Nov 19

Mugging up: Coldstream Guards in concert

Last Saturday there was a fantastic concert by the Band of the Coldstream Guards.

Coldstream02As expected the band played with military precision, and there were some virtuosic solos from all the sections, including an stunning clarinettist. A group of them even dressed up in 18th century costume and used original instruments (including a serpent) to play a march which Mozart had written for the band and then used in the Marriage of Figaro.

Colsdtream01A great evening and Sue and Sophie now have regimental mugs as a memento! [Photos, please ?! Ed.]

Sue Wanless

Nov 17

Image Gallery: CantiaQuorum launches

As the Devil danced away over the hill with Joseph the Soldier in tow at the end of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale on Friday night, our new resident ensemble, CantiaQuorum, danced into being at the end of its inaugural concert,


Formed from top-flight professional musicians based in Kent but often to be seen free-lancing with several London orchestras, Friday night’s concert combined Stravinsky’s morality play with a second half of Walton’s Facade, complete with guest narrators. Posy Walton grinned and guiled as the oily, preening Devil, as well as giving robust earthiness to Joseph in the Stravinsky, and clearly relished switching between characters.

The ensemble returns in February, this time with a programme of Baroque music.

Thanks to Matt Wilson for the photographs from the afternoon rehearsal.

Images © Matt Wilson / University of Kent

Nov 06

Dance with the Devil: CantiaQuorum evening concert to feature guest narrators

After a sizzling lunchtime concert on Wednesday from three members of CantiaQuorum, our new ensemble-in-residence launches formally on Friday 14 November with Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale and Walton’s Façade – and some very special guests.

Wednesday’s curtain-raising lunchtime concert saw trumpeter Alex Caldon, violinist Alexandra Reid and pianist Matthew King in a dynamic programme, including the little-known Trio by Eric Ewazen which combined elements of rustic Copland with the energetic drive of Bernstein. Violinist Alexandra Reid demonstrated an almost balletic grace and poise in a chiaroscuro instrumental rendition of Bach’s Erbarme Dich, matched by peerless lyricism from Alex on trumpet. Matthew King then turned composer in an encore written especially for the occasion, Tango, which swaggered and sashayed in dazzling and robust twists and turns around the players in a bewitching take on the Argentinian dance, which(quite rightly) brought the house down.

Click to view

Click to view

The evening concert on 14th November brings devilish entertainment as the full ensemble will unfold Stravinsky’s pin-sharp morality tale of a soldier who sells his violin to the Devil in return for a book that offers visions of the future and lavish riches – but there’s a catch… And there’s a special element to the Walton, as the narrators for Façade are drawn from the local and the University community, including Director of Music at Canterbury Cathedral, David Flood, the Chief Executive of Canterbury City Council, Colin Carmichael, fourth-year Drama student and Music Scholar, Emma Murton and Professor Keith Mander; and whom would one ask to deliver the ‘Scotch Rhapsody ?’ Why, none other than our lovely Music Administrator, Sophie Meikle, whose dulcet Glaswegian tones will lend extra relish to Sitwell’s verse…

If Wednesday’s lunchtime concert was anything to go by, the evening concert on the 14th is going to be unforgettable; and there’s even a glass of wine afterwards and an opportunity to meet the players. Make sure you’re there…

To whet your appetites, here’s the fleet-footed Devil’s Dance.

Tickets and further details about the concert here: and read an interview with Alex Caldon about the formation of CantiaQuorum here.

Nov 06

A new Dawn: the new Alumni Chamber Choir

An exciting new project this year is the development of Invicta Voices, a Choir formed from University alumni and former Chamber Choir members under the direction of last year’s student conductor, Matt Bamford. The Choir met for the second time earlier this week, and here’s what Matt had to say.

This week saw the second rehearsal of Invicta Voices, a chamber choir formed of University of Kent Alumnus. The choir, who are resident in London, meet bi-weekly and explore a wide range of choral music from Byrd and Hassler right the way through to more contemporary music from Gjeilo and Whitacre. The idea for an alumni choir first came about after discussions that many members of last year’s choir were graduating and moving to London and wanted to carry on singing together. The establishing of the choir has fallen hand in hand with the University’s 50th anniversary year and the choir are looking forward to our inaugural concert in the Colyer-Fergusson Hall next year.

