Library E-Resources: Alexander Street

This series of blog posts intends to highlight a particular online resource from time to time in order to give students and staff a better idea of what kinds of useful things are available via the library.

This month I’ve decided to draw attention to Alexander Street. To access Alexander Street, along with all of our other online resources, head to Moodle, find the ‘Library Links’ drop-down menu on the home page and select ‘Online Resources’.

What is Alexander Street?

Alexander Street is an electronic database containing an enormous number of scores, audio recordings, videos and text resources. There’s a whole range of great things to explore on their site, covering practically every type of music, so I would recommend having a browse around the topics of most interest to you. In particular, there are lots of digital scores, many of which are still in copyright and so not accessible via IMSLP. Similarly with recordings and videos – there’s plenty of things here you won’t find on Youtube or Spotify.

How can I use it?

If you use Quicksearch (accessible via Moodle or the library catalogue page), the results you’ll get will potentially include things which are on Alexander Street. However, something I would recommend is simply browsing the AS site directly. They have a huge range of fascinating resources that you wouldn’t necessarily think of searching for specifically; things like masterclasses, historic performances and lots of excellent documentaries about music.

Once you’re on the AS homepage, the ‘My Collections’ drop-down menu shows a complete list of their resources to which we have subscribed. These can then be browsed individually. A particular favourite of mine is the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. This is an amazing resources for anyone interested in the world’s diverse musical practices, with a huge volume dedicated to each continent. Other great resources include ‘Opera in Video’ and the ‘Jazz Music Library’, to name just two. There’s something on there for everyone – take a look!

Please note that there are licensing restrictions for using the digital scores from Alexander Street. They have told us that they can be printed and used for study or in-class use (including rehearsals) but must not be used for any performance that is open to the public, even if no entry fee is charged.

If you’re on site at Trinity Laban, access Alexander Street here
Or if you’re at home, access Alexander Street here


Stephen Montague talks to the Jerwood Library of the Performing Arts

photo of stephen montague

On Friday 9th March there will be a celebration of the music of Trinity Laban professor Stephen Montague at St John’s, Smith Square. To commemorate this my colleague James Luff has mounted an exhibition featuring, among other things, photographs lent by the composer documenting his various exploits. To accompany this we wrote to Stephen asking some questions about pieces featured in his birthday concert and for his thoughts on contemporary music in general. Here is our correspondence:

JLPA: Haiku for piano, tape and electronics is to be performed at your birthday concert, and features a live piano with some kind of synthesised processing and pre-recorded material. Could you explain a little about the genesis of the piece, the use it makes of electronics, and some of its influences?

SM: In the summer of 1986 I went to the San Francisco Bay area for the first time, working for a month in Stanford University’s computer studios (CCRMA). While I was there I was struck by the multiplicity of ethnic groups, particularly Asian, now indigenous to the area. It became clear to me for the first time why so many West Coast American composers like Henry Cowell, John Cage, Lou Harrison, Terry Riley and others found so much inspiration in Eastern musics.

While I was in California the British pianist Philip Mead commissioned me to write a new piano work using live electronics & tape. That commission resulted in Haiku (1987). The live electronics flange ‘detunes’ the piano sound and along with a computer generated ‘tape’ drone creates a rather what I’d like to think of as a unique Asian/American ‘mid-Pacific’, sound world. Haiku began as a series of small gestures (haiku) but ultimately expanded to 13 min. work. The premiere was already advertised so the title stuck.

JLPA: Hound Dog Blues
Could you say a little about your interest in influences from outside the classical domain (as it is normally understood)? Obviously blues plays a part: could you explain how, and what element(s) of the blues is it that you wanted to incorporate into the piece?

