Jul 12

Open Day today

It’s Open Day today, and we’re here in the Colyer-Fergusson Building until 3pm; if you want to come and look around the concert-hall and practice facilities, find out about all the music-making that takes place at the University, or want to know more about our Music Scholarships – come and say hi!


In-spiring future students…

11am; we’ve seen visitors from Canterbury, Buckinghamshire, Vienna and Munich so far this morning, testament to both the local and international appeal of the University!

12pm; midday, and there’s been a flurry of visitors to the music building; bassoon, string-players, pianists, singers, a drummer, a flautist – not to mention oud and sitar! 2015 is shaping up to be an eclectic musical year if they all come to the University next year…exciting…

12.30pm ; the record for the Visitor-from-the-Farthest-Flung-Shore award appears to be going to the most recent visitor to the music building, who has come from Singapore: welcome!

Jul 09

Big Band fundraiser: a thank-you from Porchlight

From Porchlight’s Community Fundraising Officer, Kate Lumley.

Kate Lumley

Kate Lumley

Thank you so much to Dan Harding, Ian Swatman, the University Big Band and the Music Department for supporting Porchlight with the first concert of Summer Music Week and wishing us a Happy Birthday! The charity’s 40th Anniversary has certainly got off to a great start and we couldn’t be more grateful for the support we’ve received so far. It really is fantastic when local groups and businesses decide to fundraise for the charity (especially when that’s combined with brilliant music-making at the seaside!) because their efforts really help change people’s lives in their community and across Kent and Croydon.

01Last year, Porchlight managed to help over 4,000 homeless and vulnerable people turn their lives around, and this would not have been possible without the generosity of the general public, local businesses and groups like the UKC Big Band. However, the charity is still in need of your help! More people are needing our help while funds are being cut and this is having a direct impact on our services and in turn, how many people we can reach out to. This is best illustrated through the situation with our Rough Sleeper team, who go out and find rough sleepers early in the morning or in the evening to offer them help, which has been reduced from over twenty workers to just six over the space of two years. This means that more people will be facing the dangers of rough sleeping for longer before we can find and help them. The money raised by the UKC Big Band concert could pay for two Rough Sleeper team workers for a day plus two welcome packs for someone moving into one of our supported accommodation projects with nothing of their own.

If you’d like to support the charity and help our services to continue, please check out our website and read about the many ways you can get involved

Jun 24

Music prizes recognise outstanding contributions to the musical life at Kent

The annual Music Prizes were awarded last week to a selection of students who have made an outstanding contribution to the musical life of the University this year; and what a year it has been!

Marina receiving her award from Rosie Turner

Marina receiving her award from Rosie Turner

The Canterbury Festival Music Prize, awarded to a final-year student who has made an outstanding contribution to music was awarded to Marina Ivanova, in her final year reading Economics. Since coming to Kent as a Music Scholar, Marina has participated in Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir, Lost Consort, as well as being a soloist in the Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert, Vivaldi Gloria; she also  took part in the Dame Anne Evans masterclass in the autumn, and many other recitals. The prize was presented by the Director of the Canterbury Festival, Rosie Turner.

Alex Turner receives her award from Jonathan Monckton

Alex Turner receives her award from Jonathan Monckton

The Colyer-Fergusson Music Prize, which is awarded each year to a student who has made a major contribution to organising music at the University, was presented to Alex Turner, a second-year student reading Biomedical Science. The prize recognises her exceptional all-round behind-the-scenes organising and admin skills as Concert Band/Big Band assistant (and flautist, and sax player), and in other music activities including the Symphony Orchestra (flute and piccolo), Dance Orchestra,  the flute ensemble, as well as playing in the pit-band for this year’s Musical Theatre Society’s production of Hair. Alex received her prize from Jonathan Monckton, Chair of the Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust.