On song: Invicta Voices

On song: Invicta Voices

Our first rehearsal was surrounded by a buzz of excitement and also nerves – not knowing who would turn up, whether the ‘hurricane’ weather would delay people, would people find the venue, do we have enough music… As people arrived it was a case of saying hello to people we had never met and also people who we may not have seen for over four or five years. The most surreal moment came as we sang Barnum’s Dawn. The colour of the piece really suited the sound that the choir made and one of the members commented how strange it was to be singing with ‘familiar faces’ once again. This is one of the most fantastic things about an alumni choir – each member has now carved out, or is in the process of carving out their career and the next steps of their lives yet when we come together and sing we can take a step back to university life whilst looking forward to our upcoming concerts as a newly formed choir.

During our second rehearsal things really took off as we spent two hours getting through as much repertoire as we possibly could. New pieces for all included Ola Gjeilo’s Northern Lights. The choir had the confidence to really sing through the colourful harmony and our ‘choir sound’ began to identify itself. A real excitement also came as we sang through all of Barnum’s Dawn a capella for the first time.

We are incredibly excited to be officially launching the choir at our inaugural concert in March. The opportunity to return to Canterbury and sing in the fantastic Colyer-Fergusson will be a very special occasion for all those involved. Including those who fundraised for the hall in the early stages but are yet to see the new building. With a wide range of repertoire to explore before then, the hard work can now commence.

Oct 28

What is it good for ? Oh What A Lovely War coming soon

Continuing the commemoration of the centenary of World War I, the Music Theatre and T:24 Drama Societies come together for a production of Oh, What A Lovely War! from 19th-21st November.

Click to view

Click to view

Kat Edmonds

Kat Edmonds

‘I’m particularly looking forward to seeing the new spin that UKC MTS and T24 Drama Society will bring to this classic production!’ enthuses Katharine Edmonds, Publicity Officer for the Music Theatre Society, almost beside herself with excitement about the project. ‘The collaboration between the two societies is very exciting in itself and I can’t wait for the song and dance numbers! People should come and see the show simply because it’s going to be a lot of fun, and if that’s not enough reason then it’s also extremely topical right now, it being the centenary of WW1. It’s a great opportunity to reconsider our history and get to experience a show that will make the audience feel just as involved in the action!’

The production comes to the Gulbenkian Theatre, tickets and further details can be found online here, and you can follow the production on Twitter @OWALW.

Join up quick: it’ll be all over by Christmas…

Oct 22

New ensemble-in-residence set to launch: interview with Alex Caldon

This year, we are very excited to be launching our ensemble-in-residence, the exotically-named CantiaQuorum under the auspices of trumpeter and musician extraordinaire, Alex Caldon. With two concerts looming as part of the launch, I forced the frenetically-busy Alex into a small corner of the Gulbenkian Cafe at the sharp end of a croissant, and asked him about what’s in store…

Tell me about the name!
CantiaQuorum – The ensemble has its roots in Canterbury. I was keen that the tag for our ensemble should reflect the gravitas inspired by the city’s immense historical importance. From the late 2nd Century, Durovernum Cantiacorum was the civitas capital of Kent. The Roman settlement developed around AD43. A twist on the original Roman name for the city brought me to CantiaQuorum.

What’s the idea behind setting up the ensemble?
I have lived in East Kent for 10 years and worked as a professional musician in London throughout. As much as I love the commute (!?) and London (in some ways) I was desperate to show the denizens of Canterbury that, well, most of the wonderful musicians they travel to see in London orchestras, actually live in Kent! I am very proud to say that we have the very best of the capital’s musicians in our Canterbury ensemble. All of our members are orchestral players and soloists of the highest order. But not at the Proms, playing Rule Britannia, or on Saturday night telly backing Strictly hopefuls, but here, in the astonishing concert-hall right next door playing fantastic and fun programmes of great music. And they are yours to get to know and enjoy!

Conductor Alex Caldon with leader of CantiaQuorum, Alexandra Reid

Conductor Alex Caldon with leader of CantiaQuorum, Alexandra Reid

What makes this ensemble distinctive?
CQ has a unique make-up. They are all my friends. That’s essentially it. But, luckily for you I’m terribly choosey. And very lucky.

