he was one of Hollywood’s top orchestrators, working on films from the Marvel, Bourne, Hunger Games, Ice Age and Star Wars franchises to name but a few, and for many years, those lucky enough to attend the Oscars would hear John’s orchestrations as part of the ceremony. His commercial composition was equally extensive, writing a vast collection of library music and producing themes for numerous programmes and series.

A true polymath, John was also a fine jazz pianist and was equally adept in writing jazz and orchestral music. His concert works have been widely performed including Iona Elegy: The Four Roads for the BBC Concert Orchestra at the 2018 Proms. Originally a chorister himself, his Nunc Dimittis is one of many works in which he combined his mastery of jazz, classical and choral techniques and was recorded by Mark Lockheart and the boys of Temple Church Choir.

His teaching experience was extensive: in addition to his work at TL he taught in the Jazz Department of the RAM for 10 years. He was awarded an honorary ARAM in 2004 and an Honorary Fellowship at Trinity Laban in 2019 alongside film composer John Powell with Paul Mounsey, Gavin Greenaway and Emlyn Singleton, all five having studied together at Trinity College of Music in the 1980s.

He is irreplaceable and will be missed terribly by us all.

Nneka Cummins

TL composer wins Liverpool Philharmonic’s Rushworth Composition Prize 2021

Master’s student Nneka Cummins commissioned to develop new work as part of emerging talent award

Composer and music producer Nneka Cummins is the 2021 recipient of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s annual Rushworth Composition Prize.

As the winner, Nneka will have a unique opportunity to develop their talent over the course of the next year through a programme of workshops, masterclasses and mentoring sessions from a variety of leading industry figures.

The award will culminate in Nneka writing a new work for performance by Ensemble 10/10, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra’s new music group, which will be premiered in Autumn 2022.

In addition, they will receive £1,000, made possible through the support of the Rushworth Foundation, a year’s complimentary membership of the Ivors Academy, the UK’s leading professional association for music creators, and additional opportunities to produce new works and commissions for Liverpool Philharmonic and its associated ensembles.

Previous winners of the Rushworth Composition Prize include Carmel Smickersgill, who was nominated for the Ivors Academy Rising Star Award in 2020, and Grace-Evangeline Mason, who premiered new orchestral work ‘The Imagined Forest’ at this year’s BBC Proms, co-commissioned with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

A former full-time solicitor, Nneka is currently completing their Master’s in Composition at Trinity Laban, where they have been awarded the Gareth Neame Scholarship and the Trinity College London Scholarship.

Earlier this year Nneka’s piece Blend was performed by an ensemble from Chineke! in the Cheltenham Music Festival 2021 and they will have new a work premiered by Trinity Laban Symphonic Winds at Blackheath Halls on Friday 15 October. Find out more about the programme and book tickets.

On winning the prize Nneka commented –

“Liverpool is where my passion for music was nurtured and as a teenager, I played in venues across the city as part of Saturday Morning Music Centre’s Liverpool Youth Orchestra. I’m grateful to Liverpool Philharmonic for this opportunity and very much look forward to working with Ensemble 10/10. It’s great to be deepening my musical connection to Liverpool.”

Find out more about composition at Trinity Laban.

Hilary, Felix and Beth headshots

TL Alumni Soar in Handel Competition

Three vocal graduates are through to the final of major international singing event 

Launched in 2002, the annual International Handel Singing Competition is an established fixture in the musical calendar, drawing competitors from all over the world. Past finalists have included countertenor Iestyn Davies MBE and soprano Lucy Crowewho have both excelled in the opera world. 

This year, Trinity Laban vocal alumni Hilary CroninBethany Horak-Hallett and Felix Kemp have been chosen from over 150 applicants to compete for the coveted first prize of £5000. 

Since completing her Postgraduate Diploma in 2015, experienced ensemble singer and sought-after soprano soloist Hilary has performed with English Touring Opera, Nevil Holt Opera and Grimebourne.  

A year after graduating, mezzo Bethany made her debut at Glyndebourne Festival Opera in 2019. She is currently an Orchestra Age of Enlightenment Rising Star and is set to tour with Holland Baroque as a featured soloist. 

Praised by the Guardian for his “appealing baritone,” Felix completed his masters at Trinity Laban in 2015 before becoming a Britten-Pears Young Artist and working with Grange Festival Opera and Aldeburgh Festival.  

The finalists will perform their final programmes at St George’s, Hanover Square on Wednesday 20 October with the London Handel Orchestra, led by renowned British conductor and harpsichordist Laurence Cummings. 

