Junior Trinity

Written by: Colin Anderson

Junior Trinity celebrates 100 years of educating musical youngsters – and there is much to applaud…

“I owe Junior Trinity a lot; it gave me my career.” A heartfelt comment by Marion Friend, the current director of Junior Trinity, which is 100 years young this year, the oldest of its type in the UK, and groundbreaking in 1906 when Trinity College of Music opened its doors to schoolchildren on Saturdays. Now based at the World Heritage Site of the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich, Trinity College began “taking students on Saturdays for music training. Other counties started copying because they realised how successful it was.” Today “the intensive main programme specifies standards; the children would need to be about Grade 5 to benefit. During term time it’s all-day on Saturdays and the kids develop as musicians and individuals. We also have a programme called String Time, which is for 3 to 11 year-olds without audition. We always look for potential, so someone incredibly keen and motivated would get a lot out of being here. People blossom here; it’s the environment.”

And magnificent that environment is. Trinity College is housed in imposing, very historical buildings of Royal association, the Cutty Sark being a nearby attraction. “We’re very near public transport and yet it’s dead quiet and secluded. It’s ideal! We have a vocal department and a composing faculty and the essence is traditional and formal but it doesn’t mean we don’t expand, such as for music technology A-level, which is very popular; we have wonderful recording facilities here. It’s all types of music including jazz, there’s a very successful big band, and we aim for the highest standards in classical performance.”

All can be heard at Cadogan Hall on Saturday March 18 beginning at 7 o’clock. “One of Trinity’s alumni is Debbie Wiseman. She is very keen to be involved. It’s great that the Junior Trinity Symphony Orchestra can play her music and she can conduct it. We have a big choir singing Handel and African songs; the big band will play Duke Ellington and Count Basie, there’s the vocal ensemble in Martinů songs, and two of our soloists play movements from the Mendelssohn Violin Concerto and Elgar’s Cello Concerto.”

Marion looks back fondly to the fee- and fare-paying Junior Exhibition she obtained “from my local authority. I wanted an intensive music course. I was studying the piano privately and the oboe at school; Trinity helped me to get into Cambridge by giving me special tuition to help with the entrance exam. I want to nurture students as I was nurtured. I’m responsible for the strategic planning of Junior Trinity, the curriculum in consultation with staff, and I do fundraising for bursaries and networking to get the best contacts for students.”

It should be a splendid concert at Cadogan Hall. “All the staff want to preserve the highest possible standards because musical discipline brings other skills, and the students have such a good social time here. It’s a special event for the centenary and the audience will get a very good overview of what Junior Trinity does and aspires to. They will see the enjoyment of the kids, who put in a hell of a lot of time and some travel a long way, and their lively personalities!”

  • Trinity College of Music
  • Junior Trinity: 020 8305 4434 [e-mail: junior@tcm.ac.uk]
  • Cadogan Hall
  • Cadogan Hall: 020 7730 4500
  • The above article was published in “What’s On in London” on 9 March 2006 and is reproduced here with permission

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