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Celebrating the successes of our inspiring harp alumni

Congratulations to Trinity Laban alumni harpists Juan Antonio García Díaz and Noelia Cotuna on their recent orchestral successes.

Juan Antonio García Díaz, who graduated from Trinity Laban with a MMus and Artist Diploma, has recently been appointed as Principal Harpist of the celebrated Essener Philharmoniker, the main symphony and opera orchestra of the city of Essen. Founded in 1899, the orchestra enjoys an excellent international reputation with regular guest appearances at the Concertgebouw Amsterdam and the International Dvořák Festival under the baton of Principal Conductor Andrea Sanguineti. In addition to regular opera services at the Aalto Theater, the Essener Philharmoniker performs in more than 30 concerts per season: symphony concerts at the Philharmonie Essen as well as children’s and youth concerts and their own chamber concert series. The orchestra can also be seen and heard on tour: in the Semper Opera House at the Dresden Music Festival, at the Penderecki Festival in Zabrze and Krakow, at the Richard Strauss Festival in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and in the Frauenkirche in Dresden.

Reflecting on the appointment, Juan said: “The day I received the news of successfully passing my trial in the orchestra, I felt a very surreal feeling of relief and joy. I have dreamt of becoming a member of a professional orchestra since as long as I can remember. Now that I have accomplished it, I can only say thank you to all the people who helped me get to where I have arrived, especially to dearest Gabriella Dall’Olio and Frances Kelly, who helped me become the musician and harpist that I am today during my three years at Trinity Laban.”

Noelia Cotuna, who graduated from Trinity Laban with a first class BMus (Hons), has won the audition for post of Principal Harp at the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana – Palau de les Arts Valencia. While studying at Trinity Laban, Noelia won several solo competitions and the prestigious soloist Competition with Renié Concerto, and immediately after became a member of the Karajan Academy of the Berliner Philharmoniker (2019-2022). Noelia finished an MMus in Solo Performance at the Universität der Künste in Berlin in 2023 and she is currently at the Academy of the Deutsche Oper Berlin.

Noelia stated: “I am still in disbelief at the news, but I am so excited to join the Orquestra de la Comunitat Valenciana and to start my trial period in the coming months! I really look forward to playing alongside their many fantastic musicians and working with such a versatile ensemble that performs a wide range of opera, symphonic, zarzuela and ballet repertoire each season in the beautiful house of Palau de les Arts in Valencia. I am incredibly grateful to all my family, friends and teachers for their unwavering support, and in a special way to my wonderful Professor Gabriella Dall’Olio, Frances Kelly, Head of Strings Nic Pendlebury for all their help and guidance, and to all the generous donors that made my studies at Trinity Laban possible.”

Image credit: Daniel Delang (for Noelia’s photo), Björn Hickmann (for Juan’s photo)

A world premiere and cutting-edge compositions: TL Sinfonia Strings side-by-side with schools

Trinity Laban Sinfonia Strings joined forces with musicians from London schools in a programme featuring a commissioned world premiere and contemporary compositions by Gustav Holst, Gerald Finzi, and Karl Jenkins. Under the baton of Professor Nic Pendlebury, the schools performed side-by-side with TL Sinfonia Strings in the atmospheric setting of St Alfege Church, Greenwich.

TL Sinfonia Strings united with 40 young string players from Haberdashers Hatcham College, Thomas Tallis School, Eltham Hill School, and Harris Academy Peckham to perform in a beautiful concert – featuring an exciting world premiere and music from brilliant British composers.

TL Sinfonia Strings first performed Holst’s Brook Green Suite H. 190, written for a junior string orchestra at the school the composer taught at. Named after the area of Hammersmith in which Holst lived, the suite is based on folk-song melodies and conjures a warm pastoral atmosphere. Our string ensemble captured the lively character of the Prelude, the serenity of the Air, and the light-hearted energy of the Dance, making the piece a perfect start to the concert. Up next was Finzi’s Romance Op. 11, a one-movement piece that also evokes the beauty of the English countryside but is very poignant and elegiac in tone.

The schools then played in harmony with the Sinfonia Strings in a magnificent world premiere of Isolated Moments and Londinium, two works written by TL alum composer Nathen Durasamy and Leigh Academy Blackheath students. Created by singing melodies and tapping rhythms, the pieces centre on the experience of living in London. Both compositions evoke the intensity and bustle of the capital, but equally mark it as a city of contrast – dramatic, persistent string chords are punctuated by powerful silences.

Isolated Moments is a poignant musical exploration of solitude and introspection within the dynamic tapestry of London’s bustling life. Divided into two contrasting sections, the piece captures the solitary reflections of an individual in the city, juxtaposed against the vibrant energy and cultural richness that London offers.

Londinium is a musical journey to London. The work unfolds in four sections, each capturing a distinct phase of the experience: suspense and excitement, the rhythmic pulse of travel, anticipation and joyous moments of reconnecting with a friend in the heart of the city. The final section bursts with triumphant exuberance, celebrating the rich history and iconic landmarks that define the unique joy of being in London. Londinium invites the audience to share in the emotional journey of discovery, from anticipation to the heart of this extraordinary city.

Trinity Laban’s Side by Side Strings initiative marks one of many chances for local schools to experience and participate in live music through our Public Engagement programmes, advocating for increased accessibility in the creative arts. The project also presents an important opportunity for our musicians to unite with school string players and gain education skills, while spreading a love for collective musicianship.

“This project brings together over 50 young performers and composers from Lewisham, Greenwich and Southwark with conservatoire students. Music builds confidence, creativity and resilience and it’s important that all school students have access to these kinds of opportunities, says Kate Dornan, TL Projects Manager of Children & Young People’s Programmes (Music).

Wrapping up the concert was a spine-tingling rendition of Jenkins’ first and second movements of Palladio: Largo and Allegretto. Soloists Isaac Williams (Violin I) and Sophia Devenport-Jackson (Violin II) played exceptionally – with great sensitivity, precision, and musicality – allowing the main melody to shine through the orchestral accompaniment.

A huge thank you to all the students from the schools who participated in the concert as part of our Side by Side Strings initiative.