Feb 22

Reflections on Cellular Dynamics

From the meeting of music and science in the recent Cellular Dynamics lunchtime concert, pianists Dan Harding and Matthew King, with projections by Dr Dan Lloyd in the School of Biosciences.

 

Images © School of Biosciences / Dr Wei-Feng Zue

Feb 22

Scholars’ Spotlight: Zaneta Balsevic

Continuing the series profiling Music Scholarship students at the University of Kent. This week, first-year studying Music, Zaneta Balsevic.


My interest in music was well established from the age of 11. This interest came during a local school concert where I saw a group of string players perform. This had an immediate impact on me and soon after I convinced my parents to register me for the local music school, which became my daily passion. I began to appreciate the power and meaning that music has as well as develop my performance skills on the violin. In my native country, Lithuania, I studied in a music school for four years before moving to the UK. There, I was part of a string ensemble, with whom we performed regularly in music school concerts as well as national festivals. A year later, I became part of a piano trio and in 2010 we won 2nd place in the Third Annual Dainius Trinkunas Junior Chamber Music Festival at the Lithuanian National Academy of Music and Theatre. We also performed in numerous other competitions and concerts.

zaneta-bAs I grew older, I became increasingly captivated by my instrument. I have learnt that a successful performance requires many challenges to be overcome such as gaining high self-confidence and learning to communicate musically with the audience.

Since I moved to the UK in 2012, my goal has been tightly focused; to study music at a highly respected music institution. I believed that a conservatoire education would enable me to become a successful professional violinist. I also believed it is a great place to meet like-minded musicians and develop ensemble skills through playing in chamber ensembles and orchestras. This motivated me to prepare for an audition and as a result I gained place to study Violin Performance at Trinity Laban Conservatoire. Yet, I soon realised that university is a more suitable place for me as a musician and a student. I believe that having gained an academic degree it would enable me to be more flexible with regards to my career options, while being part of orchestra and chamber groups, therefore helping me to developing equally as a student and a musician.

I was a member of the Musica Nova Academy, where I participated in various concerts often taking place in St. Steven’s Church and the Rossotrudnichestvo Centre in Kensington. For a year, I have been a part of trio ensemble in my music school. With the trio, we have performed a tango piece Primavera Portena and Ave Maria by Astor Piazzolla. This is also when I passed my grade 8 in violin with distinction.

One of my greatest performance experiences was at the international music competition in Bulgaria ‘Zvezdna Dga’ where I performed Tchaikovsky’s Melodie. I was awarded first place in the category of solo classical performance. This experience helped me to overcome my greatest fears and to realise the importance of the performer as a communicator who isn’t afraid to imprint their own interpretation of the music that they play.

In addition to playing at ‘Music Nova’ I have also fully supported my secondary school music department in many ways. I was a member of the school Orchestra and I also lead the string orchestra and played in the band for a musical last year. In addition to this, I led a sectional of 60 primary school students in the school’s annual ‘Primary School Choral and Orchestral Day’. I believe that working with less-experienced musicians has helped to strengthen my communication, leadership and social skills and I enjoyed acting as a musical role model for younger musicians in the school.

I have greatly enjoyed participation in a music competition ‘Stars of the Albion’ in February 2014 and have won a second place in the category of solo violin classical music.

Visiting the University of Kent, I was astonished by this beautiful place, course, and people. This led to a decision to study here. Currently, I participate in University Choir and Orchestra (Medway), Chamber Music Forum and City of Rochester Symphony Orchestra.

Feb 13

#EarBox series brings Chamber Choir to Studio 3 Gallery Fri 24 Feb

The #EarBox concert series bringing music and visual art together continues with a visit to Studio 3 Gallery from the University Chamber Choir on Friday 24 February at 1.10pm.

Set against the backdrop of Soft Formalities, the gallery’s new exhibition, the Chamber Choir will unveil a choral programme in the venue’s sonorous acoustic, ranging from Purcell to Alec Roth, taking in madrigals by Hassler and Lassus, and works by Tavener, Peter Warlock and Alexander Campkin.

The new exhibition explores layered complexity in a series of paintings, drawings, sculptures and ceramics, and the music provides a similar, sonic exploration in line and colour, from the drama of Purcell to the ravishing hues of Alexander Campkin, including the dramatic simplicity of Tavener’s The Lamb and a veritable textural tour de force for double choir in Lithuanian. There is also a rare opportunity to hear a piece by the Canadian female composer, Jean Coulthard.

