Trinity Laban College Abolishes All-Male Composer Concerts

Harriet Harman launches ‘Venus Blazing’ with students at Trinity Laban in London (Image: Juno Snowdon)

Trinity Laban College Abolishes All-Male Composer Concerts

'Venus Blazing', a new initiative to promote work by women composers, named after Deirdre Gribbin work.

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London has announced a new initiative titled ‘Venus Blazing’, a commitment to music by women composers throughout the next academic year that will abolish concerts which feature music by only men.

The initiative – which is named after Northern Ireland composer Deirdre Gribbin’s 2001 Violin Concerto Venus Blazing – will ensure that at least half of the music the college chooses for its concerts in 2018/19 will be by women composers.

This encompasses the 60+ concerts and opera performances given by the conservatoire’s student performing groups, which cover classical music, opera and jazz. 

Labour MP Harriet Harman, Chair of Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, commented:

Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and 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.

Among the works featured in Venus Blazing is a new production of Thea Musgrave’s opera A Christmas Carol, 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 music by current Trinity Laban composition students and staff, including Soosan Lolavar, Laura Jurd and Deirdre Gribbin.

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. 

The Venus Blazing initiative is being led by two members of Trinity Laban’s Faculty of Music: Dr Sophie Fuller, Programme Leader of Trinity Laban’s Master’s degree programmes and author of The Pandora Guide to Women Composers: Britain and the United States, alongside conductor and Head of Orchestral Studies, Jonathan Tilbrook.

Dr Fuller commented:

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.

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Published on 13 March 2018

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