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November Alumni Roundup

Wed 2 December 2020

A roundup of November’s Trinity Laban alumni news and creative endeavours.

With the advent of a second lockdown, many of our alumni took their performances online this month.

Curating composer, researcher and performer Will Dutta collaborated with visual content designers Treatment Studios and motion graphics leaders VFX on Bloom – LiveStream, a digital performance that explored the unique connectivity of ‘live’. Listen to his new album.

More online work was debuted by alum Elliott deVivo, who in collaboration with playwright Sue Blundell created Silence and Joy – telling the story of Beethoven’s turbulent relationship with the black virtuoso violinist, George Bridgetower.

Piano alum Maria Marchant continued her Monday night series on Facebook, showcasing new music in her weekly live-streamed performances.

Ongoing restrictions led to alumni adapting their creative projects and educational ventures for digital outlets, exploiting online opportunities and delving into new ideas.

Dance alum Virginia Poli made movement classes accessible online, allowing dancers and non-dancers alike to stay active in lockdown.

The Actors Centre streamed the film Roller Coaster: An Adventure for Times like These, an adaptation of alum Julia Testas’ MFA Creative Practice submission, as part of their Latin American Season. Stream the film.

Dance Umbrella Digital, the virtual festival, brought worldwide dance figures together in a week of screenings, articles and talks. One such event was the ‘Choreographer’s Cut’, in which TL dance alum Oona Doherty discussed the process of creating Helium from her work Hard to Be Soft – A Belfast Prayer.

Alumni appeared on television and radio this month. Channel 4’s Sing it Loud: Black and Proud, hosted by Maya Jama and in celebration of Black History Month, featured alumni Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Reuben James, who performed covers of jazz legends and discussed their musical heroes.

BBC Radio 3 broadcast The Carducci Quartet’s renditions of Beethoven’s Serioso Quartet and Daniel Fardon’s new work, Elements of Disco as part of their Lunchtime Concert.

Later in the month, alumni Nubya Garcia, KOKOROKO ( led by Sheila Maurice-Grey and featuring Cassie Kinoshi) and Ezra Collective (including Femi Koleoso and Joe Armon-Jones) headlined BBC Four’s Jazz 625: The British Jazz Explosion, a special edition of the iconic 1960s show. Co-hosted by Moses Boyd it showcased a plethora of TL faces including Daniel Casimir, Artie Zaitz, Sam Jones, Renato Paris, Huw Bennett and honorary fellow Gary Crosby. Catch up.

Jazz achievements did not stop there. Ezra Collective’s trailblazing endeavours earnt them funding from Youth Music that will aid in their work mentoring young black women in behind-the-scenes music roles. Listen to their new track ‘Quest for Coin, featuring producer Swindle and long-time fan and grime artist, JME.

After the unveiling of his commemorative plaque as part of the Black Plaque Project, Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti was further recognised this month in the BBC2 documentary, Fela Kuti: Father of Afrobeat.

We were thrilled to congratulate many of our alumni on their successes in some of November’s awards ceremonies and shortlists.

Pianist and TL graduate Deschanel Gordon was named BBC Young Jazz Musician 2020, after the BBC4 broadcast saw him claim the esteemed award in the company of other TL names; judging panellist Nubya Garcia and fellow nominee and current student, Kielan Sheard.

Moses Boyd and Joe Armon-Jones appeared among the five shortlisted artists nominated for Best Jazz Act at the 2020 MOBO Awards, while Ayanna Witter-Johnson features on Anoushka Shankar’s ‘Love Letters’, an EP that was nominated for Best Global Music Album in the Grammy Awards this month.

The annual Ivors Composer Awards honours some of the best new work of contemporary composers in the UK. This year’s shortlist included TL alum and composition teacher Amir Konjani, professor of jazz saxophone and alum Mark Lockheart, and double bass virtuoso and teacher Calum Gourlay. Both Calum and Mark were nominated for Jazz Composition for Small Ensemble, while Amir was shortlisted in the Small Chamber Ensemble category.

