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Throughout the 2018/19 academic year, Trinity Laban has celebrated the music of women composers past and present in an unprecedented commitment tackling gender parity through our Venus Blazing initiative.

Drawing on centuries of interesting, challenging, and sometimes forgotten work, the commitment has ensured that female composers account for over half of the music programmed by Trinity Laban at its landmark Greenwich home and in venues across London in the academic year 2018/19.

This encompassed 60 concerts and opera performances given by the Conservatoire’s large-scale student performing groups in the various musical genres which form part of life at Trinity Laban; including classical music, opera, and jazz.

Among the performance highlights of the Venus Blazing initiative have been:

  • new productions of Thea Musgrave’s opera A Christmas Carol and Ana Sokolović’s Svadba

  • symphonies by Louise Farrenc and Grace Williams performed by the Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra

  • Henriette Renié’s Harp Concerto performed at Cadogan Hall by Noelia Cotuna – winner of the Trinity Laban Soloists’ Competition – and the Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra

  • Nell Benjamin, Laurence O'Keefe and Heather Hach’s Legally Blonde The Musical presented by final-year Musical Theatre students

  • a celebration of English song broadcast live on BBC Radio 3

  • an exploration of the music of Trinity Laban alumnus Avril Coleridge-Taylor

  • a festival of new piano music

  • music by current Trinity Laban composition students and staff, including Errollyn Wallen MBE, Soosan Lolavar, Laura Jurd and Deirdre Gribbin

The initiative had a particular focus on 20th and 21st century British composers, including Trinity Laban students, alumni and staff, and the title Venus Blazing is taken from the title of a violin concerto by composition professor Deirdre Gribbin, who also runs the Venus Blazing Charitable Trust.

Harriet Harman, Chair of Trinity Laban, says:

“Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance is strongly committed to diversity in all elements and it has a mission to constantly challenge the status quo. Venus Blazing is a great example of just how it can do this.”

Alongside its many diverse and dynamic performances, Trinity Laban has expanded its library resources to include new scores, books and recordings, which is inspiring students to discover works that they might not previously have been able to access.

Venus Blazing has been a major step in ensuring that Trinity Laban, as a modern conservatoire with a key role to play in shaping the next generation of music makers, addresses the historical gender imbalance in music, initiating a new way of experiencing and appreciating works written by both women and men.

Venus Blazing was spearheaded by two key members of Trinity Laban’s Faculty of Music: Dr Sophie Fuller, Programme Leader of Trinity Laban’s Masters programmes and acclaimed author of The Pandora Guide to Women Composers: Britain and the United States, alongside conductor Jonathan Tilbrook, Head of Orchestral Studies.

Dr Sophie Fuller, said:

“It is our duty to celebrate women’s music, not just for one year, but to provide the structures, support and encouragement to ensure that this is a lasting legacy for all future musicians and music lovers.”

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