Harriet Harman launches ‘Venus Blazing’, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance’s campaign to celebrate music by ‘missing’ women composers
Trinity Laban pledges that music by women – past and present and across many genres - will make up more than half of its concert programmes in 2018/19 academic year
Trinity Laban will also create an online database of female composers and expand its library to ensure students have access to the wealth of musical scores by women that music history has overlooked
Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance today announces Venus Blazing, an unprecedented commitment to the music of women composers throughout the next academic year, virtually abolishing concerts which feature only music by men.
Drawing on centuries of music past and present, Trinity Laban will ensure that at least half of the music it chooses for the multitude of varied public performances it mounts on its landmark Greenwich campus and in venues across London in 2018/19 will be by women composers. This encompasses the 60+ concerts and opera performances given each year by the conservatoire’s 12 large-scale student performing groups in all the musical genres for which Trinity Laban is known, including classical music, opera, and jazz. There will be a particular focus on 20th and 21st century British composers, including Trinity Laban students, alumni and staff.
Harriet Harman MP, Chair of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, launched Venus Blazing to coincide with a lunchtime concert by Trinity Laban’s Chamber Choir celebrating the 90th birthday of British composer Thea Musgrave, in Greenwich today [1pm, 8 March], also marking International Women’s Day.Harriet Harman says: “Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance is strongly committed to diversity in all elements and it has a mission to constantly challenge the status quo. Venus Blazing is a great example of just how it can do this. It will encourage and inspire its students – many of whom will go on to shape the future of the performing arts – to engage with the historic issue of gender imbalance in music by women, and ensure that it does not continue into the next generation. I welcome this bold initiative to raise awareness of the disparity that has long existed in music and shine a light on music that has so frequently been overlooked. I am also greatly looking forward to hearing some of the musical treasures by women I might not otherwise have had the chance to hear.”
Among the performance highlights of Venus Blazing is a new production of Thea Musgrave’s opera A Christmas Carol (December 2018), symphonies by Louise Farrenc and Grace Williams performed by the Trinity Laban Symphony Orchestra, an exploration of the music of Trinity Laban alumna Avril Coleridge-Taylor and much more to be announced in due course. This will include music by current Trinity Laban composition students and staff, including Soosan Lolavar, Laura Jurd and Deirdre Gribbin - whose Violin Concerto Venus Blazing has given the name to this celebration.
Alongside these performances Trinity Laban will make available an online database of works by female composers, and will expand its library resources, including scores, books and recordings. This will encourage and inspire students to discover works that they might not previously have been able to access, and will and ensure that Trinity Laban, as a modern conservatoire with a key role to play in shaping the next generation of music makers, addresses the historical gender imbalance in music so that it does not continue.
Venus Blazing is being spearheaded by two key members of Trinity Laban’s Faculty of Music: Dr Sophie Fuller, Programme Leader of Trinity Laban’s Masters programmes and acclaimed author of The Pandora Guide to Women Composers: Britain and the United States, alongside conductor and Head of Orchestra Studies, Jonathan Tilbrook, Head of Orchestral Studies.
Dr Sophie Fuller, said: “It is widely recognised that music created by women – whatever the genre – is heard much less often than music created by men. In past centuries, it was difficult for women to find a meaningful musical education or get equal access to performance opportunities, but there have always been those who leapt over any obstacles placed in their way. We at Trinity Laban want our students and their audiences to hear their often powerful work. It is our duty to celebrate women’s music, not just for one year, but to provide the structures, support and encouragement to ensure that this is a lasting legacy for all future musicians and music lovers.”