SM: My teens in the late 1950s and 60s were in the American Deep South in a small town close to the Georgia border. There was always something evocative about listening to a black musician playing the Blues in a dark smokey bar. Unlike the classic music I was studying at university, jazz seemed to somehow magically and effortlessly flow from the performer’s fingers. I always liked that fluid image so from time to time I’ve visited those dusty memories and they’ve inspired a few small jazz works. It’s like a relaxing interlude between my struggles with large classical forms. There are two jazz/blues inspired works premiered on my 9 March Birthday Concert at St. Johns, Smith Square – Hound Dog Blues (2013) and Beguiled (2015). They’re programmed as ‘coloured threads’ in the concert’s sonic tapestry.

JLPA: Concerto for Piano & Orchestra
Could you say something about the musical materials you based this piece on; what your aesthetic aims were, whether you had any particular models in mind?

SM: My Piano Concerto was commissioned by the 1997 BBC Proms and premiered in the Royal Albert Hall by virtuoso Rolf Hind and the Orchestra of St Johns (John Lubbock conductor).

The concerto is for the traditional arrangement of soloist and orchestra, but is not always traditional. Although I’ve lived in Britain since 1974 my musical heroes seem to remain transatlantic:  I admire Charles Ives’s unapologetic juxtaposition of vernacular music and the avant-garde, Henry Cowell’s irreverent use of fist, arm and elbow clusters, the propulsive energy of minimalism and John Cage’s radical dictum that ‘all sound is music’.  The Concerto is a confluence and synthesis of these interests in my American musical roots.

As a child I lived in the Deep South where the scars of the American Civil War (1861-65) never stopped festering and the rich vernacular music of that era continued to stir passions.  Every school child knew folksongs like John Henry and Negro spirituals such as Were You There When They Crucified My Lord?  Some of the more rousing Civil War songs like Dixie required Southerners to stand at fevered attention while further north, The Battle Hymn of the Republic sent a chill down the spine of every Northern patriot.

Charles Ives’ accounts of his childhood in a small New England town at the end of the last century are well known.  They especially resonate for me because of my own similar experiences two generations later.  In the South there were also parades, marching bands, church meetings, hymns, folk and gospel music but set in the heavy air of a sweltering heat.  Those images still burn brightly and often provide material for my compositional work especially in this concerto.

JLPA: What are your thoughts about contemporary classical music, particularly in the UK?

SM: The wonderful thing about living at this point in the 21st century is the wide spectrum of contemporary music(s) available to audiences currently. In the early 1960s when I was studying classical music ‘serious music’ was really only 12 tone music- hard core. Anything else was considered pandering to an audience and that was discouraged in most conservatoires. Thank god times have radically changed since then! That public voted with their feet. Now, anything goes which is wonderful for the composer and even better for the audience. An important caveat however still remains- it must be done extremely well.

The new music scene here in Britain is vibrant and pretty healthy but there is a new government health warning and that comes in the form of worrying financial cuts to the arts. We all must not be complacent in such insidious erosion. We should be duty bound to lobby MPs and reverse this trend immediately. The Arts are vital to the health of the nation and should be protected at all costs!

JLPA: Do you have any thoughts about the materials available to contemporary composers, for example in terms of melody, harmony and rhythm? (From what I’ve seen of your output you don’t have a dogmatic view on, for example, the use of tonal harmonic and melodic materials.)

SM: I think the most valuable thing a composer can do is to listen to lots and lots of music – music from all genres from pop to the most avant-garde. Listening to music is the best teacher you can possibly have but you actually need to stop often, sit down, and listen without distraction. Concentrate! All music is a great textbook with both the questions and  the composers’ answers right there in front of you. For free! Learn from listening and studying and you’ll get better.

Visit Stephen Montague’s website here

photo of stephen montague

Golden Glories

As Trinity Laban’s Gold Medal showcase approaches, what better opportunity to celebrate all things golden in the Jerwood Library!

Our display case currently features a few choice aureate items:


Puccini’s La Fanciulla del West is based on David Belasco’s play The Girl of the Golden West and is set during the Californian gold rush. Set in a 19th century mining camp, the plot includes features that would later become tropes of wild west films: an assertive female saloon owner, a mysterious stranger and a poker game that decides a man’s life.

