May 18

#EarBox returns to Studio 3 Gallery next week

Some of the University Music Scholars will be taking a trip to the Studio 3 Gallery in Jarman next week, as the #EarBox series returns on Wednesday 27 May.

postcard-cover1Set amidst the backdrop of Studio 3’s current exhibition, ‘Beautifully Obscene,’ the musical programme presents some heady and expressive arias from several operatic heroines, including Delilah’s epic, aching aria ‘Mon coeur s’ouvre à ta voixfrom Samson & Delilah by Saint-Saens, Eurydice’s lament for her lost love, Orpheus, from Gluck’s Orfeo ed Euridice, the ‘Song for the Moon’ from Dvorak’s Rusalka, and pieces by Mozart and Purcell.

The programme starts at 1.10pm, admission is free. Please note that some of the works in this exhibition contain explicit content – and some of the music is pretty sensual too…

To get you in the mood, here’s the aria by Saint-Saens performed live.


May 15

Tokaido Road photography exhibition at Beach Creative

Part of the ancillary events accompany the Tokaido Road performance coming to the Gulbenkian, Beach Creative in Herne Bay is currently hosting an exhibition of photos by Wynn White.

Wynn White: Pier, New Year’s Morning

Wynn White: Pier, New Year’s Morning

Wynn White is an American fine art black and white photographer and printer living in Japan. A selection of his beautiful images are projected alongside the historic Hiroshige woodblock prints during the chamber opera. A particularly ‘hands on’ photographer, Wynn does all of his own gelatin-silver processing and printing, getting involved in every step of the process. He also uses various historic techniques of printing, including salt, cyanotype, Vandyke, argyrotype and platinum/palladium.

Nihonbashi: Wynn White

Nihonbashi: Wynn White

The exhibition at Beach Creative runs from  Tues 12 – Sun 24 May; admission is free, more details can be found here. Tokaido Road is performed at The Gulbenkian Theatre on Saturday May 23: details online here. Our first Lunchtime Concert this term explores themes of East-meets-West in music for two pianos by Debussy and Ravel with poems read by Nancy Gaffield from her cycle on Friday 22 May at 1.10pm in Colyer-Fergusson Hall performed by Your Loyal Correspondent and Matthew King – details online here.

May 11

Powerful new exhibition in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery: Earthbound Women

Our second exhibition in the new Colyer-Fergusson Gallery space is a powerful, energy-filled series from Canterbury-based collective, Earthbound Women. Entitled Saxon Shore Way: a response to Tokaido Road,  the exhibition explores the historic ancient Roman shoreline from Gravesend to Hastings, and features dramatic visions of different sections of the route in mixed-media format including collage, print, etching and collagraph.

Rainy Day at Reculver: Ruth McDonald

The group describes the exhibition as ‘a palimpsest…modern observations written over the ancient history of the Kent coast,’ with some stunning images capturing the visceral power of the sea at Reculver, a haunting nightscape of the moon low over Whitstable, Harty Ferry at Faversham, the river at Chatham and more. The series marks a particularly Kentish reply to Hiroshige’s ’53 Stations of the Tokaido Road’ to which it responds, continuing the themes of travel and landscape begun in the previous photography exhibition by Hope Fitzgerald.


The exhibition runs until 24 May, and accompanies the performance of the chamber opera Tokaido Road: a journey after Hiroshige which comes to the Gulbenkian on Saturday 23 May (details here). Admission to the exhibition is free, gallery open during normal hours.

Read more about Earthbound Women here: follow in the footsteps of the Romans at Colyer-Fergusson…

May 07

Bring me sunshine: Summer Music Week

Our annual Summer Music Week festival to celebrate the end of another musical year at the University is now published online, with all the details of what’s coming up.

Deal_BandstandRunning from Sunday 7 to Saturday 13 June, the week kicks off with a seaside visit to the Deal Bandstand with the Big Band; some of the singing Music Scholars will present a programme of Operatic Heroines in Love on Monday 8; the Lunchtime Concert on Tuesday 9 from some of this year’s Music Scholars, followed by the Music Awards ceremony; Wednesday sees the Concert and Big Bands coming together in the evening; Thursday features an informal lunchtime performance from the String Sinfonia; on Friday the Music Theatre Society performs on the foyer-stage at lunchtime, whilst in the evening we present our choral commission from composer Matthew King, poet Patricia Debney with projected photos by Phil Ward, performed by the Chamber and Cecilian Choirs; and the week comes to a festive conclusion with the Chorus, Orchestra and Chamber Choir on the Saturday afternoon, followed by cream teas on the lawn and many fond farewells.

summer_music_flowerRelive the memories of last year’s festival on our Pinterest board here: full details of all the events are published online here, or you can collect a brochure for the week’s events from Colyer-Fergusson soon.

