Trench Brothers: an ode to whitewashed war heroes – an article by Kamila Shamsie

Ahead of HMDT Music’s Trench Brothers premier on Wednesday 17th October at Brighton Dome, award-winning Kamila Shamsie has written this wonderful article about not only the history behind the project but also its relevance for today.

Read her article HERE.

New Whole School Project Launch – National Commemoration Days

National Commemoration Days : Armistice Centenary 2018

HMDT Music presents a unique opportunity to commemorate the centenary of Armistice Day with a one day whole school ever offering a series of activities and guest visits. The event is inspired by its successful Trench Brothers project commemorating the contribution of ethic minority soldiers in the First World War.

The day includes:

  • Artefacts handling sessions looking at weapons, uniforms and memorabilia from the First World War;
  • An Indian Soldier costumed interpreter sharing his experiences of life in the trenches on the Front Line;
  • Artist workshops to create a visual and creative response to the First World War;
  • Singing sessions to learn First World War songs;
  • Online toolkits to research specific soldiers leading to students writing Letter Home from the Front;
  • Access to the Trench Brothers Education Zone offering contextual information and 90 lesson plans and activities linked to the curriculum;
  • A commemoration event bringing together all the elements explored during the day.


Available 5 – 16 November 2018.


Cost: FROM £1,500 Dependent on school size.

To book your place contact: or call HMDT Music on 020 8882 8825

I Can Sing! Taster Session – 22 Sept 2018


Do you enjoy singing, dancing and acting?

Come and join HMDT Music for a one-off  I Can Sing! Taster on Saturday 22 September, and experience the excitement of music theatre, led by our fantastic team of 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?

The taster students are invited to join the first session of the term (22 September) with our I Can Sing! Groups according to their school year.

Minis (Years 1 & 2) – 09:50am – 11:25am

Junior 1 (Years 3 & 4) – 10:00am – 12:45am

Junior 2 (Year 5 & 6) – 10:00pm – 1:45pm

Seniors (Year 7 +) 09:00am – 12:45pm

This sounds great – how do I sign up?




Spaces are limited so make your application now. We will get back to you ASAP to confirm your place. The taster session costs £20.00 – payable when you accept your place.

If you sign up for the term the taster fee will be deducted from the first term’s fee!

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.

Julian Joseph Jazz Academy – Summer Courses


10.00AM – 5.00PM  at Bridge Academy, E2 8BA


A unique, four-day course designed for students aged 9 – 14, who want to learn jazz – or more about jazz.


Using the methodology developed at the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy, students will be introduced to the rich history and styles of Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Herbie Hancock and Charles Mingus through the focused study of a small number of classic jazz recordings. They will be taught how to access, appreciate and perform this great music through a series of inspiring workshops – and make firm friends in the process!


The course culminates in a relaxed and enjoyable performance at the end of the last day, open to all family and friends.


For more detailed information about the course, click HERE.


The full four-day course costs £199.00  – payable when you accept the place.

Discounted fees £179.00 available for students who attend Bridge Academy, the Jazz Blues Course or the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy.


10.00AM – 5.00PM  at Bridge Academy, E2 8BA


Come and join us for a special four-day course focusing on the music and styles of Duke Ellington and Count Basie. Students will learn the rich history behind the music; gain experience playing as part of a large jazz ensemble; build confidence reading Big Band charts and meet like-minded musicians in the process.


Each day will be split into three sessions:

  • Full Workshops
  • Sectionals
  • Jam Sessions


The four days will culminate with a relaxed performance for all friends and family.


The course will be at the home of JJJA, Bridge Academy, E2 8BA, and is specifically for sax, trumpet, trombone and rhythm section players (approx. grade 5 +, no audition required) though places are limited (especially for rhythm section players), so book now to reserve a place and avoid disappointment.


The full four-day course costs £179.00  – payable when you accept the place.

Discounted fees £159.00 available for students who attend Bridge Academy, the Jazz Blues Course or the Julian Joseph Jazz Academy.









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: