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.

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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!

Dec 15

Final week of seasonal music-making

It’s been a busy week here in the Music department, with the final musical events bringing the term to a rousing seasonal finale.

On Tuesday, the Chamber Choir, conducted by Your Loyal Correspondent,  performed as part of the University Carol Service in Canterbury Cathedral – always a magical occasion, which starts with the entire Cathedral being plunged into darkness, and the notes of the choir’s first carol rising to the dark recesses of vaulted roof above a sea of candles. Second-year Doug Haycock made his conducting debut with Tavener’s The Lamb, opening the service in evocative fashion.

img_1138fullsizerenderWednesday afternoon saw General Harding’s Tomfoolery, the vintage dance-band, taking to the foyer-stage in a spirited selection of swing classics, for which they were joined by The Minervettes; trombonist and singer, post-grad Rob Cliff was a smooth host, and both band and singers were in fine form in pieces including American PatrolPuttin’ On The Ritz and Sleigh Ride.

The final event in this term’s musical calendar was yesterday evening’s ebullient Christmas Swingalong with the Big Band, directed by Ian Swatman, which saw first-years Dottie Grenville and Alicia O’Malley making their singing debut with the band. Feisty incarnations of familiar pieces including A Chilli Pepper Christmas, audience carols with the brass ensemble and the traditional, inimitable rendition of Santa, Baby by our very own Sophie Meikle culminated in a sing-along I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, before audience and performers alike spilled out into the foyer for mulled wine and mince pies.

img_1145 img_1149It’s been a terrific term, full of music-making; thanks to both everyone who has performed throughout the term, as well as to those who have been amongst the audiences. We’ll be back in the New Year with full details of our spring / summer season; from all the Music team here, we wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas!

Dec 12

The day is ours: Chorus and Orchestra celebrate Shakespeare’s anniversary

Congratulations to all those involved in Saturday’s Sounding Shakespeare concert, which brought together the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra together in resounding form in a musical pot pourri celebrating the Bard’s 400th anniversary.

Led by second-year Law student, Lydia Cheng, conducted by Susan Wanless, the orchestra opened with two pieces by Mendelssohn, before joining the Chorus in Rutter’s When Icicles Hang, complete with wintry textures and fifteenth-century verse. After the interval, the orchestra showed themselves in robust form in Bernstein’s Overture to ‘West Side Story’ complete with lusty cries of ‘Mambo!’ emphatically delivered by the players.

simon_paisley_dayThe final piece, Walton’s Suite from Henry V included seasoned Shakespearian actor Simon Paisley Day, who held the audience’s rapt attention in various speeches from the Bard’s play, concluding with a rousing Agincourt carol with the Chorus.

Both Orchestra and Chorus return in March with Puccini’s Messa di Gloria and Tchaikovsky’s yearning Sixth Symphony, performed in Canterbury Cathedral on Saturday 25 March.

Nov 30

Eminent actor to join us for Walton’s Henry V

We are delighted that actor Simon Paisley Day will be joining us next week, to read sections of Shakespeare’s Henry V as part of a performance of Walton’s score to the film during our December concert.

Sounding Shakespeare brings the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra together on Saturday 10 December to round off the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard, including music by Mendelssohn, Bernstein and Rutter, and Simon will be taking part in the performance of the film score Walton composed for the famed film of Henry V starting Laurence Olivier, originally written in 1944 and converted into a suite in 1963.

simon_paisley_daySince leaving the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 1991, Simon has worked extensively in the theatre, on screen and on radio, playing a great number of Shakespearean roles, including Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Horatio in Hamlet  at the National Theatre, Iachimo in Cymbeline at Regent’s Park, Timon in Timon of Athens, Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare’s Globe and, most recently, Antony in Antony and Cleopatra at The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Last Christmas he appeared as the Onceler in Dr Seuss’s The Lorax at the Old Vic in London.

Join us on Saturday 10 December for what promises to be an epic odyssey in words and music; details here.

Nov 30

Concert-hall draws the drawing crowd

First-year students from the School of Architecture have been visiting Colyer-Fergusson this week, in particular to sketch the concert-hall; here are a few of their responses to our award-winning space.
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Nov 28

Actor power: alumna Livy Potter treads the boards this weekend

Former Music Performance Scholar and singer, Livy Potter, has truly caught the Acting Bug since graduating from Kent in 2015 studying History, and next week appears in a production of CS Lewis’ classic The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe at Ilkley Playhouse. I asked her to reflect on the rehearsal process and the challenges involved before curtain up next Wednesday…


Olivia Potter

Mezzo’s forte: Olivia Potter

There comes a point during the rehearsal process, whether it be for a concert or play, where things seem to inexplicably come together, as if some higher power has snapped his/her fingers and declared ‘This shall work’. For the production I’m currently involved in, a stage adaptation of the ever magical The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, this moment occurred three rehearsals ago, which was a relief because we have just over a week left before our ten day run begins.

The play is being staged in the Wharfside Theatre at Ilkley Playhouse, a thriving community arts hub in the idyllic Yorkshire spa town of Ilkley. Its yearly season offers eight main-house and two studio productions, and it also plays host to community arts events such as the Ilkley Film Society and the Ilkley Literature Festival throughout the year.