Don’t forget to follow @UKCSummerMusic on Twitter in the build-up to and throughout the festival. Bring me sunshine…

May 05

Exploring the world of Hiroshige’s Tokaido Road: new chamber opera comes to Kent

Currently touring the UK after a successful premiere at the Cheltenham Festival last year and its recent London premiere at Milton Court Theatre, we are very pleased to be bringing the chamber opera, Tokaido Road: a journey after Hiroshige, to Kent on Saturday 23 May.


Nancy Gaffield

The chamber opera, an evocative fusion of music, poetry, art, mime and photography comes to the University in a few weeks as part of the University’s fiftieth anniversary celebrating the work of members of the University community; the libretto is written by Nancy Gaffield, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in the School of English, and is based on her own award-winning cycle of poems of the same name. Commissioned by frontier-challenging Okeanos Ensemble, and composed by Nicola LeFanu, the work is inspired by Hiroshige’s 53 Stations of the Tokaido Road, a series of woodblock prints evoking the Japanese landscape and its people along the ancient route linking Edo and Kyoto. The chamber opera sees Hiroshige reflecting on life, love and loss on his journey along the Tokaido Road, unfolding against a backdrop of projected images of both Hiroshige prints as well as photos of modern-day Tokyo.

Hiroshige_ShinagawaThe score combines Western instruments with Japanese sho and koto, and the first half of the performance sees members of Okeanos perform traditional Japanese music.


50th-ribbon-smlCome along The Road when it arrives at the Gulbenkian Theatre on Saturday 23 May; details and tickets here. You can find out more about the chamber opera, including image galleries and audio extracts, here.

May 01

An emotional interpretation of walking: Earthbound Women exhibition at Colyer-Fergusson

Continuing the ancillary events linked to the Tokaido Road opera coming to the Gulbenkian Theatre in May, our second exhibition in the new Colyer-Fergusson Gallery is a response to the Kent landscape, and in particular the historic Saxon Shore Way, by the Canterbury-based artist collective, Earthbound Women. I asked one of its members, Ruth McDonald, about the group and their response to the project.

Tell me about Earthbound Women

We met whilst doing an MA in Fine Art at Canterbury Christ Church University and all have an abiding passion for clay, earth, form and landscape. We are bound to the earth – it defines us.

Julie FramptonWhat was it about the Tokaido Road project in particular that interested you in taking part ?

We were keen to participate in a project that features women in the Arts and were anxious to be involved and give the project our own “take”.

You’ve talked about the exhibition as ‘modern observations written over the ancient history of the Kent coast;’ what have you discovered in preparing for it ?

Initially we explored the Saxon Shore Way together spending time drawing and illustrating the landscape. We then divided the coast up and each took different section. It was fascinating to see how popular the coastal walks are and yet at the same time they do have a desolation when the weather is inclement.

Harty Ferry Ruth McDonaldYour exhibition will explore similar ideas of travel and landscape to Hiroshige’s ‘Tokaido Road:’ is it a Kent-ish version, and why did you choose the Saxon Shore Way in particular ?

We studied Hiroshige’s works and felt that we should study our own landscape in Kent and walk the paths of the Saxon Shore Way. This is a long distance walking route of 257 km named after the line of historic fortifications that defended the Kent Coast at the end of the Roman era. It stretches from Gravesend to Hastings. The range of landscape is tremendous and we wanted to record the changes in the weather and seasons.

What can we expect when your exhibition opens in Colyer-Fergusson on May 9th?

Expect to see a wide range of work in differing styles. One artist has made clay objects from earth gathered on her walks. Another has produced a series of etching and drawings. Some will be accurate observations and other work will have an emotional interpretation of the experience of the walk.

Tracing the Saxon Shore Way by Earthbound Women will be at the Colyer-Fergusson gallery from 9-24 May; admission during normal opening hours, admission free. Find out more about Earthbound Women here.

Apr 29

Celebrating the universal language of music: first-year Music Scholar Faith Chan reflects

The University of Kent has a wonderfully diverse, international community, including many overseas students involved in its music-making; amongst this year’s Music Performance Scholarship students is first-year Faith Chan, from Malaysia, reading Law. I asked Faith about the reasons for her coming to Kent, and about her musical experiences so far this year.

Being an international student is undoubtedly a unique experience – having to adapt to different culture in a foreign country is both eye opening and challenging. Deciding to come to the UK was an easy choice for me – my father completed his tertiary education here and my brother is currently completing his third year in Durham University. The UK is generally a popular choice for university education in Malaysia, and those who have experienced it have always given positive feedback about their time here.