Another TL alum acknowledged in industry shortlists this month was Sir Matthew Bourne. His contemporary reimagining of Shakespeare’s, Romeo and Juliet was nominated for a South Bank Sky Arts Award.

Dance alumni and staff were  also recognised in this year’s One Dance UK Awards. The Jane Attenborough Award was won by the inspiring educationalist Valerie Preston Dunlop, the Applied Dance Science Award by BSc Programme Leader Sonia Rafferty and the Dance Healthcare Practitioner Award was won by TL Lecturer in Dance, physiotherapist and alum Katy Chambers.

Congratulations were in order for Junior Trinity alum and former composition fellow Duncan Ward, who was appointed chief conductor of the philharmonie zuidnederland just months after his appointment by Festival d’Aix as Musical Director of The Mediterranean Youth Orchestra.

Dance alum Matthew Sandiford made a career move this month, as he joined National Dance Company Wales for the next season, while fellow alumni Mayowa Ogunnaike and Patrick Webster joined Rosie Kay Dance Company in the cast of Romeo + Juliet. Mayowa will dance the lead of Juliet, and Patrick will dance the character of Ben.

TL alumni appeared in media articles this month, presenting and discussing new work and receiving industry accolades.

Composer and TL alum Dai Fujikura spoke to The Japan Times about his new opera, A Dream of Armageddon.- An adaptation of the H.G Wells story of the same name, the opera  was premiered in Tokyo at the end of November.

In a Financial Times article about Jarvis Cocker’s new music, the famed frontman credited TL alum Serafina Steer with providing inspiration for the band’s sound and bringing his writing to life.

Read reviews of performances from many of our alumni at the EFG London Jazz Festival this month, after the annual celebration of jazz music went online.

Multi-instrumentalist Layla Allen released her book, So, You Want to Play the… Clarinet – Book 1, which went on to be featured in the ISM Journal. The book presents a unique and varied way to learn the fundamentals of clarinet, coupled with a YouTube channel providing instructional videos and accompaniments.

Dance alum Maresa von Stockert’s work was also published this month, when the international publication Fifty Contemporary Choreographers included her piece SEASAW and used an image from the work as the front page of the book.

December remains a particularly busy time for our alumni with the festive season underway.

TL alum Joshua Smith can be seen dancing in the music video for Jamie Callum’s latest single ‘Hang Your Lights’, choreographed by TL CAT alum Emma Farnell-Watson. Playing on the track are fellow alumni Loz Garratt (Bass) and Emma Bassett (Trombone).

The Musician Mums, a collective of performers all of whom are mothers and many of whom are TL alumni, are providing some much-needed festive cheer with the creation of their Musical Advent Calendar. With a different Christmas performance every day of December, this gift of music is an inventive way to enjoy musical festivities in a socially distanced manner.

Coming up:

Composition alum Amir Mahyar Tafreshipour premieres his opera, The Doll Behind the Curtain 8-13 December at the Royal Danish Opera House.

Catch Musical Theatre graduate Millie Cranston performing alongside West End icons in Spotlight on the Future LIVE!, a covid-secure drive-in concert on 6 December of musical theatre classics and pop hits.

Sir Matthew Bourne’s Olivier award-winning adaptation of the legendary 1948 film, The Red Shoes, will be broadcast as part of the BBC’s festive season.

Join The Puppini Sisters, founded by TL alum Marcella Puppini, as they bring their festive concert to our living rooms with their streamed show Christmas at Home on 12 December. Get tickets.

December will see the Limon Dance Company, led by Artistic Director and alum Dante Puleio, take up a four week residency in the Kaatsbaan Cultural Park, providing an online dance training program as well as a free virtual performance on 19 December.

TL alum John Savournin, the Charles Court Opera and King’s Head Theatre will stream their pantomime, Snow White in the Seven Months of Lockdown 14 – 31 December.