You’re launching your residency with Walton and Stravinsky, which looks exciting! Why that programme?
When I was 16, and at the Junior department of the Royal Academy of Music, a few friends and I decided to put on a concert! Facade with Posy Walton in fact. This concert, a sell-out at Lauderdale House in Highgate, London was formative in my outlook as a musician. We had a ball basically!..and lots of rehearsals. It’s a seriously tough piece! We were so intent on nailing Facade that it was literally an hour before the concert that we realised we needed another piece for the programme. Dan Bates, another friend of ours was doing a short programme of oboe pieces in the first half but there was definitely something lacking. Backstage with little time to discuss we decided to play an improvised work for the Facade ensemble. Infant became a 3-movement improvised work. We did it. And Facade was greatly appreciated!
As for the Stravinsky. I was lucky enough to play the Soldier’s Tale in a unique production at the Old Vic in 2006. The production was a joint effort between the Old Vic and the National Theatre of Bagdad!? And the text of the piece was presented in both Farsi and English. Hence, lots of rehearsal. And that before the director had decided that the musicians should play the entire work from memory! Totally incredibly. The conductor, Robin O’Neill, was thankfully fantastic, and extremely patient throughout.
It’s a wonderful piece, and I feel extremely qualified to say that. So do come along and be blown away by one of the great composers of all time.

50th-ribbon-smlCantiaQuorum bursts into life with a free lunchtime concert on Wednesday 5 November at 1.10pm, with the formal evening concert launching the ensemble on Friday 14 November; more details about both events here.

Oct 17

Forthcoming concerts round-up: Trevor Pinnock and Nova Music Ensemble

A busy few weeks ahead; tonight’s concert sees period-instrument pioneer and Honorary Graduate Trevor Pinnock bringing an all-Bach recital to Colyer-Fergusson as part of our fiftieth-anniversary celebrations; next weekend, we are delighted to be welcoming Nova Music Opera to the hall for their concert as part of this year’s Canterbury Festival in a double-bill of contemporary chamber opera by Stephen McNeff and Cecilia McDowall.

And as October ends with a flourish, the start of November also marks the launch of our ensemble-in-residence, CantiaQuorum, in a pair of concerts featuring music by Stravinsky, Walton, Bach and Copland.

Plenty to console us as the clocks go back next weekend; for tickets and further details, see all that’s happening on our What’s On guide here.

Here’s composer Stephen McNeff talking about his chamber opera Prometheus Drowned, coming to us next weekend.


Oct 13

Wheel keep a welcome: aboard the Kent Wheel

Here at Music Matters, your loyal correspondent is of course utterly dedicated to bringing you all the latest news from Colyer-Fergusson, heading fearlessly off in pursuit of the hottest gossip and most recent events.

In this spirit of dashing journalism, your loyal correspondent bravely set foot aboard the Kent Wheel yesterday, and was lofted into the skies over the University campus, armed with only a smartphone and an indomitable spirit, ready to undergo the most testing of physical hardships just to bring you, gentle Reader, another exciting, white-knuckle experience courtesy of the Music department.

50th-ribbon-smlOn to the next one…

Oct 09

Bach banquet with acclaimed pioneer next week

Internationally-acclaimed harpsichordist Trevor Pinnock brings an all-Bach programme to Colyer-Fergusson Hall next Friday, 17th October, at 7.30pm.

Image: Peer Lindgreen

Image: Peer Lindgreen

A former choirboy at Canterbury Cathedral and pupil at Simon Langton School, Trevor was awarded an Honorary Doctorate in Music by the University in 1995, and comes to Kent next week as part of its year-long fiftieth anniversary celebrations including honorary music graduates. As a harpsichordist and conductor, he is renowned for his pioneering performances on historical instruments with The English Concert, the orchestra which he founded in 1972 and led for the next thirty years.

50th-ribbon-smlNext week’s concert includes the Toccata in E minor, the Chromatic Fantasia and Fugue in D minor and the French Suite No 6 in E major, and promises to be a real treat for Bach devotees. More details here.

To whet your appetite, here he is in the flamboyantly-opening Toccata in C minor, BWV 911.

Oct 02

Lunchtime concert series begins on Wednesday: from Rags to Riches!

The new Lunchtime Concert series bursts into life next Wednesday, as pianist Helen Crayford explores the world of ragtime piano music, with pieces by Scott Joplin, Fats Waller and George Gerswhin – all in period costume!

Helen CrayfordOur usual Wednesday series opens its doors next week – admission is free, with donations in support of the series always very welcome! Our thanks to Furley Page Solicitors, whose generous support continues to allow us to develop our programme of lunchtime concerts again this year.

The concert starts at 1.10pm, and will finish at 1.50pm, to allow you to get to 2pm commitments. Full details on our What’s On page here.

Prepare to step back in time next week…

Furley Page logo

Sponsors of the Lunchtime Concert series

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