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September Alumni Roundup

Tue 6 October 2020

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

At the start of the month, we were delighted to see several familiar Trinity Laban faces at the 2020 BBC Proms. 

Composer, cellist and singer Ayanna Witter-Johnson co-hosted the first night of the Proms from the Royal Albert Hall alongside renowned actor and presenter Stephen Fry, discussing the works of Hannah Kendall, Eric Whitacre, Aaron Copland and Beethoven.

Percussionist Manu Delago performed with sitarist and composer Anoushka Shankar in a collaboration with electronic music producer Gold Panda and the strings of the Britten Sinfonia.

The following week, eight-piece jazz ensemble KOKOROKO made their Proms debut. Led by TL alum Sheila Maurice-Grey and featuring fellow alum Cassie Kinoshi, the band performed some of their most widely known works, including ‘Carry Me Home’, ‘Uman’, and ‘Abusey Junction’.

Jazz alumni continued to shine on the London jazz scene this month.

Cassie Kinoshi, Joe Armon-Jones and Daniel Casimir joined Nubya Garcia to perform tracks from her debut album SOURCE in an NPR Tiny Desk concert on the Thames.

Gracing the stage of Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club were saxophonist Camilla George and her band, Leo Richardson with his quartet, and Pyjæn with material from their latest EP Sage Secrets.

Further north, drumkit alum Abbie Finn performed at the Gosforth Civic Theatre in Newcastle with the Abbie Finn Trio in their first live concert since lockdown. Check out the latest edition of Jazzwise Magazine, where Abbie shares her experience of the North-East jazz scene over the Covid period, and Ayanna Witter-Johnson discusses her favourite Nina Simone album.

Many congratulations were in order this month for new appointments and award nominations.

We were delighted to see so many alumni and staff featured in the One Dance UK Awards shortlist this year, including Sonia Rafferty, Manuela Angioi, Lucie Clements, Katy Chambers, Sofia Ornellas Pinto, Shantel Ehrenberg, Joss Arnott and Mobius Dance (led by Gianluca Vicentini).

Composer John Powell was nominated for the Public Choice Award at the World Soundtrack Awards for his original score for The Call Of The Wild. 

Shelly Maxwell was nominated for the Best Choreography Award at the Black British Theatre Awards, alongside TL faculty member Dollie Henry. Celebrating the work of black performers and creatives in UK theatre, the awards will be announced at London’s Young Vic Theatre and will be broadcast on Sky Arts in late October.

International dance artist Leila McMillan was appointed as Senior Lecturer in Contemporary Dance at The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts, while musical theatre alum Elliot Coombe landed the role of understudy Christopher Wren in Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap at St Martin’s theatre.

As restrictions eased this month, alumni performed and had their work premiered at venues all over the world.

Marking the triumphant return of live opera, English National Opera premiered their drive-in production of Puccini’s classic La Bohème at Alexandra Palace, starring vocal alum John Savournin.

Audiences across the UK saw the amazing Ember Trio, featuring Elliot Lyte and Tom Huet, perform a mash-up of Destiny’s Child, Eminem and Dr Dre in the Britain’s Got Talent semi-finals.

Vinzenz Stergins new work ‘Unwritten’ was selected as part of Ten Songs for a Lar, run by the Kent-Medway Museum Partnership. Inspired by a 2000-year-old figurine found in Frindsbury, Kent, Vinzenz’s commission explores the thoughts, power and worth of one unheard Roman woman.

Cellist Stjepan Hauser performed a stunning version of Hans Zimmer’s ‘Now We Are Free’ from Gladiator, surrounded by equally stunning scenery in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

Dance alum Molly Hick was among the cast of Cunningham Centennial Solos at the Oriente Occidente Dance Festival in Roverto, Italy. Also featuring dance faculty member Benjamin Warbis and staged by fellow lecturer Daniel Squire, the ensemble performed the choreography of Merce Cunningham to a socially-distanced audience, with social distancing on stage as well.

Exploring themes of the near and distant future, dream logic and infinity, Maciej Kuźmińskis new work I saw its premiere at the Plartforma Festival in Lithuania.

Back in London, an ensemble of TL alumni performed new work Seperation and Community, exploring isolation and new connections experienced by communities over the last six months, at All Saints Church in West Dulwich. The piece, choreographed by alum Laura Engholm and featuring 2020 graduates Laure Dubanet, Kim Chi Lee and Hannah Wallace, was accompanied by music from current student Ola Akinidpe and Trinity College alum Sally Zimmermann.