Le Coq D’Or was Rimsky-Korsakov’s final opera, with Vladimir Belsky’s libretto deriving from Pushkin’s poem The Tale of the Golden Cockerel. It was completed in 1907 but immediately banned by the government, who, in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese war, clearly didn’t take kindly to the subject of a tsar whose questionable decisions resulted in catastrophe. It didn’t receive its first performance until 1909, a year after the composer’s death.

Staying in Russia, Shostakovich’s ballet The Golden Age was based around a Soviet football team visiting a western city during an industrial exhibition. Filled with jazz and popular musical influences from the West, the ballet suite on display includes the popular “wrong note” Polka which satirized League of Nations politicians.

Britten’s The Golden Vanity is subtitled “a vaudeville for boys and piano after the old English ballad”.  The boys are divided into two groups, representing the ship’s company of The Golden Vanity and the pirates of the Turkish Galilee. Instructions in the score include that it should be performed “in costume but without scenery” and “the action – swimming, cannon-firing, drowning, etc. – should be mimed in a simple way and only a few basic properties, such as telescopes and a rope, are needed… a drum should be used for the sound of cannon fire”.

Following the runaway success of the Lion King, Elton John and Tim Rice once again joined forces in composing original songs for The Road to Eldorado, the 2000 animation produced by DreamWorks telling the story of two con artists seeking out the legendary city of gold. Producer Jeffrey Katzenberg stated: “We wanted the songs sung by Elton to be the heart and soul of the movie—not only helping to tell the story, but revealing what’s happening beneath the surface.”[1]

Finally, A Goldfish Bowl is the autobiography of Elisabeth Lutyens, published in 1972, eleven years before her death. In it we learn that as a crying baby she scared away burglars in the next room, she was made to learn the violin at the age of eight as a salutary occupational therapy to stop her chronic nail-biting, and speaking of her decision to become a composer, “I became involved in something the family neither knew of nor cared for, so that no one could spoil it for me. Too bad if I had no talent – I would simply have to acquire one; a long process, a journey of discovery. But processes and journeys are as interesting and rewarding as arrivals”.[2]

[1] The Road to Eldorado: Production Notes <>

[2] Elisabeth Lutyens, A Goldfish Bowl (London: Cassell, 1972), 10.

Hundreds of new pieces for strings

As part of the ‘Printed Music Strategic Acquisition Plan 2013/14 – 2018/19′, developed by our fantastic enquiries and printed music acquisitions Librarian, Oliver Witkin, the current display in the small library display cabinet highlights the fact that the library has recently been concentrating on boosting its collection of music for strings.

String players – Looking for some new repertoire?Violin wordcloud

Further to my colleague’s blog post,  I wanted to highlight the fact that the library has been purchasing lots of new music not only for violin, but also for viola, cello, double bass and guitar. I  noticed that during both the Summer and Autumn terms that I had been processing lots of shiny new music by composers such as Henze, Gubaidulina, Dallapiccola, Rautavaara, Schnittke, Penderecki and Ysaye to name but a few. There’s been so much more music coming through for the other instruments of the string family, and as a very rusty string player myself, I wanted to get the message out about all this great new music available in the Jerwood Library.

New Schott editions for strings

New Schott editions for strings (Cover images reproduced with permission from Schott Music Ltd.)

Cello wordcloudFor the current display, I wanted to highlight some of the new Schott Music editions we have recently acquired. They’re all available to borrow – just come and speak to a member of library staff if you’d like to borrow one. Also, don’t forget to keep an eye on our ‘New in the Jerwood Library‘ shelves  near the library issue desk where we display a taste of some of the new library stock.  Currently there’s a mixture of new printed music for strings, new books and new DVDs. You can also browse new music additions to the catalogue here.

