Croydon’s cultural scene was firmly put on the map with the construction of the Fairfield Halls in the early sixties. With plans to develop the building into a world-class entertainment venue well underway, the rest of the cultural scene across Croydon continues to flourish as art galleries, performance spaces and community projects continue to thrive.
Not far to the east of the town centre, one of Croydon’s best-kept cultural secrets awaits. Trinity School, Shirley Park, is home to the world renowned Trinity Boys’ Choir. Formed of boys from the school, many of whom not singing a note before they arrive aged 11, the choir has enjoyed a fantastic 50 year career so far.
Lead by Trinity’s Head of Music David Swinson, the choir are regularly invited to tour with professional productions throughout Europe, the USA and Asia, including La Monnaie, Milan, Venice, and at the Aix-en-Provence Festival. Each year they perform at Glyndebourne Opera House in East Sussex, and are regulars performing at the Royal Opera House and English National Opera in London. The choir has also featured on the soundtracks of major motion pictures, including Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, Disney’s Maleficent, and The Hunger Games trilogy.
Notwithstanding the choir’s excellent reputation, music has always been at the heart of Trinity. Over 500 pupils take part in music lessons each week, and all new boys in the Lower School are involved in a concert in their first year. Part of The Whitgift Foundation, approximately 15 music scholarships are offered each year, recognising the talent and potential of new students, and celebrating participation and excellence in music.
To support its talented students, Trinity has invested in providing outstanding facilities to match. The School’s new Music Centre was opened in September 2017, featuring three state-of-the-art music ICT suites, a state of the art recording studio, a dedicated Choir Room, dedicated practice rooms, teaching rooms and a wonderful recital hall. This wonderful, world-class facility complements the School’s existing Concert Hall, which has been home to many professional performances in the time that the Fairfield Halls has been closed.
David Swinson, Trinity’s Head of Music said “I am so proud of my staff who are both committed teachers and outstanding musicians and I am thrilled that our facilities match our ambitions. So many pupils at Trinity are involved in musical activities so it was essential for us to have ample space and excellent resources; now we have both”.
As a flagship All-Steinway School, access to world-class instruments has proved a real motivator and a great inspiration to the third of the student body that play the piano to excellent standards. The School’s new Steinway Suite, the only one of its kind in the world, provides remarkable teaching, learning and performing facilities, where students have the opportunity to experience what it is like to practice and perform as a professional musician.
Trinity is also uniquely placed to award one student a Steinway Scholarship each year, where the winner studies with Professor Vanessa Latarche, Head of Piano at the Royal College of Music and gives a number of solo recitals throughout the year, including at the prestigious Steinway Hall in London and a concert tour in Venice.
Richard Evans, Trinity’s Head of Piano, said: “Our pianists have been on a remarkable journey recently and it’s amazing to see how inspired they are to play. They have so many opportunities to perform and on such wonderful instruments, but there is still a sense of drive and energy to achieve even greater things, which makes this environment just so exciting for all”.
The School runs its own music competitions throughout the year, including the Trinity Musician of the Year, the Trinity Piano Festival and the Pro Corda National Chamber Music Festival, where hundreds of students take part. Professional musicians are also regularly welcomed to the school, working with students and also performing to members of the local community. Having the chance to perform in the School’s amazing facilities, and seeing professional musicians outside of London, has proved extremely popular, and contributes to the School’s ever-growing reputation as a destination for music in the borough.
The dawn of an exciting new chapter for Croydon is on the horizon, and Trinity’s contribution to Croydon’s cultural offering certainly is playing ‘instrumental’ role.
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