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Joe Townsend

Professorial Staff - Head Popular Music, 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

Everybody in the world should do CoLab. People need to learn how to work and interact with each other better and to have the opportunity to be creative.

Freya Hellier, Producer, BBC Radio 3, 2016
Joe Townsend


Joe is Head of the BA Music Performance and Industry, and the Head of CoLab  at Trinity Laban He also leads the ground-breaking artist development work that prepares students for sustainable careers in the music industry. Initially a self-taught musician in the punk era, 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, Aidan Love, Roma and Bluegrass musicians and projects for Boy George, Mick Jagger and Martin Green. He has specialised in folk and traditional music from across Europe, which is an inspiration for CD releases. As a composer he has created many works for the theatre and opera, including the National Theatre, Opera North and the Berlin Ensemble. This has a led to a specialism in cross-disciplinary performance and exploring cultural and artistic boundaries resulting in commissions in Romania, Japan and China.

As well as being a cultural commentator, Joe regularly speaks at conferences on collaboration, pedagogy, audience development and social entrepreneurship. He consults on early career survival for emerging artists with Serious Productions, Help Musicians UK and English Folk Expo and running courses for the V&A Innovative Leadership Programme.