The Chamber Choir at Canterbury Cathedral in December 2016

The event is free, and starts at 1.10pm; come and experience the gallery’s latest display with an astonishing aural landscape from the Baroque to the contemporary. Find out more about the event hereand read more about Soft Formalities at the gallery here.

Feb 13

Scholars’ Spotlight: Fleur Sumption

Continuing the series profiling Music Scholarship students at the University of Kent. This week, first year Art History student, Fleur Sumption.


Ever since I can remember, it seems that constantly being surrounded by music of some kind has had a massive impact on my life. Whether it was my Grandad taking me to various symphonies or being sat as a baby on the lap of the drummer in my Mum’s Jazz Band that she ran. Initially, I was encouraged to learn the piano, and for a child who could rarely sit still, when I got to about 8 years old it was decided that I’d rather take up the alto sax and have singing lessons instead.

fleur-s-newMy introduction to the world of the Theatre started at age 10, when I was picked for the children’s choir in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Adelphi Theatre in the West End. Having been “bitten by the performing bug”, this marked the start of many musical possibilities. I then went on to participate in Bill Kenwright’s touring production of Joseph in the following year, and appeared on Children in Need as part of the Joseph Cast. In 2012, my passion for singing increased when I was in the English National Opera cast of Carmen at the London Coliseum and was swiftly followed by recording Andrew Lloyd Webber’s children’s recording of Cats with The Really Useful Company.

Closer to home, I frequently participated in Music Festivals in Essex, winning classes across the seven years when I competed. In 2015 this lead me to be named Havering Young Musician of the Year, through the annual competition ran by the Rotary. I have also previously been awarded the Jacamar Shield for outstanding performance, having reached the Regional Finals of the Rotary competition. At home, I am a member of Firebirds, a local theatre group, being Cast as Martha in our production of the Secret Garden in 2014, and the Baker’s Wife in our 2016 production of Into the Woods– the latter of the two won many local awards, including “Best Performance by a person aged 18 and under” for my portrayal of the Baker’s Wife.

At my Secondary School and Sixth Form, The Coopers’ Company and Coborn School, I was able to complete my ABRSM Grade 8 for Singing, and also my Music Theatre Diploma. Throughout my years there, I have been fully involved in the music scene, being able to perform with the Symphonic Wind Band at the Mansion House for the new Lord Mayor each year, having travelled to Birmingham for the Music for Youth Finals, and played and sang around Italy in our bi-annual music trip. In my last year at Sixth Form, I was invited to perform at prestigious company events and gigs, including a wedding at the top of the Gherkin in London!

At University, I have been lucky enough to gain a place in the University Chamber Choir (pictured above) which is a huge privilege when you see the other musical talent in the University. Also taking part in Chorus and the Cecilian Choir, my musical diary is always bursting with events and rehearsals. I really love that there are so many wonderful musical opportunities here, and I am extremely excited to see how my musical journey will progress at the University of Kent.

Feb 05

Review: triumph for Musical Theatre Society in ‘Urinetown’

Hats off to the Musical Theatre Society for a terrific production of Urinetown at the Marlowe Theatre Studio in Canterbury this weekend; a hard-working ensemble were led by a strong cast, delivering an energy-filled and very physical performance, with some wonderful comic touches and some genuinely touching moments.

Soprano Francesca Charlton had great charm and vocal presence as Hope Cladwell, whilst Charlie Hunt was outstanding as a deliciously villainous Caldwell B Cladwell; Matt Cooke was a delight as Bobby Strong, ranging from rabble-rouser to vulnerable with great skill, whilst Charley Tench dominated the stage as Miss Pennywise – she brought a hugely expressive face to the production, striding around like a colossus whenever she was present. Philip Hunt was an engaging narrator in the role of Officer Lockstock, whilst Anna Reith played Little Sally with beguiling charm, the fulcrum character representing the meeting-point between the downtrodden citizenry and the money-grabbing powers of the upper world. And a tip of the hat to Daniel Hemming, who played several roles (including Pop Strong) and was a scene-stealer throughout the performance, with comic timing and a devilish sense of mischief that was a delight to behold.

Charley Tench (centre) dominates the stage as Miss Pennywise

Daniel Hemming and Matt Cooke as Pop and Bobby Strong

Francesca Charlton as Hope Cladwell

Charlie Hunt in devilish form as the villainous Caldwell B Cladwell

Anna Reith as Little Sally with Matt Cooke

Directors Ben Chamberlain and Sarah Butt demonstrated a great eye for tableaux and some fabulous ensemble pieces, and the set design and costumes showed real inventive flair; there were occasional salient nods to the current political climate too, plenty of in-character interaction with the audience both before the performance began and during the interval, which brought us closer to the production, and a few in-jokes to appeal to the local crowd.