Livy Potter (second from left) in rehearsal

Livy Potter (second from left) in rehearsal

The adaption of CS Lewis’ classic tale we are using was written by the late poet and playwright Adrian Mitchell for the RSC’s 1998 season. It’s filled with catchy songs and lots of magic moments that, we hope, will help spread the Christmas spirit during this festive season.

Our Director, the ever enthusiastic and patient Damien O’Keeffe, has not set himself an easy task with this production. Two teams of the Playhouse’s youth theatre group pupils (20 young people in total) will alternate performances throughout the run, supported by a small group of adult actors.

LWW rehearsal 02However, all the cast has risen to the challenge wonderfully and embraced the creative chaos that has been our rehearsal period, which has been an absolute joy and a truly collaborative effort from everyone; all suggestions and ideas have been encouraged and valued. Our Aslan, Faz Singhateh (now renamed Fazlan for obvious reasons), has a mighty impressive roar that actually made me jump when I heard it the first time, and the large ensemble do a fantastic job of playing multiple magical creatures, going from centaurs to hags (what even is a hag?!) in the space of one scene.

LWW rehearsal 03I play one of four narrators – we are on stage almost continuously, watching the action from a distance, keeping the story moving, and maneuvering large wheeled set pieces by means of ‘actor power’, as Damien often refers to it.

I made my debut at Ilkley in July, after auditioning on a whim for a small part in their summer musical Betty Blue Eyes and loving every minute of it. Before this, I had done very little acting but, after obtaining a singing scholarship whilst at the University of Kent and receiving an incredible amount of support and encouragement to expand my creative repertoire during my time there, I graduated with a desire to push myself and try my hand at some acting. When I was offered a part in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I said yes without any hesitation. It appears that I have truly caught the acting bug and will be back on the Wharfside stage again in March playing Benvolio in Romeo and Juliet, a prospect I find both exciting and terrifying!


Catch Livy and the crew in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe from 7-17 December at Ilkley Playhouse. Tickets can be purchased from the Playhouse website here.

Nov 21

Preludes Re-visited accompanied by live music for two pianos

A special event next week brings together an exhibition in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery with live music for two pianos on Friday 2 December.

14184510_10154537619231180_3622527117156399451_nPreludes (where you go I go) by artist Adam de Ville returns to the gallery to see out the Autumn term in a new form, and to mark its re-emergence, you are invited to view the images accompanied by a live performance of Gavin Bryars’ My First Homage, for two pianos, performed by Dan Harding and Matthew King.

The exhibition, created especially for the Colyer-Fergusson Gallery, is Adam’s response to Bryars’ piece, Sinking of the Titanic, and this event offers the opportunity to experience the images during a live performance of Bryars’ equally meditative homage to jazz pianist, Bill Evans, as a live soundscape. Adam will also be present at the event, and will be available for a ‘Meet the Artist’ session afterwards.

The exhibition will be open throughout December; the viewing together with the live performance begins at 1.10pm and will last twenty minutes; admission is free, details online here.

Nov 21

Scene and not herd: Musical Theatre Society showcase next week

The University’s Musical Theatre Society returns to Colyer-Fergusson next week, with an epic showcase full of songs which explore the struggle between our need to be part of the pack and yet also to follow our dreams.

mts_leader_posterFollow The Leader is a collection of powerful and revealing songs that prove that the quest for power may not always run the safest path, explored in music from Hamilton, Kinky Boots, Chicago, RENT and others.

mts_leader01The cast have been hard at work in rehearsals over the course of the term, and the directors of the showcase, Antonia Kasoulidou and Rakel Svendsen, declare that the show promises to be an inspiring, ingenious and intoxicating piece which explores the conflict between the deep desire to follow the herd, and the yearning to break with tradition and risk becoming an outcast.

mts_leader02mts_logo_newFind out if you have the herd instinct or are prepared to take risks on forging a new path, as Follow The Leader comes to Colyer-Fergusson Hall on Saturday 3 and Sunday 4 December at 7.30pm; tickets available here.

Nov 17

More Tomfoolery as the jazz band returns

Cometh the hour, cometh the jazz musicians: the stars have aligned, and this year the twelve-piece dance band, General Harding’s Tomfoolery, is back in action.

02-first-rehearsal-newThe group was originally formed in 2013 to breathe new life into a set of dance-band musictomfoolery_2013 originally bequeathed to the Music department by the Ken Lewis Dance Orchestra. The original folders of music contain vintage original copies of pieces from the 1930s through to the 1950s, including swing classics such as Tuxedo Junction and American Patrol, brittle with age and with faded Sellotape sometimes holding the fragile pages together. The group gigged throughout the year, including a memorable afternoon which had Colyer-Fergusson Hall filled with people dancing along.

tomfoolery_sheetmusicThe band has returned with faces both old and new, bringing together undergraduate and postgraduate musicians from a variety of subjects from both the Canterbury and Medway campuses, and is busy rehearsing for its first gig on the foyer-stage next month, Weds 14 December. We had a mock-up yesterday – leaving space for a drum-kit, not one but TWO bassists, and a couple of additional brass instruments – to check we can all fit on the stage. Who knows…

tomfoolery_stagechecktomfoolery_logoBring your dancing-shoes on Weds 14 December at 1.10pm, when Tomfoolery will play a festively swinging set to get people In The Mood for the Big Band’s seasonal favourite, the Christmas Swing-along, at 5.15pm later in the day. More details here.

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