Trench Brothers – New Performance Dates launched


17 October. Brighton Dome. 7pm

 A new music theatre work commemorating ethnic minority soldiers in World War One
Music:  Julian Joseph and Richard Taylor
Words:  Tertia Sefton-Green
 Tickets are available through the BRIGHTON DOME and cost £12.

A new music theatre work commemorating the contributions of ethnic minority soldiers during the First World War through music, theatre and puppetry, bringing to life their hopes and fears, their longing for home, their camaraderie, courage and valour.

Directed by Clare Whistler and Freya Wynn-Jones to Neil Irish’s designs, it features over 250 children from local primary schools in Brighton, Newhaven, Lewes and Seaford alongside acclaimed jazz vocalist of the year and MOBO nominated Cleveland Watkiss and ‘superb’ (The Times) opera singer Damian Thantrey.

Renowned jazz composer Julian Joseph and award-winning composer Richard Taylor are joined by composers Michael Betteridge, Jenny Gould, Matthew King, James Redwood and Omar Shahryar in a unique collaboration drawing together work developed with schools across London, Lancashire and the South East since 2014.

This powerful centenary event is made all the more poignant by its location in Brighton Dome, which served as an Indian Military Hospital during the war.

The Trench Brothers Exhibition will be at Newhaven Fort from 4 August to 5 November offering a creative response to the untold stories of ethnic minority soldiers in the First World War. For more information on the interactive exhibition, please see our EXHIBITION PAGE.

Trench Brothers was created with support from Heritage Lottery Fund.


Trench Brothers visits the National Memorial Arboretum as part of the Lichfield Festival!

4 July 2018, 6pm.

FREE : Pre-booking required through the NMA website.

Performed in National Memorial Arboretum’s unique outdoor setting of remembrance, this inspiring and moving performance features MOBO nominated jazz singer Cleveland Watkiss, opera singer Damian Thantrey, puppetry and 120 local school children.

The Trench Brothers performance is a culmination of a project with local primary schools in which students explore the contributions of ethnic minority soldiers in the First World War though a series of workshops including artefacts handling, a visit from an Indian Army costumed interpreter, a composition session to set their Letters Home from a given soldier to music and puppet making to create their own force of Trench Brothers puppets. Their learning is supported by the Trench Brothers Education Zone offering contextual information and 90 lesson plans and activities linked to the curriculum

Trench Brothers also has a temporary exhibition at the NMA which is also FREE to visit – for more information please see our EXHIBITION PAGE.


Days of Shakespeare – Fear, greed, treachery and hatred

Weavers Academy opened Creative Education Trust’s double Days of Shakespeare with Richard III; the drama and background narrative cleverly integrated in three ingenious twisting frames and several excellent performances: villainy never looked so good. Lynn Grove’s Romeo and Juliet proceeded from comedy to sorrow with elegance and charm. Caister’s As You Like it closed the first day; this complex tale of exile and disguise brought into relief by the students’ confident and energetic use of the stage. As the company of actors transformed themselves with props and sound and movement into the forest of Arden, a memorable image was created for everyone in Abbeyfield’s auditorium.

Abbeyfield themselves opened the second day with Julius Caesar; grand and classical in its themes of republican power and politics, but with an undertow of moral complexity and decadence. The exemplary diction of the sixth form actors was an inspiration to younger players in the audience. Thistley Hough re-cast Twelfth Night in the campsite of a rained-out music festival, Count Orsino importuning music, the food of love, to his iPhone while Olivia scowled at hers. Ash Green’s Macbeth drew outstanding performances by the leads, supported by a confident cast of witches and men. The Hart School’s Much Ado About Nothing reminded us that we were watching human fauna at play in pursuit of love, as an anoraked cast of birdwatchers returned iteratively to their binoculars.

The Days of Shakespeare was devised for Creative Education Trust by HMDT Music four years ago and includes early interventions on text and design by the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Michael Corbidge and the designer Mark Friend. They have become treasured opportunities to perform some of the greatest works in English literature and design an absorbing visual spectacle. Most importantly, it is a chance for students to see what other schools in the trust have done and to witness their own creativity and skill in a wider perspective. Congratulations to the actors, designers and directors and an especial thank you to Richard Walker-Glen and his technical team at Abbeyfield School.

Article by Emily Campbell, Creative Education Trust

Meet our Team! Interview with Jason Rowland – composer and workshop leader

Artist Name: Jason Rowland
Artist Role(s): Leader for Music Treehouse
Date first worked with HMDT Music: 11/10/16

What you remember most:
The performance that I really remember was based on a photograph of a “lit grapefruit segment” (The SP theme that term was fruit!). It had 13 segments which led us straight in a time signature of 13/8. Each of the 3 groups had created a movement for the piece and each one led into the next and had overlapping moments. The rhythms and melodies created were quite complex and a real challenge for the group. The excitement and sense of achievement for the group after the performance was incredible and gave the group a real boost forward.