The winner of the 2021 International Handel Singing Competition will enjoy several performance opportunities in the UK and abroad, including a prestigious recital with the City Music Society and featuring as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah with Huddersfield Choral Society under the direction of Jane Glover. 

As finalists, Hilary, Bethan and Felix will also each have the chance to give individual recitals in the upcoming London Handel Festival 2021. 

Learn more about our vocal department. 

Images illustrative of the autumn season of performances at Trinity Laban

Autumn Events 2021

Encounter intriguing and inventive moments of music and dance in our three-month programme of live events championing new creations.

Running across September, October and November, our autumn season includes film and music festivals, concerts and gigs, as well as more from our Black Culture 365 series.

Celebrating the experimental integration of movement, choreography and the moving image on screen, the biennial London International Screen Dance Festival returns to Laban Theatre to open the season (Wed 22 – Fri 23 Sept). The dynamic event will showcase 26 films from across five continents, including four World Premieres from the USA, South Korea and the UK and 11 UK premieres.

Highlights include: Douglas Rosenberg’s Song of Songs, a “deeply personal evocation” of the poetry series from the Old Testament; John Degois’ “life-affirming” one-take short film Birds; and Hadi Moussally’s Bellydance Vogue, an eclectic mix of childhood VHS footage and solo lockdown birthday celebrations.

In collaboration with Screen Dance International, Detroit, the 2021 Festival will also present Second Warning In memory of Marcus White (May 17, 1988 – May 14, 2020). Marcus created the film for the 2017 Moving 24 fps, a week-long festival in Detroit for dance-makers and filmmakers that he co-founded and directed with Carlos Funn.

Alongside the screenings, there will also additional Q&A events and talks, and the announcement of the Festival Award for Best Film.

In October, audiences can journey to new sonic worlds and join a community of experimenters at the Rude Health Composition Festival (Mon 25 – Wed 27 Oct).

Orchestral highlights from the Great Hall at Blackheath include Side by Side with Aurora Orchestra (Thu 7 Oct 18:00), which brings together student talent with professional mentors to perform Schumann’s Symphony no 1 op 38 ‘Spring’, Symphonic Winds & Sinfonia Strings (Fri 15 Oct 19:30), showcasing a new work by Nneka Cummins alongside pieces by Debussy and Grainger, and Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra (Thu 28 Oct 19:30), featuring 2019 Soloists’ Competition winner, cellist Talia Erdal.

Celebrating creativity from across the Black diaspora, our Black Culture 365 series continues this autumn with a star-studded Mixed Bill (Fri 29 Oct 18:00) and a student-led Lunchtime Concert (Thu 25 Nov 13:00).

Our first cohort of popular music students will get the chance to shine in Life is a Song Worth Singing (Fri 5 Nov 19.30), a night of song writing talent presented in the intimate surroundings of the Hearn Recital Room.

Rounding off the season, Trinity Laban Brass Ensemble presents Big Fat Brass (Fri 26 Nov 19:30). The evening sees critically-acclaimed trumpeter, conductor and Trinity Laban alum Mike Lovatt lead the band in a live rendition of the iconic 1958 Billy May album, alongside Bizet’s Carmen Suite as you’ve never heard it before.

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

Calum Huggan playing marimba with four mallets

Percussion Tutor’s ‘Landmark’ Debut Album

Calum Huggan is set to release ‘American Music for Marimba’ at the end of August on the Delphian label.

Well-known as a leading exponent of new music, award-winning Scottish percussionist Calum Huggan has captivated audiences and critics alike with his musicality and personality.

Through a programme of contemporary repertoire by living composers, his first solo album showcases his affinity with the marimba and explores its full spectrum of expressive colours.

American Music for Marimba includes two premiere recordings of works by Michael Burritt and Ivan Trevino, alongside modern classics including Eric Ewazen’s Northern Lights and Emmanuel Séjourné’s Nancy.

On the upcoming release, Calum comments –

“With this album it has been most important to me share music that makes percussion and marimba as accessible and engaging to an audience as possible. Performing music by living composers, who write with strong and relatable narratives, plays a significant part in my repertoire choices and influences my musical storytelling through the instrument.”

Calum is a Four Mallet Specialist at Trinity Laban Conservatoire. He also holds teaching positions at the Royal College of Music and the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Taught by international marimbists Jasmin Kolberg and Eric Sammut, Calum won his first BBC solo broadcast at the age of 18. He has gone on to perform solo and concerto debuts within the major concert houses across the UK, Europe and in the United Arab Emirates. He has also worked alongside some of the most recognised and talented creatives in the arts, co-creating, recording and performing in spectacular spaces across the globe.