Supported by a tight-knit and musically agile pit band under the baton of Jack Gray, this was a top-notch production greeted rightly with terrific applause from a packed house; bravo to everyone involved!

Main images courtesy of the Musical Theatre Society

 

Jan 24

Where science meets beauty: new exhibition in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery

Today marks the official opening of our new exhibition here in Colyer-Fergusson, an exploration of beauty in the scientific environment from the School of Biosciences.

img_1256-copyCurated by Dr Dan Lloyd, the collection of images, each generated through engagement with current research, showcases the beauty in scientific data.
The exhibition aims to shed some light on laboratory life and the process of discovery in the biological sciences.

img_1251-copyEvery image shown has a story to tell, and explores cutting-edge research in the fields of biomedical science, biochemistry, genetics and biotechnology. In addition to introducing new and interesting concepts at the forefront of scientific research, the exhibition aims to encourage the viewer to explore their own perspectives on art within the context of the biological sciences.

img_1254The exhibition forms the backdrop to an exciting lunchtime concert on Weds 1 February in the concert-hall, Cellular Dynamics, which brings together science and music in image-projection and time-lapse photography, accompanied by live music for piano by Philip Glass and Tarik O’Regan, and Gavin Bryars’ My First Homage for two pianos, performed by Dan Harding and Matthew King (details here).

Admission is free, and the exhibition is on display during building opening hours. Find out more about the images drawn from the Stacey Collection here. The exhibition is supported by Creative Campus.creative-campus-logo

Jan 23

Flushed with success: MTS presents Urinetown

Stand by for the energetic trailer from the Musical Theatre Society for Urinetown, as the Society returns to the Marlowe Studio in style next week.

urinetown

Originally opening in 2001, the original show parodies such august musicals as Les Miserables and We Will Rock You, and was inspired by a pay-per-use toilet, going on to win three Tony awards (the show, not the toilet…).

The production at the Marlowe Studio takes place on Friday 3rd February at 8pm, and on Saturday 4th February with a matinee at 3pm and evening performance at 8pm.

Splash out on tickets online here.

Jan 23

In memoriam: Veljo Tormis

Sad to learn over the weekend of the death of the Estonian composer, Veljo Tormis, at the age of eighty-six.

Choral master: Veljo Tormis (1930-2017)

Choral master: Veljo Tormis (1930-2017)

His extensive output of choral music is imbued with his love of native Estonian folksong, in which, within the space of a few bars, with notes carefully scattered here and there, he evokes landscapes and emotional spaces far beyond the often miniaturist scale of his colourful choral writing.

We performed his Spring Sketches last year, an exquisite series of tiny portraits of the season for upper-voices. The evocative opening of the St John’s Day Songs, building upwards to short fragments of melody echoing between the upper voices, captures this perfectly; the robust rhythm underpinning Bridge of Song illustrates his use of dancing rhythm inherited from his native musical tradition. The skittish, semi-chanted St Catherine’s Day Songs for upper voices evokes an almost ritualistic scene, gradually becoming more intense as static chords build to a feverish cry. Here’s the intimate On hilissuvi (It is later summer) painting the colours of the season:

 

But it’s the wonderful Laulud pulmades opitud (Songs learned at weddings) that perhaps encapsulates his music; hypnotic, rhythmic, dancing, powerful yet tinged with a wisp of melancholy.

 

A teacher at the Tallinn Music School, Tormis included Arvo Pärt amongst his students. As Tormis once remarked, ‘It is not I who makes use of folk music, it is folk music that makes use of me.’ His choral legacy stands as a testament both to the energy and power of folk music and to his exquisitely crafted choral writing.

Jan 16

Scholars’ Spotlight: Tom Wust

Continuing the series profiling some of our University Music Performance Scholarship students here at Kent. This week, reeds specialist studying Business and Management, Tom Wust.


As a kid growing up in a family of musicians and wannabe footballers, my ambitions in life were simple: become Manchester United’s record goal scorer (cue the booing from Manchester City fans!) and to play the piano as well my Dad. And in the present day, I still can’t play the piano as well as my dad, and the whole Manchester United thing is looking unlikely as I’m at university down here at Kent; but heigh-ho, life goes on!

