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Trinity Laban awards Honorary Fellowships to musical leaders

Mon 10 January 2022

Composer Sir George Benjamin and pianist Philip Fowke receive the conservatoire’s highest honour

Foremost English composer and conductor Sir George Benjamin CBE, and pianist and Emeritus Fellow of Piano at Trinity Laban Philip Fowke, have both received Honorary Fellowships from Trinity Laban in recognition of their contributions to music.

From his first orchestral piece Ringed by the Flat Horizon, which featured in the BBC Proms when he was only twenty years old to his most recent works, Sir George Benjamin has consistently produced music of outstanding creativity and invention. Notable for his innovative use of percussion and attention to detail, in each of his scores sensuous, alchemical sounds are underpinned with rigorous architecture, never more so than in his series of operas including the ground-breaking Written on Skin.Premiered at the Royal Opera House in 2012, the opera has since been staged by over 20 international houses, winning multiple awards and enjoying in excess of 100 performances.

Recent awards include the 2015 Prince Pierre of Monaco composition prize (for Written on Skin) and the 2019 Golden Lion Award for lifetime achievement from the Venice Biennale.  As a conductor Benjamin regularly works with some of the world’s leading orchestras, and over the years has developed particularly close relationships with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, Philharmonia Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and Ensemble Modern as well as the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra. He was awarded a C.B.E. in 2010, made a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres in 2015, and was knighted in the 2017 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

On receiving the award, Sir George Benjamin commented –

“To receive this award – within the spectacular setting of Trinity Laban – was both a huge pleasure and a great privilege.”

Alan Davey, Sir George Benjamin, Wozzy Brewster and Havilland Willshire, standing on steps outside King Charles Court in graduation robes

L-R: Havilland Willshire, Sir George Benjamin, Wozzy Brewster OBE, Alan Davey

Known for his many BBC Proms appearances, numerous recordings and broad range of repertoire, Philip Fowke is amongst Britain’s most outstanding pianists and distinguished musicians. His appearances with leading orchestras together with his many broadcasts and recordings have earned him international respect, admiration and the affection of audiences. Philip is a champion of less-known repertoire including British music by Scott, Bax, Delius, Bliss, Ireland, Hoddinott, Finzi and McCabe.

He has also enjoyed a distinguished teaching career beginning at the Royal Academy of Music where he was a professor from 1984 to 1989 and was awarded the F.R.A.M. After teaching at the Welsh College of Music and Drama he became Head of Keyboard at Trinity College of Music in 1994, and is currently Professor Emeritus at Trinity Laban. He is widely acclaimed for his imaginative teaching in which he explores students’ potential, encouraging them to develop their own individuality and to find ways of practising effectively and economically.

On receiving the award, Philip Fowke commented –

“I was delighted to be awarded a Trinity Laban Honorary Fellowship. As Havilland read out an outline of my career, I did wonder who he was referring to. It all seemed rather unreal, and I felt it was talking about someone else. The evidence of the photographs seems to prove otherwise, and the whole occasion was beautifully organised and presented.”

Philip Fowke standing in front of wrought iron gates and stonework in graduation hat and robe holding honorary fellowship scroll in both hands

Philip Fowke holds Honorary Fellowship scroll

This year’s Honorary Fellowships were presented by Trinity Laban Chair Alan Davey at our recent graduation ceremonies for 2020 and 2021 music students.

Also in attendance at the Old Royal Naval College Chapel, Greenwich were Dr Anthony Bowne (Trinity Laban Principal), Havilland Willshire (Trinity Laban Director of Music) and Sara Matthews (Trinity Laban Director of Dance), alongside guest speakers Rebecca Allen (President of EMI Records) and Wozzy Brewster OBE (Founder & Executive Director of The Midi Music Company).

Image credits: JK Photography