A Yamaha Artist and Acoustic Percussion Signature Artist, Calum’s mission is to make percussion as accessible as possible, be a voice for LGBTQ+ musicians and introduce audiences to the truly fascinating and magical world that is percussion.

American Music for Marimba will be available on Delphian from 27 August 2021.

To learn more about the Wind, Brass and Percussion Department, visit our study pages.


Alumni Among Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2021 Winners

Female jazz stars took centre stage at the 16th annual awards.

This year’s Parliamentary Jazz Awards celebrated the increasing number of high-profile women involved in the UK’s jazz scene. These include TL alumni trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey and saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi of KOKOROKO (pictured), who won Jazz Ensemble of the Year, and saxophonist Nubya Garcia, who won Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year.

Also honoured was singer and TL Honorary Fellow Norma Winstone MBE who was presented with the prestigious Services to Jazz Award.

Organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG), the annual awards were announced on Monday 26 July at a virtual ceremony supported by PizzaExpress Live.

Chi Onwurah MP, Deputy Chair of APPJAG, commented –

“This has been another really strong year for the Parliamentary Jazz Awards in terms of talent and nominations. The well-deserved recipients are a veritable who’s who of names that have made a real impact on the music and helped make the UK one of the world’s leading jazz territories”.

Find out more about Jazz at Trinity Laban.

TLIA 2021 Winners group

Announcing our TL Innovation Award Winners 2021

The unique award sees final-year students pitch artistic and business projects to an expert panel and win professional development support and seed funding.

Launched in 2019 the Innovation Award forms part of the conservatoire’s strategy to help emerging artists develop their voice and innovate in the cultural industries, particularly important as they continue to navigate the ongoing challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Earlier this year shortlisted applicants pitched their proposals to Nikki Tomlinson, Co-director at Independent Dance, Roger Wilson, Co-founder of Black Lives in Music and former Head of Professional Development at National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and Trinity Laban Principal Anthony Bowne in a bid to win one of six awards.

We are pleased to announce that the 2021 winners are:

  • Myra BrownbridgeBrilliant Corners
  • Laudine DardAlone, Together
  • Emily EdwardsMusical Theatre Masterclasses
  • Anna NichollsDeveloping Dance with HAC
  • Back on The Map Project (Emma Greene and Sunniva Rørvik) – The History of Dance of the African diaspora: A Festival for the young people of Deptford
  • Tough Boys Disco (Sula Castle, Roseann Dendy and Daisy Hingorani-Short) – Open Dancefloor

The diverse and innovative proposals span cultural history, boundary-pushing genre development, and the power of the arts for positive change in the community.

Anthony Bowne comments –

“The panel and I were incredibly impressed by the creativity, ambition and scope shown by applicants across dance, music and musical theatre this year.

“The Innovation Award is one of the many ways in which Trinity Laban are nurturing entrepreneurial and project management skills in early career artists and strengthening our connections with the wider industry.”

Roger Wilson comments –

“This is an important platform for Trinity Laban students to push the envelope and grow as creators.  These are tomorrow’s professionals, encouraged to create and realise their ideas with a significant level of support. The impressive scope of creative and innovative ideas assured me that we can look forward to seeing great things from Trinity Laban students.”

Funded by our Higher Education Innovation Fund allocation, each winning project receives an award of £3,000 to use on development and will benefit from a specially tailored 10-month mentorship programme delivered by acclaimed alumni:

  • Japanese inclusive dance artist, performer, choreographer and dance movement psychotherapist, Takeshi Matsumoto(Transitions 2007)
  • London-based Polish/German interdisciplinary artist, performer, creative producer, activist, and a Purple Lady Dagmara Bilon (BA 2003)
  • Independent Arts and Events Manager and co-founder of Black Artists in Dance Joyce Gyimah (BA 2002)
  • Multi-award-winning saxophonist, conductor and arranger Phil Meadows (BMus jazz sax 2012)
  • Primary School teacher Annabel Langley (BA MT 2012)
  • Experimental composer, artist and performer Caitlin Rowley (MMus composition 2013 / MFA Creative Practice 2014)

Innovation Award Co-founder Lucy Nicholson comments –

“Trinity Laban alumni have hugely successful careers across the creative arts industry and over the past two years have given awardees valuable guidance and support as mentors. We are looking forward to welcoming back six more talented alumni to share their expertise with the 2021 winners. It is important for us to continue to strengthen the connections within our creative community to support the future of the performing arts ecology.”