Project impact:
We had a session recently where a participant started to play the piano, something that he hadn’t shown an interest in before. As happens in this session he led the piece and the group followed. It has to be just one of the best musical moments so far. A duet started between him and a tutor whilst the rest of us gave accompaniment. There was everything you would want from a piece of music, dynamics, space, musical control and awareness. The piece lasted for a good 15 minutes and we all agreed afterwards that the piece could easily fit into our CD collections!

What do you like most about Music Treehouse?:
Music Treehouse is a fantastic project as whilst we have structure to our sessions they are musically led by the group. Their role is to create music with their instruments or voice and then go through the more traditional processes of refinement and rehearsal. We allow the group to make musical decisions and have control of everything that they do in the sessions which is something that they are not always able to do in their everyday life.

What else are you working on at the moment?:
I’m currently working with The Philharmonia on a music technology project, an SEND project with Snape Maltings writing new songs in response to the Friday Afternoon Songs, LPO and Trinity Laban’s Animate Orchestra and All in sound, a singing project for dementia sufferers.

Any advice to young artists wanting to work in the arts or music?
Work hard, have fun and opportunities will come to you.

Trench Brothers 2018

Trench Brothers at NMA

We’re delighted that St Joseph’s RC Primary School, Lichfield and Blackwood School, Sutton Coldfield will be taking part in Trench Brothers this summer and performing with team of Cleveland Watkiss and Damian Thantrey in the grounds of The National Memorial Arboretum.

NMA’s centre of Remembrance offers a spiritually uplifting setting honouring the fallen and those who have sacrificed and given service, giving the project a unique new dimension for its first public outing. Alongside the performances on 4th July (which are the culmination of schools’ work with artefacts handling, a costumed interpreter, song writing and puppet making), our Trench Brothers Exhibition will be showcased in NMA’s temporary exhibition space which is expected to be visited by 40,000 people during the month of July.

In partnership with    and      


Thanks to support from     





Trench Brothers South East


This new phase of the Trench Brothers’ journey includes a research project by local volunteers led by partners Strike a Light (link) to explore the impact the presence of the Indian Military Hospitals in Brighton and the British West Indies training camp at Seaford, had on local communities at the time. Our 18 volunteers will undertake research at The Keep, visit the Chattri Memorial and a tour of Seaford’s historical sites as part of their research which will lead to the creation of new exhibition material.


The Trench Brothers Exhibition will be shown in the extraordinary setting of Newhaven Fort’s Grand Magazine from August to November and will include both artwork and writings by local schools and the findings from the research project, supported by a programme of Family and Public events.


From April we will be working with 6-8 schools across Brighton, Newhaven and Lewes who will undertake a range of workshops and cross-curricular study in preparation for rehearsals in the Autumn term.


Trench Brothers at Brighton Dome will be a large-scale performance of the music theatre work by Julian Joseph and Richard Taylor, under the dome which housed an Indian Military hospital over a 100 years ago. It will involve nearly 300 children, musicians including students from our Julian Joseph Jazz Academy, Indian tabla and Sitar trio and artists Cleveland Watkiss and Damian Thantrey, directed by Clare Whistler and Freya Wynn-Jones. Creative Director Tertia Sefton-Green is expanding her libretto to include many Letter Songs by children who have participated across London and Lancashire since 2014, which will be orchestrated by Michael Betteridge, Matthew King, Jenny Gould, Omar Shahryar.


This promises to be an extraordinary event and tickets will be on sale soon.

Photo: Clive Barda

In partnership with     


Thanks to support from




Trench Brothers Performance Photo: Clive Barda

Theory of Everything Creative

Theory of Everything Creative, our new project with Creative Education Trust, engages their seven secondary Academies across the Midlands and Great Yarmouth in the creation and development of a new song-cycle. It is inspired by CET’s teaching methodology: Knowledge Connected which embraces key concepts of structure, pattern, meaning, performance, human interaction and practice.


In October 2017 20 Year 8 students from each school started the lyric writing process alongside professional writers Derek Martin, Peter Spafford, Harry Oulton and Shey Hargreaves. Each school was allocated a key concept and together they explored basic lyric writing techniques and styles before developing ideas and creating their own lyrics.


