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Joe Townsend

Professorial Staff - Head of CoLab


Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance
Faculty of Music
King Charles Court
Old Royal Naval College
SE10 9JF

Tel: +44 (0)20 8305 4375


Area of Work

Head of CoLab, Component Leader Engaging Audiences, Musical Studies (Jazz), Writing Musical Theatre
Joe Townsend


Joe Townsend is the Head of CoLab at Trinity Laban Conservatoire, where a thousand music and dance students work together to create new work and develop the skills that are valued in the creative industries. He also leads Engaging Audiences, a module that connects students with professional work in its many forms.

Initially a self-taught musician he later trained in Jazz on the violin at the Guildhall in the 1980s and then at Community Music with John Stevens, using improvisation as a tool for social change.

Throughout his career as a violinist he has collaborated with an eclectic range of different artists: Gavin Bryars, Laurie Anderson, Roma and Bluegrass musicians and as a soloist with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He has specialised in Folk and Traditional music including the music of South Eastern Romanian, which he was the source of inspiration for CD releases.

As a composer he has created works for Opera North (The Gypsy Bible, Foiea Verde, St George) and the National Theatre (Oresteia, Macbeth, Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet). This has a led to specialism in cross-discipline performance and an interest in exploring cultural and artistic boundaries resulting in commissions in Romania, Japan and China (OpEnCoV, Bregenz Opera Festival and Chinese Opera Shanghai Theatre Academy).

His work in Education has ranged from leadership training with LPO, Welsh National Opera and Opera North to developing pedagogical training programmes and contributing to the development of schools' music making in the National Curriculum and course design in the conservatoire.

Joe is a cultural commentator and academic at Trinity Laban and speaks at conferences on collaboration, pedagogy, audience development and social entrepreneurship. Since 2012, he has been a career advisor and creativity mentor for both students and professional artists.