Trinity Laban college to abolish all-male composer concerts

Harriet Harman launches Venus Blazing at Trinity Laban college

Leading international music college, Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance, announced today on International Women’s Day (8 March) its plans to effectively abolish concerts which feature music only by men.

Launched by Labour MP and Chair of Trinity Laban, Harriet Harman (pictured, middle), the Venus Blazing campaign pledges that music by women – past and present and across many genres – will make up more than half of the college’s concert programmes in the 2018/2019 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.’

The collage hosts varied public performances on its landmark Greenwich campus and in venues across London. The pledge to ensure that at least half of the music performed will be by women composers encompasses over 60 concerts and opera performances given each year by its student performing groups, which span classical music, opera, and jazz.

Speaking about the campaign which celebrates ‘missing’ female composers, Harman said: ‘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.’

Performances as part of Venus Blazing include a new production of Thea Musgrave’s opera A Christmas Carol (December 2018), symphonies by Louise Farrenc and Grace Williams and an exploration of the music of Trinity Laban alumna Avril Coleridge-Taylor.

Among those spearheading the campaign is Dr Sophie Fuller, Programme Leader of Trinity Laban’s Masters programmes. 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.’

For more information about the campaign, visit trinitylaban.ac.uk/venusblazing.

Photo: Juno Snowdon