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David Cohen with long hair and beard in white top, with arm raised holding bow, playing cello, looking down at fingerboard

Principal Cello Appointment for TL Strings Teacher

David Cohen will join London Symphony Orchestra from September 2022 

Trinity Laban cello and chamber music professor David Cohen has been appointed principal cello of the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO), alongside Rebecca Gilliver. 

The former principal cello of the Philharmonic Orchestra, Cohen is the artistic director of the Melchoir Ensemble and the founder and artistic director of the chamber music festival Les Sons Intensifs in Lessines, Belgium. 

Before he takes up his new role, Cohen will play for two concerts conducted by LSO principal conductor Sir Simon Rattle on 8 and 9 December 2021. 

On the appointment, Cohen comments –  

“I am hugely honoured to be joining the LSO. I feel beyond excited by the prospect of working with an orchestra with such a broad repertoire of work, unflagging energy and topflight musicians. I am also looking forward to continuing my commitment to working with young musicians at all stages of their development and throwing myself into this activity with the team at LSO Discovery.” 

Trinity Laban’s Head of Strings, Nic Pendlebury, comments –  

“David Cohen’s appointment with the LSO is incredibly well-deserved and testament to his skill as a performer.  

“He is one of many inspirational musicians who comprise our diverse teaching roster, including accomplished soloists, eminent chamber musicians, and leaders and principal players of our country’s major orchestras. It is their abilities as performers, and links with the industry, that mean our students benefit from a huge range of support and skills.” 

Discover more about our Strings department 

Two saxophone students playing side by side

Taking Jazz on Tour

Our students are mixing up their performance schedule to help lead change for the future of jazz.

Driven by a desire to “break down barriers” and “bring awareness”, bands from our celebrated Jazz Department are combining their regular gig schedule with touring local schools to connect with grass-roots musicians and inspire the next generation of music makers.

The interactive performances introduce pupils to instruments and music of jazz from 1930s jazz ‘Big Band’ to the present day. They also explore the building blocks of jazz, including improvisation, chord sequences and riffs.

Hans Koller, Trinity Laban’s Head of Jazz comments –

“The emphasis of Jazz on Tour is on performance. To inspire, to bring in our role models, to open ears, to show the quality of jazz and how it all started and still swings.”

After kicking things off at St Dunstan’s College in Lewisham, the Trinity Laban Fletcher Henderson Project is visiting Greenwich’s Middle Park Primary and Tower Hamlets’ William Davis Primary, as well as secondary schools John Roan School (Greenwich) and Pimlico Academy (Westminster). From January, Richard Henry’s Studio Band and the Trinity Laban Jazz Orchestra will take over the tour.

At secondary schools, aspiring musicians are given the opportunity to join the bands and play alongside conservatoire students, offering a taste of big band playing and full immersion in jazz performance.

St Dunstan’s students expressed how welcoming and engaging the session had been –

“I haven’t really improvised before, so it was interesting trying it out, especially in front of an audience. It was scary but fun.”

“It was really nerve-wracking cause everyone was really good, but everyone was really nice and really encouraging. So even if I did something wrong, which I did, I tried!”

Malcolm Earle-Smith, who leads the Trinity Laban Fletcher Henderson Project, explained –

“Every week the band gets great pleasure playing this wonderful music and we wanted to get out there and share it. There are all sorts of things you can learn about melody, harmony and form from earlier types of jazz; and, of course, the importance of rhythm, and how to make music ‘swing’. Being close to the blues, it also teaches us about personal expression. The element of improvisation gives you a chance to put your personal stamp on the music.

“Our undergraduate students have really benefitted from playing music from the 1930s and we want to show other young musicians they can too. This music has great vibrancy and energy. Once you start to understand it, it opens all kinds of doors.”

Other opportunities to see Trinity Laban Fletcher Henderson Project this year will be at the EFG London Jazz Festival (Sun 21 Nov) as part of The London Line-Up at The Clore Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall. Also on the bill is The Jazz Hang @ Trinity Laban with Tomorrow’s Warriors. Now in it’s second year, the programme is a partnership between the conservatoire and Tomorrow’s Warriors, offering a weekly get together for aspiring young musicians focusing on sparking creativity and harnessing a love of jazz.

Alongside visiting local schools, musicians from the Jazz Department have also been celebrating NHS heroes with a series of lunchtime concerts at St George’s hospital in Tooting. The performances form part of the hospital’s initiative to thank staff and show gratitude for their astonishing work over the past 18 months.

To find out more about Jazz at Trinity Laban.

Winter Season Highlights

Winter Events 2021-22

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

Running across November, December and January, our winter season includes an operatic world premiere and new work by Alumni Associate Artist Theo TJ Lowe.

Written by Edward Jessen and commissioned by Trinity Laban, Syllable – A Particle Tale will run for three performances at the Laban Theatre (14 & 15 Jan). With a sinfonietta-scale ensemble, auxiliary audio, and visual projection, this artistically ambitious and experimental sonic theatre 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 The Open Fund for Music Creators, will be a collaboration with musicians, dance artists and composer-performer collective Bastard Assignments.

Also premiering as part of our winter season is the next iteration of Theo TJ Lowe’s Let me move (15 Dec). The improvisation project originated in autumn 2020 as a way for recent graduates to physically engage with how they felt returning to a studio after periods of lockdown. The process resulted in an ephemeral piece of live dance streamed to audiences’ homes. Now Lowe returns to offer 2021 dance graduates an opportunity to continue creating, and to share the moment with a live audience, with Let me move: continued Part 2.

