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Preludes to New Lights Festival 2021

Wed 1 July 2020

TL presents a digital festival of contemporary piano and keyboard music performed and recorded in lockdown.

Watch the festival on our YouTube channel

Building on the success of the New Lights Festival 2019, students, staff and alumni are taking the Festival online this summer with a diverse range of composed and improvised contemporary music performed and recorded in homes across the world.

Curated by Douglas Finch, the Festival has earned a reputation for showcasing music of the avant-garde in all its multifarious incarnations.

Offering tasters of what’s to come when the Festival returns to its full live format in 2021, expect seven days of exciting preludes, previews and postludes.

Highlights include:

  • the world premiere of Fifth Political Agenda, a new piece by Michael Finnissy written especially for Trinity Laban postgraduate piano student Annie Li.
  • a excerpt of Sonatina Nostalgica by Stephen Hough, written for and performed by Philip Fowke.
  • a film by TL Fulbright Scholar Garrett Snedeker delving into the historical origins of the 1930 Kentucky coal mine strikes and contemporary parallels in the coronavirus pandemic in the US, with his performance of Frederic Rzewski’s Which Side Are You On?
  • Birds of a Feather, a new sonic work by Heloïse Tunstall-Behrens recorded as a collaborative group performance on Zoom.
  • a multi-media performance of Norbert Zehm’s Prelude in Turquoise by Maya-Leigh Rosenwasser, improvising alongside Norbert’s live action painting and dancer Marie Stockhausen.
  • a performance of Soosan Lolavar’s Black Dog by Trinity Laban alum Mahsa Salali

The festival also features opera transcriptions by Canadian composer Rodney Sharman for solo piano performed by Trinity Laban Gold Medal 2020 nominee Christos Fountos; a performance of excerpts from Yuka Takechi’s Winter Light performed by Yukiko Shinohara; works by Ed Cooper and Mikey Parsons; and improvisations inspired by a wide range of sources, from the landscape and nature of Sydney at Dawn, to reflections on the Black Lives Matter movement.

Head of Keyboard and Piano Sergio De Simone comments –

“We’re very excited to present this digital festival, which offers an exciting glimpse into the possibilities of 2021. It is testament to the talent and resourcefulness of our keyboard department that we can continue to provide opportunities for performers, creators and audiences to encounter new music in innovative ways.”

Films will be premiered on Trinity Laban’s YouTube channel from Mon 6 to Sun 12 July 2020 and released each day at 17.00.

For full event listings see below.

Image Mahsa Salali performing at New Lights 2019 (credit: JK Photography)

Artistic director: Douglas Finch

Curators: Roxanna Albayati, Maya-Leigh Rosenwasser and Andy Trewen

Video editing: Howard Felton

Full Programme

Day 1: Monday 6 July 2020

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(1) Frederic Rzewski Which Side Are You On?
Film by Garrett Snedeker
Garrett Snedeker, piano
Garrett Snedeker delves into the historical origins of the 1930 Kentucky coal mine strikes, inspiring Florence Reece’s protest song Which side are you on? Rzewski arranged this song as part of his North American Ballads. Rzewski calls upon the pianist to improvise during an extensive section of the piece, over which Garrett superimposes excerpts from his own interviews with workers amidst the Coronavirus pandemic in his hometown in Washington State.

Frederic Rzewski at 80: Directions Inevitable or Otherwise by Michael Schell

(2) Preludes Part 1
Creative reflections in isolation.
Alluding to the improvisational tradition of ‘preluding’ in the 18th and 19th Centuries and beyond. Thoughts that come before…

James Hurst
Two Preludes

Amy Wood

Elle Lumb, piano
Daniella Abou Nassar, painting

Maya-Leigh Rosenwasser

(3) Soosan Lolavar Black Dog
Mahsa Salali, piano
Lolavar discusses her early piece with Salali, exploring how performers can approach ‘open’ works that call upon them to improvise.