Changes to downloading Dawsonera e-books

An book held open by a model skull, surrounded by candles

This e-book change is happening at Halloween – let’s hope it’s not a bad omen!

From Tuesday 31 October 2017, Adobe Reader will no longer be used for downloaded Dawsonera e-books. Instead you must use the free Adobe Digital Editions (ADE) software (available for Windows, Mac, iOS and Android) or Bluefire Reader (available for Windows, iOS and Android).

This change resolves the problem with downloading e-books to iOS devices (iPads and iPhones).

Dawsonera have created a PDF guide to installing ADE on a Windows PC and their short video below demonstrates how to create an Adobe ID which allows you to open downloaded e-books on multiple devices (in both ADE and Bluefire Reader). Creating an Adobe ID is optional as you can choose to authorise your device without an ID. However this means the downloaded e-book will only work on the device you first downloaded it to. To access a downloaded title without an Adobe ID, please tick ‘I want to authorise my computer without an ID’ in the bottom left-hand corner of ADE when you are prompted to authorise your computer.

As the majority of e-books available from Trinity Laban libraries are provided by Dawsonera, ADE has been installed on all Trinity Laban PCs in preparation for this change.

We still recommend using the ‘read online’ feature instead of downloading e-books wherever possible as this is much more fully featured – for example, you can annotate the text or print/copy text from a limited number of pages.

However downloaded e-books can be read offline (once they’ve been downloaded and opened while you’re online) so can come in handy, for example to read on the move when you don’t have access to wifi or data.

Don’t be spooked (sorry) by these technical changes! Contact the Jerwood Library if you encounter any difficulties.

Update: Trinity Laban students and staff can download an updated guide to e-books from Moodle which covers multiple e-book suppliers.

Renewing items from the Jerwood Library

Picture of a library book's date label showing due date stamps

Photo credit: 140810-08 by waferboard, licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Got an email from the library reminding you your items are due back? Or, heaven forbid, that they are overdue and fines are building up?

Have no fear: watch our 90 second video (scroll down to ‘Jerwood Library Catalogue – renew my items on loan’) and discover how to renew your items instantly online via the Jerwood Library catalogue!

If you prefer written instructions:

  1. Log in with your usual username and password (same as Moodle)
  2. Click on My Account then Renew items on my card
  3. Tick the items to renew (or choose Renew all) then click Renew selected items
  4. Make a note of the new due date(s) on the next page. If an item cannot be renewed a message should explain why, and you’ll need to bring it in to the library to return it or renew it in person.

If you encounter any problems renewing your items, email the library or contact us on 020 8305 3951 / the web chat box on the catalogue (during library opening hours only). If you can’t log in at all, please try resetting your password before contacting us.

Feldman Audio DVDs – Complete Music for Piano and Strings

CD covers reproduced with permission. Original photography by Brian Slater.

The Jerwood Library has just acquired an excellent three-volume set of Morton Feldman’s complete music for piano and strings as performed by John Tilbury and the Smith Quartet, including Trinity Laban’s head of strings, Nic Pendlebury.

Released by Matchless Recordings, the set comes in the unusual format of audio DVDs, enabling the often enormous length of Feldman’s later works to be presented on a single disc.

The discs can be found shelved in the chamber music section of the library’s CDs, under CHA: FEL

New Music for Violin

We have recently added over 200 new items to the Jerwood Library’s collection of violin music; works by composers such as James Dillion, Philip Glass, Christian Wolff, Iannis Xenakis, Morton Feldman, Elliot Carter, Lou Harrison, Pierre Boulez, Luigi Nono, Oliver Knussen, David Matthews, Isang Yun, and Eugene Ysaye. There are also new additions from the classical and romantic repertoire, and a variety of anthologies, methods, studies, exercises and workbooks.

Some of the new additions to our violin section. Covers reproduced with permission from the publisher.