There are vocal delights later in the month as the Trinity Laban Undergraduate Chorus present an eclectic mix of protest music conducted by Sarah Latto (17 Nov). Expect everything from Tippett and Britten to ‘One Day More’ from Les Misérables and Aminita Francis‘ Black Lives Matter. And, to get into the festive spirit, join the Old Royal Naval College Trinity Laban Chapel Choir as they present Handel’s Messiah, conducted by Ralph Allwood MBE (5 Dec).

Musicians from the Trinity Laban community are heading to the Southbank Centre to perform as part of the EFG London Jazz Fest celebrations (21 Nov) including the freshest talent on London’s scene (The Jazz Hang with Tomorrow’s Warriors and Trinity Laban), our Fletcher Henderson Project and a host of alumni.

An evening with Trinity Laban Brass Ensemble (26 Nov) sees critically-acclaimed trumpeter, conductor and Trinity Laban alum Mike Lovatt lead a live rendition of the iconic 1958 Billy May album Big Fat Brass alongside Bizet’s Carmen Suite as you’ve never heard it before.

In December, our final-year Musical Theatre students present Merrily We Roll Along (7-11 Dec) at Laban Theatre. Boasting one of Stephen Sondheim’s most beautiful scores, the story follows the successful career of Broadway composer turned Hollywood producer Franklin as he realises the true cost of fame and fortune.

Conducted by Head of Strings Nic Pendlebury, Trinity Laban String Ensemble (10 Dec) are joined by violinist Joe Townsend and harpist Maria McNamee for a musical tour of the British Isles. The evening features work by Sally Beamish, Elgar and James MacMillan. The performance will be followed by a late lounge performance from BA Music Performance and Industry producers in the Hearn Recital Room.

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

TL Teaching and Supporting Learning Awards

Teaching and Supporting Learning Awards 2021

TL staff honoured in annual scheme recognising outstanding contribution

The Trinity Laban Teaching and Supporting Learning Awards scheme recognises staff members who have made an outstanding contribution to the conservatoire’s innovative and nurturing environment.

Each year our community is invited to nominate any colleague or team who has positively influenced student experience through an activity or initiative over the past three years. This includes innovative teaching, championing collaborative approaches and the enhancement of TL’s learning culture.

The 2021 recipients are:

  • Ann van Allen-Russell for developing online seminars and discussion groups to promote student engagement, using videos to aid students’ understanding of assessments and for progressing the decolonisation of the Music History curriculum.
  • Tessa Gillett for contributing to a culture of inclusion and diversity at the conservatoire through her leadership of its Black Lives Matter (BLM) campaign and contribution to the BLM working group, which enabled Trinity Laban to gather and respond to students’ concerns.
  • Richard Henry for leading contribution to the BLM working group and public action plans and playing a crucial role as Black Lives in Music relationship manager and Black Culture 365 producer.
  • James Hitchins for transforming the learning experience for students with additional needs and supporting teaching staff to design and adapt learning teaching and assessment to be accessible.
  • Richard Metcalfe for creating a safe environment for learning and teaching in the conservatoire’s buildings during the pandemic.
  • Gill Munro for supporting student engagement and wellbeing by providing excellent individual service to those booking space and other resources.
  • Lucy Nicholson for enhancing student progression into professional practice through the development of the Faculty of Music’s Voices from Industry Series, the Innovation Award, and both the GoDigiTL and TL Ignite micro grants.
  • Stephanie Schober for contribution to inclusion and diversity in learning and teaching through leadership of the ‘Asking Queerer Questions’ CoLab 2021 project.
  • Byron Wallen for community building in the Jazz dept during lockdown including contributing to a weekly listening club and using innovative approaches to the digital delivery of Jazz Music History.

The winners received their Awards at a celebratory outdoor event in September.

Congratulations to all the winners and nominees.

Leo Poulton headshot

Junior Trinity Staff Making Waves

Conductors Darren Bloom and Leo Geyer work with top UK music industry players

2021 has been a busy year for staff in our Junior Trinity Department as two composition tutors take big steps in their professional careers by collaborating with iconic British institutions.

Darren Bloom, Lead Tutor for Composition and Musicianship at Junior Trinity, has conducted the London Symphony Orchestra for Six Degrees of Separation. The newly released album showcases new work by emerging composers as part of the orchestra’s Panufnik Scheme.

Recorded live in concert earlier this year, the record has already received a five-star review from BBC Music Magazine, praising the “total assurance” of the orchestra who provide a “welcome introduction to a terrific new wave of composing talent”.

Darren co-directs Junior Trinity’s Composers Ensemble alongside Leo Geyer, who has been selected by the BBC Open Music Programme on the pathway to become a presenter for Radio 3 and the BBC Proms 2022.

With more than 1,000 applicants for 30 places, the programme brings together new creatives and musicians across a range of genres, styles and backgrounds from around the UK in the hope of developing contemporary collaborations and representative, exciting ideas.

Speaking to his alma mater Oxford University, Leo said –

“I’m not planning on hanging up my composing and conducting hats, but I am aspiring to add ‘broadcaster’ to my portfolio career.”

Previously a student at Junior Trinity, Leo returned to teach on TL’s junior programme in 2015. Alongside his teaching, he also conducts for the English National Opera.

Find out more about our Junior Programmes.

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.