John Craven presents Gordon Wood with his award

John Craven presents Gordon Wood with his award

The John Craven Music Prize, which goes to a returning student who has made a major contribution to music at Kent, this year went to Gordon Wood, in his second year reading Philosophy. A Music Scholar, Gordon plays double bass in Symphony Orchestra, Camerata, String Sinfonia, Dance Orchestra, tuba in Concert Band, Double bass/bass guitar in Big Band, and at various Watch This Space and jazz gigs. John Craven himself was there in person to make the presentation.

Matthew Bamford receives his award from Dan Lloyd

Matthew Bamford receives his award from Dan Lloyd

The University Music Awards Committee Prize, for a student who has made a special contribution to music, was awarded jointly to two final-years students;  Matthew Bamford, reading International Business, and Carina Evans, reading Accounting and Finance. Matthew’s award was for his all-round contribution to music-making this year. Student conductor of Chamber Choir, MD for Musical Theatre Society’s production of Hair, sings in Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and Treasurer of the Music Society.


Dan Lloyd presents Carina Evans with her prize

Dan Lloyd presents Carina Evans with her prize

Carina’s prize recognises her contribution, as a University Music Scholar, to music over three years as timpanist and percussionist with the Symphony Orchestra, Concert Band, Camerata and many recitals on marimba. Both students received their award from committee-member, Dr Dan Lloyd.

Finally, the First-Year Prize, awarded if appropriate to a student who has made a significant contribution to music-making during their first year of study, went to Joe Prescott. Reading English Language and Linguistics, Joe has made a significant impact on music as a University Music Scholar since arriving in September, playing jazz trumpet in Big Band and Dance Orchestra, Trumpet in Symphony Orchestra, Concert Band, as well as singing tenor in Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir.

First-year Joe Prescott receives his award from Keith Mander

First-year Joe Prescott receives his award from Keith Mander

The musical life of the University is nothing without the commitment, enthusiasm and participation of its student community – our thanks and congratulations to all the prize winners for their outstanding involvement in, and contributions to, what has been a memorable year. Here’s looking forward to the next!

The assembled prize-winning students and guests

The assembled prize-winning students and guests

Jun 24

One Last Dance: General Harding’s Tomfoolery at the Gulbenkian

Although Summer Music Week was over, we couldn’t let the opportunity for one final event to pass us by, and for the Dance Orchestra to have one final farewell. On the last day of term, General Harding’s Tomfoolery gathered on the cabaret-stage in the Gulbenkian Cafe to bid a fleet-footed farewell not just to the term, but to the academic year – and to an industrious few weeks of performing! (Was it really only on 31 May that the band won Keynestock and embarked on its six-gigs-in-twenty-one-days spree ?!)

Our usual bass-player was away that day – a tip o’ the straw hat to Jenn Morgan who stepped up to play, and performed as though she’d been a part of the band for ages.

Thanks to the Gulbenkian for hosting us, and to everyone who has been a part of the group this year.

Jun 23

Image Gallery: Music for A Summer’s Day at Summer Music Week

Summer Music Week drew to a rousing close on Sunday 15 June with Music for a Summer’s Day, with contributions from the University Chorus, Orchestra, Concert Band and Chamber Choir, followed by a very civilised cream tea reception in the Registry Lawn marquee.

The concert included the Concert Band in dynamic form in a medley of James Bond themes, two final-year singing Scholars moving the audience to tears in You’ll Never Walk Alone, a thigh-slapping choral selection from Mary Poppins, scenic Eric Coates from the Orchestra, some lively pieces from the Chamber Choir, and a stirring finale with Land of Hope and Glory in which the audience joined in. A terrific occasion.

Thanks to Matt Wilson as usual for these lovely images of a fitting conclusion not just to Summer Music Week itself, but to a year of music-making at the University.