A regularly updated list of our most recent acquisitions can be found here (this page is regularly updated). Please also keep an eye out for new items displayed on the recent acquisitions shelves in the library.

If you have any questions please feel free to contact me on 020 8330 3950 e-mail:

Trinity Laban Faculty Composers: DARREN BLOOM

New work Five Brief Lessons to be premiered on Saturday 15th July at Cheltenham Music Festival – read on for more details.

The Jerwood Library’s twin display cabinets currently feature a display featuring Darren Bloom: composer, conductor, producer and educator.

Darren studied composition with Edwin Roxburgh, Brian Elias and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, and conducting with Neil Thompson, Edwin Roxburgh and Christopher Austin. He was awarded a DipRAM and the Manson Fellowship from the Royal Academy of Music as well as recently being appointed an Associate of the RAM. In 2015 he commenced an AHRC funded PhD in Composition at the University of Cambridge under the supervision of Richard Causton.

In 2016 he won the Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize and has been commissioned to write a new chamber work for the 2017 Cheltenham Festival

We are particularly fortunate to be able to include in this display materials lent by the composer revealing some of the processes behind his composition, including various stages of sketches, and pages of the very recently finished work for the Piatti Quartet, Five Brief Lessons, which will receive its premiere on Saturday 15th July at the Cheltenham Music Festival (more details here). The concert will be recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio3’s Hear and Now.

His recent chamber symphony Dr. Glaser’s Experiment was commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra for their 2016 Futures Festival.
Darren’s chamber work Strange Attractors was selected by the UK panel of the International Society for Contemporary Music to represent the UK, and his chamber opera KETTLEHEAD was created as part of his second year of residence with the London Symphony Orchestra as a member of the LSO Soundhub Scheme.


Darren Bloom working with the Composers’ Ensemble at Junior Trinity
Photo credit: Belinda Lawley

Darren is a founding member and conductor/creative producer of the Ossian Ensemble with whom he has given the premieres of dozens of new works over the past decade. Other conducting highlights include a performance of Sir Peter Maxwell Davies’ Five Klee Pictures in the presence of the composer, recording music for BBC4 documentaries, directing several youth new music ensembles, including the Composers Ensemble at Junior Trinity, and making his third annual appearance as a conductor for the LSO Soundhub Scheme.

Darren Bloom in the Jerwood Library collection:

by Darren Bloom
for soprano and chamber ensemble
Shelf mark: 782.99 BLO

Strange Attractors
by Darren Bloom
for piano, alto flute, bass clarinet, percussion, violin, violoncello
Shelf mark: 782.99 BLO

Dr Glaser’s Experiment
by Darren Bloom
for chamber orchestra
Shelf mark: 782.99 BLO

Under the twinkle of a fading star, we whisper together, part 1
by Darren Bloom
for violin, piano and sampler
Shelf mark: 782.99 BLO

CD: Tangled Pipes by Consortium5 featuring Consorts by Darren Bloom

Over 200 new DVDs added to the library!

The Jerwood Library has been fortunate to receive another very generous donation and this time, it’s DVDs from Billy Newman. Firstly, we checked through them all for duplicates, selling the few we found on to staff and students to raise some funds for the library. My colleague Helen then had the huge task of cataloguing all of the them so that when someone searches the catalogue, they’ll find them easily. To search only for DVDs, simply change the ‘type’ to ‘DVD’.

New DVDs

A selection of the new DVDs waiting to go out onto the library shelves

We’ve got a wide variety of genres on DVD; from masterclasses to films and from musicals to yoga. Many of the new DVDs are operas and what is great is that we’ve got maybe 3 or 4 different versions of the same opera. If you can’t find the opera you’re looking for, or you’re away for the summer, why not try using our online resource: Opera in Video?

Current students and staff can borrow up to four DVDs at once for a week at a time. We’re open for most of the summer so why not take advantage and try out some of the great DVDs the library has to offer – you might just be surprised by what you find!