“Black Dog is based on the experience of depression and its effects on creativity. There is a long history of using the term black dog to refer to depression and my starting point for this work was a painting by Francisco de Goya entitled ‘The Dog’. This work was painted on the walls of his house sometime between 1819 and 1823 while he was suffering from severe depression. The works created during this period are often collectively referred to as his black paintings.” – Soosan Lolavar


Day 2: Tuesday 7 July 2020

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(4) Mikey Parsons Curiosity Killed your Bubble
Marisa Muñoz López, piano
Elena Riu, director
Close but feather flock together,
A bee and a hard place,
They hatch down,
Donʼt count your chickens before to earth as pie the wrong tree,
Curiosity killed your bubble,
Fool me once shame flea,
No cigar and a hat back to the mouth,
Barking up the China shop never forgets a chip,
Greased birds,
Of feather,
Of cake,
Fool me once shame market meʼnuts an Elephant,
On you flea,
Never forgets.
-Mikey Parsons

(5) Preludes Part 2

Creative reflections in isolation.
Alluding to the improvisational tradition of ‘preluding’ in the 18th and 19th Centuries and beyond. Thoughts that come before…

Ella Ingram
Prelude (Improvisation)
…the boy who lived
[text from Harry Potter – The Philosopher’s Stone
by J.K.Rowling]

Dominic Bentham
…good mourning

Felicity Lewis
…wood pigeon

Marisa Muñoz López
Watching the Rain
Marisa Muñoz López, piano

“I was inspired to write this piece after attending David Lefebvre Sell’s meditation sessions. In this piece I wanted to explore the different sensations one may undergo whilst watching the rain, indoors or outdoors.” – Marisa Muñoz López

(6) Stephen Hough Sonatina Nostalgica, Sonata No 3 (Trinitas)
Philip Fowke, piano
Lewis Kingsley Peart, piano
Excerpts of Sonatina Nostalgica, written for and performed by Philip Fowke, and Sonata No 3 (Trinitas) played by Lewis Kingsley Peart. With introductions by Stephen Hough.

“I’ve used serialism to destroy serialism. Serialism and The Trinity are both dogmas – both fruitful in some ways and both causing a lot of problems in other ways…” – Stephen Hough

Philip Fowke performs Addinsell’s Warsaw Concerto


Day 3: Weds 8 July 2020

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(7) Heloïse Tunstall-Behrens Birds of a Feather

Heloïse discusses her compositional approach with Maya-Leigh Rosenwasser – how motion from the body can instigate a sonic work. Maya joins a group performance recorded on Zoom during the Covid19 lockdown.

“Birds of a Feather is a procedural work, which explores how motion from the body can instigate a sonic work. The piece evolves through four stages, with the previous stage influencing the next. Movement gives rise to sound, which gives rise to copied sounds. The choreography of the group dictates the structure of the composition, and this follows rules inspired by the flocking of birds. The performers either follow or lead each other in movements, just as a murmuration navigates its way through the skies.
“I’m interested in the way in which simple rules can generate synchronicity and cohesion when movements somehow convene, but that can just as quickly dissolve into anti-synchrony in a flash. Within such a self-organised system, where communication is only non-verbal, why and when these come about is fascinating to me.” – Heloïse Tunstall-Behrens


  • Maya-Leigh Rosenwasser, piano/keyboard
  • Billy Leach, electric guitar
  • Ines Murer, guitar
  • Roxanna Albayati, cello
  • Joshua Kaye, soprano saxophone
  • Sunniva Rorvik, paper
  • Lindsey Eastham, vibraphone
  • Xanthe Stonehouse-Pope, voice
  • Heloïse Tunstall-Behrens, viola
  • Bea Addis, movement
  • Merve Iseri, movement
  • Tanya Auclair, movement

(8) Preludes Part 3

Creative reflections in isolation.
Alluding to the improvisational tradition of ‘preluding’ in the 18th and 19th Centuries and beyond. Thoughts that come before…

Lewis Kingsley Peart
…der Auftakt (the start)

Konstantinos Korkodeilos

Carolina Saddi Cury
Sonata (2nd movement)
Carolina Saddi Cury, piano

Andy Trewren
…down the river
(improvisation using a mic and digital loop station)


Day 4: Thur 10 July 2020

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(9) Andy Trewren The Screwed Up Piano
A short film about composer Andy Trewren’s planned gallery installation based on the life and immanent death of his extended piano.

(10) Preludes Part 4

Creative reflections in isolation.
Alluding to the improvisational tradition of ‘preluding’ in the 18th and 19th Centuries and beyond. Thoughts that come before…

Ryszard Tan
Sarabande and Enlightenment
Elle Lumb, piano

Inès Murer
Thinking, Feeling, Playing: Words in Progress
Garrett Snedeker, piano

Annie Li

Sam Pradalie
Light Dances
Marisa Muñoz López, piano
Zoë Dominique Subbiah, dancer

“In Light Dances I wanted to create a sense of fluidity. Throughout the composition I wanted to explore moving through a series of seemingly unrelated material but for the piece to still have a coherent musical language.” – Sam Pradalie

(11) Michael Finnissy Fifth Political Agenda
Annie Li, piano
The first airing of a new piece by Michael Finnissy written specially for Annie Li.
“The piece is a kind of ‘symbolic’ biographical account of (some of) Annie’s life-experiences.”

