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Alumni Roundup April 2018

Wed 2 May 2018

Our monthly roundup of some of the successes for Trinity Laban alumni.

In April Trinity Laban presented Go Cello!, the UK’s national festival for young players, in association with London Cello Society and the National Maritime Museum. Cellist, singer, songwriter, and alumnus, Ayanna Witter-Johnson guest starred at the Cutty Sark among a line-up of recent Trinity Laban student and graduate cellists (Christina Elisabeth CooperHelena ŠvigeljMelody LinOlivia ClaytonThibault Blanchard, and Urška Horvat) at an evening welcome concert for the festival.

This month it was announced that Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra ensemble BSO Resound, led by conductor James Rose and featuring percussionist and 2015 graduate Philip Howells, will be the first disability-led group to perform at the BBC Proms. Prom 59, on 27 August, will be aimed at children and adults with autism, sensory impairments and learning disabilities and will be signed throughout for those with hearing difficulties.

April also saw The Olivier Awards, and the award for “Best Family and Entertainment” was won by Qdos Entertainment’s production of Dick Whittington at the London Palladium, making it the first pantomime to receive the award. Piano graduate Gary Hind was part of the creative team as the show’s Musical Supervisor, Arranger & Orchestrator and wrote over half of the show’s music. Also at the Oliviers this year was alumnus Zoe Rogers who performed at the awards as part of a big number from hit West End show 42nd Street.

In April composer and 2014 music graduate Madelaine Jones was named a finalist in the Caritas International Emerging Composer Competition 2018 for her piece After Rain. Run by the Caritas Chamber Choir the competition aims to raise the profile of young choral music composers from the UK and abroad. The choir will perform each finalist’s piece at the final on 21st July in Canterbury.

Dance alumnus Leila McMillan was also nominated for an award: her work 3 fingers at arms Length, created during her time as Artist in Residence (AIR) at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts was nominated for “Outstanding Choreography” by Hong Kong Dance Alliance.

Jazz alumni enjoyed great success at this year’s Jazz FM Awards on 30 April: Nubya Garcia was named Breakthrough Act of the Year, and Ezra Collective was voted both UK Jazz Act of the Year and Live Experience of the Year. The five-piece ensemble features alumni Femi Koleoso (drums) and Joe Armon Jones.

Dinosaur – comprising jazz alumni Laura Jurd, Elliot Galvin, Corrie Dick and Conor Chaplin – were in session on BBC radio 3’s ‘J to Z’ this month. Award-winning trumpet player, composer and bandleader Laura Jurd also guested with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra at several Scottish venues in mid-April.

As Celtic Woman tour North America Mairead Carlin spoke to Lancaster Online about what it’s like being part of the group. Also interviewed this month was conductor and music alumnus Nicholas Jenkins, the new chorus master at Glyndebourne, who spoke to Classical Music ahead of his first official festival season.

Marina Collard and Andrea Buckley, both Independent Dance Artists, feature on the organisations website discussing careers, influences, and teaching, and dance alumnus Luca Silvestrini talked to Eastern Daily Press about acclaimed show Border Tales which his company Protein Dance is currently touring the UK.

London-based composition alumnus Soumik Datta, ‘a powerhouse of talent’, was interviewed in The Hindu on bonding across genres through classical music. The composer also featured in the Channel 4 and Sony BBC Earth’s series Tuning 2 U: The Lost Musicians of India’ where he travelled around India finding, interviewing and playing with rural musicians.

Vocalist Emilia Martensson chatted to London Jazz News about her upcoming projects and London Jazz News also spoke to leading British saxophonist, composer, educator and TL staff member Martin Speake ahead of his gig at the Vortex Jazz Club at the beginning of the month. To celebrate his 60th birthday, the alumnus launched his latest album Intention’ (2018 – Ubuntu Musi) at Pizza Express Live on 24-15 April.

Several other music alumni have also released albums this month: Lewis Wright celebrated his debut album Duet with a gig at PizzaExpress Live; composer Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour launched CD Persian Echoes; composition graduate Basil Athanasiadis released Soft Light; flautist Eimear McGeown has released her debut solo album Inis and spoke to the Irish News about how she mixes her love of Irish traditional flute playing and classical pieces.

Jazz guitarist Tom Misch released his funk-infused debut album, Geography, on April 6. NME gave it 4 stars, calling the album ‘an excellent first effort from one of south London’s brightest young talents’.

Jay Phelps received a four-star review from The Guardian for his gig at The Cockpit. Jay was joined by fellow alumnus Fergus Ireland on double bass.

During April several dance alumni premiered new work: Tania Soubry and Catherine Elsen presented Soul-scapes at TROIS C-L Centre de Création Chorégraphique Luxembourg alongside three other new works as part of the Emerging Choreographers’ programme vol 5. Elisabeth Schilling was one of five dance makers to share brand new works at Norden Farm Centre for Works through SCRATCH, a unique platform for emerging contemporary dance artists.

Alumni have enjoyed high-profile performances this month: Cherise Adams Burnett played Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club supporting Marcus Strickland; jazz alumnus Peter Edwards directed the Nu Civilisation Orchestra at the Queen Elizabeth Hall Southbank Centre, joined by fellow alumnus trombonist Rosie Turton; the Camilla George Quartet performed at the Southbank Centre on Fri 6 April as part of Women in Music; dance graduate Matthew Sandiford performed Fourteen Days with BalletBoyz at Sadler’s Wells.

Highly innovative pianist, curator, and alumnus Christina McMaster has been collaborating with King’s College London for Sound mInd, an arts and science research project that explores the use of music and psychedelic images as mood enhancers. The team have already conducted two immersive, lying-down concert combined with visual experiences, and plan to create a full virtual reality experience and commission a specific piece of music. They will also explore the applications of the concept for treatment of depression, moving from testing in general population samples, to testing in clinical samples.

The 28-29 April was World Dance for Parkinson’s Day, a global initiative organised by a collaboration between diverse organizations and individual teaching artists from 16 countries. One of the organisations partnering was Musical Moving, Dance for people with Parkinson’s. Co-founded by alumni Anna Gillespie and Marina Benini, the charity is currently celebrating their 10th year delivering specialised dance classes in London for people living with the disease. Delivering some of the classes is fellow alumni Joanne Duff.

In a similar way, alumnus Simone Sisterelli runs Popping for Parkinson’s in Wimbledon. The free, community hip-hop classes are aimed at helping people fight the symptoms of degenerative disease and regain control through popping and locking. Sisterelli was interviewed recently about the project by Red Bull Amaphiko.

Another alumnus working in therapeutic applications of dance practice is Emily Jenkins who launched Move Dance Feel in 2016 while researching the benefits of dance for women affected by cancer as part of an MA in Creative Practice at Trinity Laban. Earlier this year Emily received her first grant from Arts Council England and is expanding the programme, recruiting more dance artists and introducing Move Dance Feel to Maggie’s Barts at St Bartholomew’s Hospital (City of London) and Paul’s Cancer Support Centre in Battersea.

In vocal news, soprano Charli Baptie is now appearing in the UK tour of hit musical Wicked and is also understudy for the role of Glinda, while alumnus Nardus Williams made it to the final of this year’s prestigious Kathleen Ferrier Awards, performing with pianist Jâms Coleman.

Baritone Timothy Connor made his international debut this month in Lliam Paterson’s five star ‘opera for babies’ BambinO with Scottish Opera. Performing first at Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris and then The Metropolitan Opera in New York. Later this year he will play Dancairo in Carmen with Oper Wuppertal.

In April, artists for The Place’s Choreodrome 2018 were announced and it was wonderful to see so many alumni selected including Yukiko Masui, Darren Ellis Dance, Luke Bafico (Pierre & Baby), Simone Mousset, Eleanor Perry (Thick & Tight) and Elinor Lewis.

Also announced this month were the Déda Associate Artists 2018, which included internationally award-winning choreographer and dance alumnus Joss Arnott. He is one of five artists to benefit from the programme’s development support.

Recent dance graduate Beth Pattison has joined Motionhouse full-time, whilst dance alumnus Rosie Macari tours Australia with the company for 2018’s Commonwealth Games. Founded in 1988 by Kevin Finnan MBE and Trinity Laban alumnus Louise Richards, Motionhouse creates and internationally tours a variety of world-class dance-circus productions integrating athletic physicality, powerful narrative, imaginative sets, incredible digital imagery, and emotive sound scores.

Yukiko Masui has been announced as choreographer for a new production of Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music at Chester Storyhouse.


Don’t miss:

  • London Premiere of Jean Abreu Dance’s Solo for Two at the Purcell Room, Southbank Centre on the 23rd & 24th May, before UK tour May – August.
  • Cloud Gate Dance Theatre of Taiwan performing Formosa at Sadler’s Wells on 9 – 12 May. Alumnus Ching Chun Lee is Associate Artistic Director of the company.
  • Songhay Toldon  performing in The Troth as part of Alchemy Festival at the Southbank Centre on 5 May.
  • Tom Self performing in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert at Queens Theatre Hornchurch until 26 May.
  • ‘Breakin’ Convention’ at Sadler’s Wells 5 – 7 May. Celebrating 15 years of boundary-pushing music and dance collaboration the festival features jazz alumni in the Jazz Re:Freshed Sonic Orchestra (Ayanna Witter-Johnson, Jay Phelps, Sheila Maurice-Grey, Rosie Turton, and Nubya Garcia) and Dance Science alumnus Nefeli Tsiouti will give a workshop on Hip-hop Anatomy & Conditioning.