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Staff and alumni receive new Zeitgeist Commissions

Wed 15 April 2020

Former PhD candidate Ailie Robertson and composition tutor Soosan Lolavar will write new work for The Riot Ensemble.

Launched in response to the current Covid-19 crisis by The Riot Ensemble and, the new Zeitgeist Commissions offer paid opportunities for composers and musicians to continue to create together in a virtual context.

Among those selected to write short solo works for some of the top European soloists in new music are two members of the Trinity Laban community: multi-award winning composer and harpist Ailie Robertson and British-Iranian composer and educator Soosan Lolavar.

Ailie – who completed her PhD at Trinity Laban in the summer of 2019 – will write for cellist Louise McMonagle, while Soosan – composition tutor at Trinity Laban – has been commissioned to compose a short violin solo for Sarah Saviet.

The new works will premiere online over the coming months.

Ailie says –

“I had originally sent some scores to The Riot Ensemble during their Call for Scores, and I believe they had almost 450 entries, so it was a total pleasure to be chosen for this commission opportunity. This lockdown presents such unusual challenges for music creation, so it’s amazing to see the ensemble embracing the opportunity to collaborate in new, virtual ways. Writing for Louise is such a pleasure – she is an incredible cellist, and I can’t wait to hear the results!”

Soosan comments –

“Receiving this commission was like a hand reaching out in the dark. The strange anxiety of this period has left me feeling closed and not very creative. I was unsure about how to approach composing again.

Writing a short piece for a brilliant player feels like a first step on the road to creatively deal with my own understanding of isolation and I’m grateful for the chance to share such experiences with Sarah and a wider audience.” 

This is not the first time Ailie and Soosan’s music have been part of the same series: both were featured in our ground-breaking Venus Blazing initiative which championed the work of female creatives in our 2018/19 season.

Learn more about the commissions at

To find out more about composition at Trinity Laban, visit our study pages.

Image L-R: Ailie Robertson (credit; Soosan Lolavar (credit Katherine Waters)