Annie Li’s complete performance of The History of Photography in Sound, New Lights Festival, Trinity Laban, 17/06/2019


Day 5: Fri 10 July 2020

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(12) Yuka Takechi Winter Light / Ephemera for Piano inspired by Haiku Winter by Murō Saisei
Yukiko Shinohara, piano
Japanese composer Yuka Takechi talks about her work with pianist Yukiko Shinohara, who performs excerpts from Takechi’s Winter Light.

“The idea of her composition is based on cognition of time and space, and transforming elements from within genres of Japanese traditional music such as Shomyo, Gagaku and Noh.”

(13) Preludes Part 5

Creative reflections in isolation.
Alluding to the improvisational tradition of ‘preluding’ in the 18th and 19th Centuries and beyond. Thoughts that come before…

Roxanna Albayati

Isabella Gori
to Debussy’s “Children’s Corner”

Catherine Underhill

Garrett Snedeker

(14) Rodney Sharman Opera Transcriptions
Christos Fountos, piano

Rodney Sharman discusses the inspiration and techniques behind his opera transcriptions for solo piano, and Christos Fountos performs a selection, including Wagner’s Tristan and Isolde.
“Everything we know about harmony until Wagner’s time is inadequate to express Wagner’s vision of sensuality, longing and transfiguration. Isolde’s final words “höchste Lust!” is often translated as “utmost joy!”, but is literally “highest (sexual) desire”. – Rodney Sharman


Day 6: Sat 11 July 2020

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(15) Ed Cooper shadows paralysed into my back
Roxanna Albayati, cello
Ed Cooper discusses his interdisciplinary practice, which centres on liminality — the function and dimensions of the ‘in-between’. Roxanna performs an interpretation of his delicate and evocative graphic score shadows paralysed into my back.
always fracturing; frail but focused; everything is deterioration” –(direction at the beginning of the score)

(16) Preludes Part 6

Creative reflections in isolation.
Alluding to the improvisational tradition of ‘preluding’ in the 18th and 19th Centuries and beyond. Thoughts that come before…

Markas Michmel

Frank Oliver

Mahsa Salali

Norman Jacobs
Rolf Hind, piano

“Juneteenth marks the end of the American Civil War following the proclamation on June 19, 1865 that all slaves in Texas were free. 155 years later George Floyd was the latest victim of racial discrimination in the US, asphyxiated on the street by local policeman. George Floyd’s murder quickly became a focal point globally leading to protests around the world. This piece uses the musical monogram ‘GEGEFD’ repeated in a number of different contexts including my own arrangement of the 1870s song ‘No More Option Block’.

The Beethoven quotations came unconsciously during my initial improvisation, which I was inclined to leave out in the final version until remembering that the Eroica Symphony was first introduced in Boston in 1810 by the German-born Gottlieb Graupner who a decade earlier had donned blackface and called himself ‘The Gay Negro Boy’ in what was the beginning of minstrels and minstrelsy.

It is hoped that the piece manages to reflect some of the shock, sadness, anger, confusion but also hope that is felt at this time.”


MOOT (Music of our time)


Day 7: Sun 12 July 2020

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(17) Preludes Part 7

Creative reflections in isolation.
Alluding to the improvisational tradition of ‘preluding’ in the 18th and 19th Centuries and beyond. Thoughts that come before…

Melinda Peschut

Carolina Saddi Cury, piano
Konstantinos Damianakis, electric guitar
to a brave new world

High Fantasy (excerpt) by Ryszard Tan
iii. Interlude and Improvisations
iv. Exposition
v. Final

Ryszard Tan, piano primo
Francesca Lauri Menta , piano secondo
Chiara Pagani, choreography/dance lead
Vida Sjoequist, dance
Michaela Butel, dance
Eleanor Cross, dance

Performed at Blackheath Halls as part of Trinity Laban CoLab Festival 2020

(18) Norbert Zehm Prelude in Turquoise
Maya-Leigh Rosenwasser, piano
Marie Stockhausen, dancer
Gabriel Zehm, Film editor
Austrian composer, performer and visual artist Norbert Zehm discusses his work with Maya-Leigh Rosenwasser, who performs Prelude in Turquoise and improvises with Norbert’s live action painting.