Faith Chan (l) with members of the cello section at the Cathedral Concert

Faith Chan (l) with members of the Orchestra in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral

I chose to read law in the University of Kent because it is very much an intellectually stimulating course – having previously studied both science and humanities subjects I have had a taste of both worlds and I enjoy the mind-twisting challenge that this course provides. Furthermore Kent Law School is a critical law school, offering an exceptional view and approach to law, not just focusing on legal rules and principles. This will help immensely when I return to Malaysia, as the Malaysian Legal System is closely related to the English Legal System, but is by no means identical.

I am particularly enjoying my experience here as a student as my hobbies are catered to very well – as a music scholar I take part in many of the music events organised here in Kent. Music has always been an important part of my life; the symphony orchestra was a huge factor in my choosing to study in this university. In the six months or so I have been here, I have taken part in multiple performances with the Orchestra and String Sinfonia, including being in the orchestra for Verdi’s Requiem in the beautiful Canterbury Cathedral. These are valuable memories I will certainly cherish and I look forward to the many more to come! I am also lucky enough to receive music lessons for my cello-playing right here on campus as part of my music scholarship. It is wonderful to realise how universal the language of music is – it is enjoyed and appreciated similarly all over the world. There is no doubt that music draws people together!

The cello section after the orchestral concert in the Colyer-Fergusson Hall

The cello section after the orchestral concert in the Colyer-Fergusson Hall

Having come close to completing my first year, I truly feel that I will enjoy the rest of the time I have left here in the University of Kent – I have had the chance to meet many different kinds of people and forged many unusual friendships, all while pursuing and fulfilling my passions.

Apr 23

This floating, fleeting world: in rehearsal

As a curtain-raiser to the performance of Tokaido Road, which comes to the Gulbenkian Theatre on 23 May, the lunchtime concert the day before is an exploration of the meeting-point between poetry and music for two pianos, set against a backdrop of some of the Hiroshige prints which inspired both poetry and opera.

Pianists Matthew King and myself, together with poet Nancy Gaffield, part of the Creative Writing team in the School of English and author of the original Tokaido Road cycle of poems, spent yesterday exploring the programme which we have put together, which intersperses music by Debussy, Ravel and Matthew himself with poems from the cycle, which Nancy will be reading. There is some wonderful connectedness between the words and the music – a phrase in a poem is echoed by a rising melodic shape; the opening arc of a poem emerges out of a slowly-dying piano chord; a cluster-sonority echoes the tone of one of the Hiroshige prints which is projected above the performers. We spent several hours immersed in floating words and chords in the darkened concert-hall, playing with moving between music and poem.

The concert will take place on Friday 22 May at 1.10pm, admission is free, more details here: come and immerse yourself in time-out-of-place with music, poetry and print.

Apr 18

Picture-perfect: #walkSwaleMedway exhibition graces new gallery space

It’s with an heraldic fanfare of trumpets that we’re delighted to announce that the new Colyer-Fergusson Gallery space is now open, with its first exhibition being the evocative and scenic #walkSwaleMedway project by Faversham-based artist, Hope Fitzgerald

The upper balcony now hosts an array of jewel-like images in beautiful frames, inspired by Hope’s walking project, and will be on display for two weeks until Friday 1 May. The exhibition is also the first of several ancillary events for the Tokaido Road chamber opera coming to the Gulbenkian next month, which explores similar ideas of travel and landscape. Hope’s exhibition is a response to, and is inspired by, her walking around the Swale area; read more about the project here.



Admission is free: come and lose yourself in the landscape of the county in Colyer-Fergusson. IdeasTest#walkSwaleMedway is sponsored by Arts Council funding via Ideas Test.

Apr 17

Contemporary opera coming to the Gulbenkian: Swanhunter

Contemporary opera makes the first of several appearances at the Gulbenkian next month; before Tokaido Road comes on May 23, Jonathan Dove’s Swanhunter swoops into the theatre on May 1 and 2.

swanhunterAn Opera North production composed to a libretto by Alasdair Middleton, the opera draws on the Finnish folkore epic, the Kalevala, in which Lemminkäinen travel to the icy north to face the Devil’s Elk and the Swan on Death’s River.

Told using puppetry in collaboration with The Wrong Crowd, the opera (written in 2009 with young audiences in mind) is billed as being ‘as much for adults as it is for children.’ Dove is the accessible end of contemporary music, as his beguiling choral anthems and rumbustious The Passing of the Year attest, and his prolific output includes music written for community music-making as much as for professionals.

”We’re really thrilled to be bringing contemporary opera for family audiences to the Gulbenkian,” enthuses the theatre’s creative producer, Mairi Coyle. ”Both Opera North and the Wrong Crowd have impressive international reputations in the fields of music theatre and the fact that they’ve come together with a top British composer to create such an inventive fusion of opera, puppetry and live action is really exciting and we’re proud to be part of it.”

Performances at the Gulbenkian are Friday 1 May at 7.00pm, and Saturday 2 May at 2pm; tickets and details here, or flick through the interactive resource pack for teachers and families here.

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