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Alumni Roundup March 2018

Tue 3 April 2018

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

March was Women’s History month, and saw several alumni highlighted and celebrated in the press. The Evening Standard ran a feature on leading female figures in the arts, which included alumnus and President of Decca Records Rebecca Allen, while Sound and Music showcased talented women in music on the British Music Collection, including composers Soosan Lolavar and Cassie Kinoshi.

As part of their new series Portrait of the Artist, BBC Radio 4 talked to Ayanna Witter-Johnson this March about her creative life and writing a new song.

Also interviewed by press this month was Meg Saunders, ahead of performing with Maresa von Stockert’s Tilted Productions in new work Constructions of Thin Air at The Place. Meg also led a dance workshop based on the production as part of the venue’s Easter events. She was interviewed for The Place’s blog and spoke about her training, her work as a teacher, and who has influenced her as a practitioner and dancer.

March was also awards season in Hollywood, and Trinity Laban music alumnus Amir Konjani had a brush with the Oscars – he composed the score for The Silent Child, winner of 2018’s Best Live Action Short Film at the 90th Academy Awards.

Also taking to the big-screen in March were TL vocal alumni Daisy Walford and Hilary Cronin, and current student Michael Lafferty Smith, who appeared in the Bristol Old Vic’s acclaimed 2017 production of Handel’s Messiah which was screened at cinemas across the country on 28March. Staged by Tony Award-winning director Tom Morris (War Horse) dramatised concert-performance was described as ‘astonishingly beautiful’ (The Stage), and ‘impactful’ (The Times).

The Oscars were not the only awards for our music alumni this March. Mezzo-soprano and 2018 Trinity Laban Gold medal finalist Emily Gray won Second Prize and the Audience Prize at The John Kerr Award for English Song. Gen Li won third prize at the 14th Hastings International Piano Concerto Competition, performing Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.3 in C major Op.26 with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and winning £3,000 and future performance opportunities.

There have also been awards for our dance alumni. The University of Oxford have announced Sir Matthew Bourne will be one of the recipients of their honorary degrees this year, which will be awarded at a ceremony in June.

Throughout March, several dance alumni performed at Sadler’s Wells: Elly Braund danced Mid Century Modern with the Richard Alston Dance Company; Megan Armishaw and Olivia Edginton performed with Candoco Dance Company in double bill Face In/Let’s Talk About Dis; Meritxell Pan Cabo, Adam Russell and Caroline Reece performed in the new production Rumpelstiltskin with balletLORENT (a company founded by artistic director and fellow dance alumnus Liv Lorent MBE); and Luka Owen performed with alumnus Louise Richards’ Motionhouse in Charge.

Also working with Motionhouse is BA Contemporary Dance graduate Beth Pattison, who secured a job as a dancer following her apprenticeship.

Other dance performances in March included D2D Dance Company, founded by alumnus Jane Judd, who were among the line-up of the ‘Dance Festival’ at The Bull Theatre on 10 March. Fellow alumni Joss Arnott’s Triple Bill has been touring the UK, and dancing in the new production are alumni Lisa Rowley and Madison Capel-Bird.

In March, several new appointments for music alumni were announced. Vocal alumnus Nardus Williams has been selected as a Houston Grand Opera’s Studio Artist 2018 -19 and is now represented by internationally-renowned classical music agency Intermusica. Violinists Beatriz Carbonell Granada and Adéla Ševčíková are among the 33 exceptional young musicians to embark on the Southbank Sinfonia’s renowned fellowship 2018, an artist development programme for recent graduate musicians.

In other exciting announcements, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra launched their 2018/19 season which will feature performances of new music, including a UK premiere by alumni and celebrated composer Dai Fujikura in March 2019.

Vocal alumnus John Savournin has received two great 5-star reviews this March with What’s On Stage praising his direction of Charles Court Opera’s The Mikado, and The Chronicle noting his ‘consistently hilarious’ performanceas Leporello in Opera North’s Don Giovanni. He continues to sing with the company and will play Sarastro in The Magic Flute for Opera North’s 40th anniversary season 2018/19.

Also well-reviewed in March was dance alumnus Tara D’Arquian who premiered the epilogue in her Quests triology at the Laban theatre. Created in collaboration with award-winning British poet Jemima Foxtrot and Icelandic designer Fridthjofur Thorsteinsson, Bad Faith merges dance, poetry and lighting design to depict a story of self-deception. The Observer’s Luke Jennings gave the production 4 stars and called the young Belgian choreographer ‘seriously impressive’.

Every March the SXSW festival takes place in Austin, Texas and this year jazz alumni Ezra collective, Nubya Garcia and Moses Boyd all performed at the iconic global music industry event.

This month Junior Fellowship alumnus George Jackson (Sir Charles Mackerras Junior Fellowship in Conducting 2015-17), got an unexpected early morning call from the LSO and ended up standing in for Francois-Xavier Roth for the beginning of the Panufnik Composers’ Workshop.

Musical Theatre alumni also shared exciting news this month. Recent graduate Lori McLare has announced she is joining Celebrity Constellation cruises as a vocalist, while Natalie Harman will be appearing in new musical Sleeping Beauty as Fairy Tulip at The Gordon Craig Theatre from 29 March following a UK Tour, and James Darch will be appearing in the UK premiere of An officer and a Gentleman the Musical playing the role of Troy.

Nazerene Williams, a fellow musical theatre alumnus, is currently playing Rosalind in Mary Stuart. The production is in its final week at The Duke of York’s Theatre and will be touring in Bath, Salford and Cambridge in April.

This month saxophonist, composer and jazz alumnus Phil Meadows has hit the road for a string of UK dates in the run up to recording his next studio album. His tour continues into April with gigs at Ronnie Scott’s, London (Late Show, 4 April) and The Storey, Lancaster (13 April).

Also touring the UK is baritone Felix Kemp who continues his run in the title role for OperaUpClose’s production of Eugene Onegin following performances at the Arcola Theatre, London, while alumni Emma Smith, Serafina Steer, Adam Betts and Andrew McKinney have been performing with Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker across the UK, and Reuben James performs with Sam Smith on his world tour.

Two alumni released records this month: Rory Simmons, trumpeter and jazz alumnus, released his new single Young One as Harlequiin, and Simone Sistarelli released Essentials.


Don’t miss:

  • Fearless Players’s new musical Armour: A Herstory of the Scottish Bard at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. The female led collective was created by alumnus Lydia Davidson.
  • Music alumni at the 74th Cheltenham Music Festival (30 June – 15 July 2018), including a world premiere by cellist, singer and composer Ayanna Witter-Johnson as well as counter-tenor Timothy Wayne-Wright performing with The King’s Singers. More info.
  • Jasmina Cibic’s site-specific installation This Machine Builds Nations at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead. The exhibition features Lea Anderson MBE’s filmed choreographic reconstruction of ‘The Miraculous Mandarin’, with dancers Harry Alexander, Ruben Brown, Anders Duckworth, Eleanor Perry and Josh Ben-Tovim.
  • Vocal alumnus John Savournin reprising his role in Opera North’s award winning production of Kiss Me, Kate this summer.
  • Dance alumnus Kirsty Tapp has been working on the revival of Phyllida Lloyd’s 2002 production of Verdi’s opera Macbeth at the Royal Opera House, with original choreography by Michael Keegan-Dolan, which opened 25 March and runs until 10 April.