The biggest inspiration for me to become a musician was my Dad. He used to give me piano lessons and try and get me started early, but I just couldn’t hack it. This didn’t stop me learning what all the white and black keys meant, which meant whenever we did music lessons in primary school, I was the expert as I could play an F on a keyboard without having the note names written on in whiteboard marker pen. I may have come across to my peers as a piano playing virtuoso, but I knew I was a million light-years away from being the next Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. At this stage in my life I was still very keen on football, and played for my primary school and a local club.

cheltenham-sax-picChoosing a secondary school presented some opportunities to fulfil one of my two ambitions. One of my options was Abraham Darby Academy, a performing arts and business enterprise specialist academy. Their flagship concert band, called the ‘Showband’ had recently returned from Carnegie Hall, New York, and an opportunity like that would have been too good to turn down. I started year 7 at Abraham Darby Academy and was inspired to reach the standard needed for the Showband. I began my first clarinet lessons with the head of music, Rachel Morton, and quickly progressed up through the various ensembles the academy had to offer. The Megaband was the first ensemble I was a part of, where you needed to pass your grade one to enter. Next was the Friday Band, which – you guessed it – rehearsed on a Friday after school. This was an intermediate band with students of around grade 2/3 to grade 7 standards playing. In addition to the concert bands, I was invited to pick up a tenor saxophone and play with the Junior Jazz Band. It was from there where I progressed even further, passing an audition for the Showband and the Senior Jazz Band on 3rd clarinet and baritone saxophone respectively.

As clarinet was my principle instrument, I was trained to play classically. The moment I picked up a saxophone, all of that changed. I was told to forget nearly everything I had learned on the clarinet and soon enough I rebelled against my initial training and became totally engrossed with playing jazz. I would always be willing to improvise in the Jazz Bands, and in year 12 would be invited to be the musical director of the Junior Jazz Band, helping classically trained saxophonists and brass players to find their way in the world of jazz and all it had to offer. I achieved grade 8 saxophone with distinction in year 10 after just 3 years of playing, grade 8 clarinet with distinction in year 11 and grade 8 jazz saxophone with distinction in year 13 to round off my time at the Academy.

Performing at Birmingham Town Hall

Performing at Birmingham Town Hall

Music at Abraham Darby has given me many moments I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life. Playing for the Queen at RAF Cosford for her Diamond Jubilee, representing England in the Palaces of Westminster for the Commonwealth Carnival of Music, playing in Symphony Hall five times, winning Gold at the World Music Contest in the Netherlands, playing as a soloist for Prince Edward, and performing in the Royal Albert Hall just to name some.

Tom (centre) with the woodwind section of the Symphony Orchestra

Tom (centre) with the woodwind section of the Symphony Orchestra

I was very happy to learn of the exciting opportunities that music at the University of Kent presents. Playing in an orchestra was something on my musical bucket list that I hadn’t achieved thus far, and at the end of my first term I was part of the ‘Sounding Shakespeare’ concert with the University Symphony Orchestra, which was a very enjoyable experience. And with Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony to be performed in Canterbury Cathedral in term 2, I have plenty more to get my teeth in to and enjoy! I study Business and Management at Medway, but making the trip over to Canterbury to perform with the Concert Band, Big Band, Symphony Orchestra and of course the wonderful General Harding’s Tomfoolery is always the highlight of my week – I’m looking forward to times ahead with the Music Department at Kent.

sdr

Tom (wearing his DJ) playing with Tomfoolery on the foyer-stage


Read profiles of other Scholars here.

Jan 13

New What’s On season now launched

With an heraldic fanfare, we’re delighted to say that our new What’s On season is now available to view online, with a mouth-watering programme of events to see you through to July.

As usual, we’ve performances in the majestic surroundings of Canterbury Cathedral with the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra in Tchaikovsky and Puccini for the annual Colyer-Fergusson concert, and the Chamber Choir and Ensemble will fill the Crypt with Fauré’s evocative Requiem in a new chamber edition. The Concert and Big Bands return in March with a dazzling evening of concert band classics and big band swing, and the Musical Theatre Society is back in action too. CantiaQuorum brings its usual eclectic and innovative approach to programming with a new series of concerts, and our popular Lunchtime Concert series ranges from the shores of Scotland to the heady sensuality of Argentinian tango.

A new collaboration with the School of Biosciences forms the backdrop to a concert bringing together live music with beautiful images from its cutting-edge research, which will also be exhibiting in the Colyer-Fergusson gallery throughout the spring term; and there’s a look ahead to warmer weather and seaside pleasures with events to come during our annual Summer Music Week festival in June.

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Image: Molly Hollman

Take a look at all these events and more on our online page here, and download the new season brochure here. We look forward to welcoming you through the doors of Colyer-Fergusson and to our performances elsewhere over the coming months!

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