These lyrics are now being set to music by different Year 8 and 9 students supported by composers Matthew King, Jenny Gould, Michael Betteridge, John Webb and Richard Taylor. In these sessions, they are exploring different genres so that the students have ownership of their own ideas and input their own musical thoughts.


The finished songs will then be rehearsed by Years 7-9 choirs at each school before they all travel across the country to perform together at Abbeyfield School in Northampton on July 17th 2018. We are really looking forward to hearing what they have created – watch this space for an update!

One Spirit – update March 2018

The last 12 months of One Spirit activities have been very successful. The project has engaged over 200 young people/adults, delivering residencies in HMPs Aylesbury and Highdown and HMYOIs Feltham and Cookham Wood, and continues to work with young people/adults in the community in West, East and South London offering them further opportunities to increase their musical skills and get help and support with resettlement.

Working in custody, in general, has become more challenging over the last 12 plus months due to a number of factors: the shortages in prison staff across the whole sector has made the environment more volatile with increased security issues; the number of young people/adults in prison for violent crimes has risen, increasing the risk of violence within prisons themselves; and amidst the ever increasing need for education providers to succeed in the pay by results format OS has had to work harder to keep a space for arts based work.

A significant achievement for OS at HMYOI Feltham has been securing a separate workshop space in which to deliver its projects. It took almost 6 months, along with additional training, for OS to get the NVQ Hut in Feltham’s workshops area. The move has proved to be very successful and provided learners with a much calmer environment in which to work, and the participants have appreciated this; one young person commented “the environment was very calm and I felt I was able to be myself”. The quality of work, depth of engagement and general behaviour has increased and this has had a clear benefit for all participants. Another young person, frequently involved in fights with other yps, commented “There’s no point getting involved in stupid fights because if I do they won’t bring me down to you in the Hut”.

Projects at HMYOI Cookham Wood have continued to yield great results, with some participants winning Koestler Awards for their work. At HMP Highdown and Aylesbury OS has helped participants to apply entrepreneurial thinking to their musical work and enabled participants to make sense of what they can do with their musical skills once they leave custody.
93% of all OS participants in custody declared they felt better about the future after working with OS; 71% admitted feeling more motivated and self disciplined; 98% declared they felt generally more confident in themselves after working with OS. Of those who highlighted issues with anger and frustration 100% declared that working on the project had helped them to cope with these issues.
“I enjoyed working with the Hackney Music staff as they taught me a lot and helped me develop as a person”.

In the community OS has worked with a range of young people/adults on release, 31 in total, whose needs and progression varies enormously. One young person is about to complete a university degree and go into event management, some are finding their feet in the world of employment or further education and some are still struggling to avoid the influences and pitfalls that led them to prison in the first place. 84% of those on the Through the Gate program have not reoffended in 1+ year of release, 63% are in full or part time employment, 32% are in or have recently completed college/FE.

Article: Charlie Parker, Project Manager, One Spirit


With thanks to:



I Can Sing! Taster Session – 24 March 2018


Do you enjoy singing, dancing and acting?

Come and join HMDT Music for a one-off  I Can Sing! Taster on Saturday 24 March, and experience the excitement of music theatre, led by a fantastic team professional artists.

The morning will offer prospective I Can Sing! students the chance to watch a performance by current students, gain new skills, build confidence and make new friends!

Sessions will include singing, dancing and drama and require no previous experience. I Can Sing! is for ages 5 – 14 and draws on repertoire that includes classic Broadway numbers alongside our original commissions.

What are the timings?

11:30am – 12:30pm – Come and watch current I Can Sing! students in their end of term showing. A fantastic opportunity to see what it is all about!

12:30pm – 1:30pm – Group 1 Taster Session

12:30pm – 2:00pm – Group 2 Taster

We will assign you to a group based upon age and participant numbers, the week of 20 March. Each session will finish with an informal showing to parents so that they can see what the students have been working on!

This sounds great – how do I sign up?

Apply here for a place on the taster day.

Spaces are limited so make your application now. We will get back to you ASAP to confirm your place. The taster session costs £10.00 – payable when you accept your place.

Where does the taster take place?

At HMDT Music’s Saturday Programme in Haggerston School, E2 8LS.

For more information on I Can Sing! and the rest of the Saturday Programme click here.

To discuss I Can Sing! or any other part of the Saturday Programme, please contact the office on 020 8882 8825.

Trench Brothers – Lancashire Tour: An update

The touring Trench Brothers Exhibition has enjoyed a fantastic stay at the Lancaster Maritime Museum and Fylde Gallery and is currently on display at Clitheroe Castle, alongside a programme of family events.

Phillipa & Eva

/ Visitor

Very interesting exhibition which I didn’t know anything about. Very factual and entertaining. Lovely work by the children.