Since its inception, the Innovation Award has already supported twelve forward-thinking and socially engaged projects conceived by winners who have achieved remarkable things, contributing to the UK’s rich cultural landscape. These include:

  • Composer, musician and artist James Layton who founded Into the Ocean, a London-based recording and concert series showcasing experimental new music including an album of works for solo viola in collaboration with Stephen Upshaw.
  • Multicultural all-female dance collective Mass Hysteria who have created work for Tate Modern, The Place’s Resolution Festival 2020 and V&A’s Friday Late series.
  • Producing Artistic Director Hayley Huggett, who set up Tilley Peacock Productions, creating shows and workshops for children with Special Educational Needs and Disability.

Dance artist and choreographer Hannah Wallace used her 2021 award to create Groundmarks, a site-specific work supported by London Wildlife Trust exploring the experience of the moving, sensing body within a constantly evolving landscape. She comments –

“The TL Innovation Award was an incredible opportunity to receive at this early stage of my career – it gave me the freedom to take creative risks and supported me to gain valuable experience as an artist and a leader.”

Innovation Award Co-founder Joe Townsend comments –

“The award gives graduates more than just money to realise a project, the mentoring is a two-way learning relationship that provides a safe space for mentors and graduates to bring ideas into action and to help shape the bigger picture of music and dance.”

To find out more, visit our Innovation Award webpage.

If you’re interested in studying at Trinity Laban visit our study pages.

Nubya Garcia in profile holding saxophone

Nominations announced for 2021 Parliamentary Jazz Awards

TL staff and alumni dominate this year’s shortlist honouring best of British jazz.

Now in their 16th year, the Parliamentary Jazz Awards champion the vibrancy, diversity, talent and breadth of the UK’s jazz scene.

Trinity Laban staff, alumni and Honorary Fellows have been shortlisted across eight categories, representing the broad cross-section of incredible educators and musicians in our creative community united in their passion and knowledge of jazz.

They are:

  • Kansas Smitty’s, where jazz drummer and alum Will Cleasby features in the hackney venue’s house band (Jazz Venue of the Year)
  • Jazz vocal tutor Brigitte Beraha (Jazz Vocalist of the Year)
  • Jazz saxophonist and alum Nubya Garcia (Jazz Album of the Year for Source, Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year)
  • Jazz pianist, alum and tutor Deschanel Gordon (Jazz Newcomer of the Year)
  • Jazz saxophone tutor Tony Kofi (Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year)
  • Kokoroko led by trumpeter and alum Sheila Maurice Grey and including composition alum Cassie Kinoshi (Jazz Ensemble of the Year)
  • Pianist and jazz ensemble tutor Liam Noble (Lockdown Innovation Award for Saturday Lockdown Live Sessions)
  • Musician and alum Steve Rubie has run 606 Club since 1976 (Jazz Venue of the Year, Service to Jazz)
  • Jazz trumpet and composition tutor Byron Wallen (Jazz Album of the Year for Portrait: Reflections on Belonging)
  • Singer and Honorary Fellow Norma Winstone (Service to Jazz Award)

The awards are organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG), with the support of PizzaExpress Live.

John Spellar MP, Co-Chair of APPJAG comments –

“These awards are a great opportunity to celebrate the talents and energies of the great musicians, educators, promoters, record labels, jazz organisations, blogs, jazz magazines and journalists who kept jazz flourishing, in spite of the challenges they faced in 2020.  In a year of hardship, unparalleled in the last 76 years, these shortlists demonstrate the wealth of talent and commitment that exists in the British jazz scene.”

Winners of the 2021 Parliamentary Jazz Awards will be chosen by judging members of the APPJAG and announced online on Monday 26 July 2021.

Find out more about Jazz at Trinity Laban.

Nardus Williams headshot

Nardus Williams returns to Glyndebourne

The TL alum and soprano will join the cast of The Rake’s Progress this autumn.

Stravinsky and W.H Auden’s opera is set to return for the first time in a decade, with Nardus in the role of Tom Rakewell’s betrothed, Anne Trulove. Directed by John Cox, it will be performed first at Glyndebourne before touring to Canterbury, Milton Keynes, Norwich and Liverpool.

The first singer to win Trinity Laban’s Gold Medal competition, Nardus Williams graduated with a BMus (Hons) Voice in 2014. She has since accumulated numerous opera credits, including Countess Le Nozze di Figaro for Opera Holland Park, Mimi La Boheme for English National Opera’s Drive & Live series, Ciboulette In the Market for Love for the Glyndebourne Tour, and the world premiere of Belinda Dido’s Ghost, a co-commission with the Dunedin Consort, Mahogany Opera & The Barbican.

The Rake’s Progress will be at Glyndebourne 23, 27, 30 October 2021.

Discover more about Vocal Studies at Trinity Laban.