Images © Matt Wilson / University of Kent

Jun 23

Image Gallery: Summer Music Week: General Harding’s Tomfoolery

Thanks to Matt Wilson for these stunning photos of General Harding’s Tomfoolery inspiring the audience to dance on the Wednesday of Summer Music Week. Comprising student musicians and run by your loyal correspondent, this vibrant  twelve-piece dance orchestra rekindled the spirit of the 1930s, and members of the audience were inspired to leap to their feet during classic tunes such as In The Mood and Minnie the Moocher.

The group performs from original 1930s sheet music, a bequest to the department some years ago from the Ken Lewis Dance Orchestra; the archive of pieces, still tied with original string, brittle with age and use, is an astonishing memento of the era – it’s fantastic to be breathing new life into these venerable instrumental parts.

See all the images from Summer Music Week on our Pinterest board here.

Images © Matt Wilson / University of Kent

Jun 18

General Tomfoolery visit St Christopher’s School celebrations

There was sunshine, song and some sophisticated swing yesterday afternoon, as General Harding’s Tomfoolery (or the University Dance Band, depending on how you might have heard of them!) played at the annual VE Day celebrations at St Christopher’s primary school in Canterbury.

VE03Amidst a back-drop of a bunting-bedecked playground, patrolled by pupils and staff in period costume, the event included theatrical, musical and poetic contributions from the school pupils, after which the band launched into Tuexdo Junction and a vibrant set to entertain the children, staff, parents and visitors.

There’s more from the band this Friday lunchtime at 1.10pm, as they take to the Gulbenkian cafe cabaret stage for ‘One Last Dance;’ make sure you’re there!

Jun 18

Summer Music Week: our Pinterest gallery

With Summer Music Week finally over – and what a week it was! – you can re-live some of the moments over on our Pinterest board. From the opening burst from the Big Band in the sunshine on the Deal Bandstand to the final, stirring strains of Elgar on the second Sunday, it was a fantastic week of music-making, in which many of the University’s students, staff and members of the local community came together to celebrate music at Kent.

08Visit the pinboard here: more photos will follow later in the week as well.

Jun 12

Summer Music Week: the story so far

It’s been a busy week – and it’s not over yet!

Since last we posted, we’ve had a lunchtime recital from some of the Music Scholars on Tuesday, and yesterday’s jazz-themed bonanza was bursting with vigour. First of all, General Harding’s Tomfoolery had the crowd on its feet in a lunchtime gig recreating ‘The Golden Age,’ with the vocal talents of Steph Richardson and Rob Cliff, ably compered by Adam Murgatroyd. Hot on the heels of this came live jazz-funk on the foyer-stage, with an interlude from vocal trio The Canterberries.

Last night finished with the annual Big Band Gala under the direction of conductor Ian Swatman – and more dancing!

There’s plenty still to come: find out all that’s happening over the next few days here.

Jun 10

Summer Music Day Two: Scenes from Mozart

You know that something rather special is going on when you find yourself having to put out additional seating before a concert to cope with the level of audience which is turning up. Such was the situation yesterday at just before five o’clock, when the storage cupboard was being pillaged for further seating, to accommodate the surprisingly large (yet very welcome!) turn-out for Scenes from Mozart, featuring some of the University Music Scholars accompanied by your loyal correspondent.

An enthusiastic crowd was treated to a selection of moments from three of Mozart’s operas – Clemenza di Tito, Cosi fan tutte and The Marriage of Figaro. With no expense spared on lavish production values, the minimalist approach to staging involved replacing a bed and a chaise-longue with chairs, a cupboard door become – wait for it – a lady’s fan, and Cherubino’s dramatic jumping out of the window involved…well, let’s just say you had to be there…

Ranging from the intimacy of Deh vieni through the high emotions of Dove sono to the feverish drama of Come out, Susana, the programme took in a snapshot of operatic gems, and demonstrated not only Mozart’s wonderful facility for writing the state of the characters and the tone of the moment into the fabric of the music, but the versatility of the singers too.

Well done to everyone that took part. Day Three of Summer Music Week continues today with a Lunchtime Recital from some of the University Music Scholars in the concert-hall at 1.10pm.

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