Alumni continued to stay creative in the month of September, undertaking exciting new projects and enterprises.

Recent Masters graduate John Sturt was commissioned by innovative company Tête á Tête to write original works for their Opera Festival 2020 in partnership with The Cockpit Theatre.

Tommy Cattin shared the latest from his Switzerland-based international company EREM Dance, featuring TL alumni Virginia Poli, Sara Maurizi, Massimo Monticelli and Giordana Patumi, in this video promoting their open rehearsals, workshops and artistic residencies.

Watch this recent TEDx coffee morning with Elisabeth Schilling, where the dance artist discusses her work, her thoughts on the arts during the pandemic and her innovative lockdown project, Shoe Dances.

Drawing from her research residency at Jacksons Lane, Maisie Whitehead adapted her physical theatre project When Grief Came to Stay into an online series of 5 video shorts, each by a different artist working in a different medium. Watch the video of Masie’s live performance at the end of her residency.

Shelley Maxwell shared the first project from her new multimedia production company Bennu Creative House in collaboration with Kiln Theatre. PIVOT is part of Pocket Com, a series of comedy sketches that partners with theatres or arts organisations in order to create charitable revenue.

New documentary Rising Phoenix, exploring how the Paralympics continue to change attitudes towards disability, excellence, diversity and human potential, was released on Netflix. The film’s soundtrack was recorded during lockdown and features violin from alum Gemma Lunt. 

Alumni continued to share their insights and expertise this month.

Dee Byrne, Cherise Adams-Burnett and Sheila Maurice-Grey featured in Trinity Laban’s Girls and Young Women in Jazz virtual taster day, sharing insights with young female musicians into staying motivated and building skills during lockdown, experiences of studying jazz in a conservatoire and the challenges that female musicians face.

We caught up with trombonist Gav Hall in the latest in our Alumni Spotlight series, to reflect on his time as a student, understand what it’s like to be a military musician, and to hear what’s next.

Mercury-nominated composer Cassie Kinoshi contributed to Ear Opener’s new series of videos on composition from top industry professionals, sharing her expertise on how to arrange, write to a brief and create balance in your music.

Shelley Maxwell talked to TL about her new multimedia production company Bennu Creative House and its vision to build innovative artistic concepts encompassing content across film, television, theatre and digital media.

Teaching Musician alum Kay Charlton released her new book How to teach Whole-class instrumental lessons – 50 Inspiring Ideas, and actress Shobna Gulati discussed her book Remember Me? Discovering my mother as she lost her memory in an episode of Women’s Hour on BBC Radio Four.


The Siobhan Davies Next Choreography Festival will take place online from 09 – 11 October, led by choreographer and TL alum Alexandrina Hemsley and featuring work from Renée Bellamy and Alison Thomas. Join the free festival on Zoom.

The Jazz Cafe has a selection of great concerts over the next couple of months, including Jay Phelps’ album launch on 22 October, Ayanna Witter-Johnson on 17 November and Camilla George on 19 November.

If you’re in London this weekend, head to Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club to see pianist, singer and songwriter Reuben James perform live on Saturday night.

Dance alum Joseph Houseals organisation Core of Culture is hosting a new four-part lecture series this month. The series of talks are on ‘Mudra and the Diamond Spheres’, the organisation’s four-year initiative assisting the preservation of Buddhist ritual heritage in dance and movement. Sign up for the weekly Wednesday online talks.

We’re so excited to see the EFG London Jazz Festival line-up of live and streamed gigs. Check out the schedule, including live performances from Daniel Casimir, Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur, SEED Ensemble and Ayanna Witter-Johnson, a composition masterclass with Peter Edwards, streams from Emma-Jean Thackray, Rosie Turton and Samuel Eagles, and Jazz 625 featuring Moses Boyd, KOKOROKO, Nubya Garcia and Ezra Collective. Moses Boyd will also join Gary Crosby and Tomorrow’s Warriors and in a celebration of Charlie Parker. Book your tickets here.

The Abbie Finn Trio’s new album Northern Perspective will be out on 1 November – preorder your copy on Bandcamp. 

Following the release of her critically-acclaimed album SOURCE, Nubya Garcia will perform in the Barbican’s upcoming series of concerts. Listen in from home or watch in person at the venue on 29 October.

Catch TL alum and choreographer Matthias Sperling in Transparencies at Siobhan Davies Studios. On Thursday 29 October, Matthias will join Siobhan Davies and Julie Cunningham for an evening investigating identity, knowledge and the mind in movement.