It uses elements of the Trench Brothers project to introduce the context of soldiers from the Indian Army, British West Indies and black British soldiers. It focuses on stories of eight soldiers and shows some of the many responses from children participating in the project through art, creative writing and music.


/ Visitor

A moving exhibition. Well done.

On Remembrance Day itself, over fifty participants took part in a creative exercise where they constructed their own model Sopwith Camels to commemorate the life of Hardit Singh Malik, whose story is told in the exhibition.



/ Visitor

Thank you for this exhibition. My grandfather died at the Neue Chappelle battle, and my great-uncle was shot at dawn, as a deserter. He was 19 and obviously suffering from shell-shock!


The Exhibition will be shown at Newhaven Fort from August 2018. A large-scale commemorative performance of the Trench Brothers music theatre work will take place at Brighton Dome on 17 October 2018.

Fundraising for Music Treehouse

You may have heard about the Music Treehouse, our SEN/D project that runs as part of our Saturday Programme – it’s offered for free but many of the students who desperately need to attend are unable to do so due to the cost of taking a weekly specialist taxi.


We have tried to cover this cost as much as possible but there are still many students that we are unable to help. This is where you come in – we’re asking you to help us provide the transportation that these young musicians need.


Every little helps and please feel free to share the link as much as possible – we’re hoping to meet our goal by Christmas!

You can find out more about the campaign and donate by clicking here.

Aviva Community Fund

We are competing for the Aviva Community Fund and we are through to the public voting stage. In order to secure a place in the final, we need to gather as many votes as possible during the voting period.

What are we hoping to fund?

Music Treehouse (MT) is for SEN/D children who have a wide spectrum of needs. It includes children who are isolated and struggle with issues around communication and interaction, who have profound Autism, difficulties with Mental and Emotional Health and sensory and physical disabilities. MT is a hugely important project for a community of young people and their families who struggle to find out of school activities that are accessible, engaging and life-enhancing. It provides a fun, secure, environment where children can learn and practice vital life skills, and are provided with a safe environment in which to develop their confidence and well-being.


Seeing a child’s face and the pride that they feel when they have the ability to make music is simply exhilarating and the health benefits of the sensory and kinaesthetic nature of music cannot be underestimated. Assisted by a specialist team, they learn to play and interact through creative music composition creating personal, and intricate pieces of music.



However, they really need specialist equipment which fulfils different needs as having the right instruments is hugely important. MT is still in its infancy but is already oversubscribed meaning we desperately need to purchase a collection of specialist instruments to supplement the ones we currently borrow. We currently have no electronic instruments, so can’t properly serve students with severe mobility disabilities and only a very limited range of standard percussion. A £5,000 grant would allow us to purchase a pool of instruments enabling us to create a fully inclusive ensemble and the impact would be immediate for our students.


• Large strengthened drums which students can sit on to feel the vibrations;
• Tuned percussion with specialist mallets to facilitate grip for students with limited dexterity;
• Kaoss Pads and amps for students with limited mobility;
• Specialist non-tuned percussion: bracelet shakers, mark trees, afruches, and soundboards;
• Nuvo clarinets, flutes and pBones: lightweight plastic instruments which can stand a lot of use, and are wonderful for students with more movement and less profound disabilities.


We currently have 40 core students at Music Treehouse, who would greatly benefit from this grant and a reach of over 100 more in collaboration with local special schools who are extremely supportive of the programme:


/ Ickburgh School

My pupils are thrilled to take part. Their enthusiasm is outstanding and they love to tell their friends at school about MT. This has helped build their confidence and discover hidden talents they never thought they had!


The families of children with SEN/D often feel very isolated – the SP has a thriving and supportive community spirit with parents and students from across all programmes forming new friendship groups. The Programme is a place for families to meet other families in similar situations over coffee and cakes in our tuckshop. Likewise, the students not only have the opportunity to socialise with their group but also with the other students at the Programme. This social aspect is hugely beneficial to MT families’ well-being, with our staff always finding time for those who need a helping hand.


Music Treehouse Parent

A really happy environment to learn and have fun. My child so looks forward to attending – thank you for everything!

What we need you to do:

1. Visit our page & register CLICK HERE
2. You will be sent an activation link via email when you register (check spam).
3. Click that link & complete your profile.
4. Return to our page and use the VOTE button – you have TEN (10) votes so please make sure you use all TEN (10) for us!
5. Share this post or our Aviva page with your friends & family, encourage them to register and vote.


What else can I do to help? 

We are also raising money for the Music Treehouse transport fund through GoGetFunding