Jul 09

Good musicians make good students

It’s that time of the year when students and their families are thronging to cathedrals in Canterbury and Rochester to take part in their Graduation ceremonies (cue lots of photos of mortar-boards being hurled in celebratory fashion into the air!).

This year, we have seven Music Scholarship students graduating, of whom five will be doing so with first-class degrees; congratulations to them all – it just goes to show that good musicians do indeed make good students…

Best wishes to everyone involved in music-making who will be graduating over these two weeks!


Jul 09

Awards ceremony recognises outstanding contributions to music-making at Kent

This year’s music prizes at the University of Kent have been awarded to six outstanding students at a ceremony at the end of the Scholars’ Lunchtime Concert during Summer Music Week. They received congratulations from Rosie Turner, Director of the Canterbury Festival, Jonathan Monckton, former Chair of the Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust, Professor John Craven, formerly Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Kent, Professor Keith Mander, Deputy Vice-Chancellor and members of the Music Awards Committee.

Music Prize Winners together with those presenting the award

Music Prize Winners together with those presenting the award

The Canterbury Festival Music Prize, which is awarded to a final-year student who has made an outstanding contribution to music was presented to Emma Murton. As well as being this year’s student conductor of the Chamber Choir, Emma has also been a singer in Chamber Choir, Chorus and Cecilian Choir, and harpist with the Symphony Orchestra and Lost Consort; she also played the harp in the recent Music Department commission, Ringing Changes. She has also sung in Musical Theatre showcases, and was a University Music Performance Scholar.

Emma Murton receives her award from Rosie Turner

Emma Murton receives her award from Rosie Turner

The Colyer-Fergusson Music Prize, awarded each year to a student who has made a major contribution to organising music at the University, was presented to Rowena Murrell, a final-year student reading Financial Mathematics
The award recognised her exceptional all-round behind-the-scenes organisation and administrative skills as Chorus Manager – the issuing and returning of vocal scores and deposits for members of the University Chorus (no mean feat!), staff and external membership and liaising closely with the Music Department. She has also sung in Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and Lost Consort, and was a University Music Lesson Scholar.

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 Anne Engels, a second-year student reading English & American Literature and Philosophy, and University Music Performance Scholar. Anne has played principal flute in the Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band, and was also in the Wind Ensemble, Wind Quintet and appeared as an instrumental soloist in the Chamber Choir Crypt Concert this year.

The First-year Prize, awarded (if appropriate) to a student who has made a significant contribution to music during their first year, was presented to Jonathan Butten, reading Biomedical Sciences. As a University Music Performance Scholar, Jonathan has played principal oboe in the Symphony Orchestra in all the major concerts, and also a prominent cor anglais solo in the orchestral concert in March. He has also played in the Wind Ensemble and Wind Quintet.

The University Music Awards Committee Prize, for students who have made a special contribution to music, was awarded jointly to Hannah Perrin and Kathryn Cox. In her final year as a PhD student in Social Policy, Hannah’s award recognised  her all-round special contribution to music-making for the past five years as both a Masters and PhD student. Her participation has included singing in Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and the Lost Consort and she was also pianist for the student group Sing!  She helped the Music Department organise several events for Children in Need, and has brought an enthusiasm and a commitment to music at Kent that has been a motivational force throughout the department. Kathryn, a University Music Scholar in her final-year reading Psychology, has made a particularly valuable contribution to University Music as a singer, as a member of Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and the Lost Consort. She was also a number of solos in concerts, and lunchtime foyer events, including the Variations for Judith project, held over eleven consecutive days earlier this year, and took part in a singing masterclass with Dame Anne Evans last year.

Hannah Perrin receives her award from Professor Keith Mander

Hannah Perrin receives her award from Professor Keith Mander

The extra-curricular musical life at the University is a reflection of the commitment, enthusiasm and excellence of many of its participants, and it’s a great pleasure to be able to recognise the outstanding contribution made by particular students, whose energy and enthusiasm for making music alongside their academic studies has done so much to enrich the life of the University this year. Our thanks also to our generous donors, whose financial support enables us to award these prizes each year.

Jul 08

Dutch youth orchestra visits Colyer-Fergusson

We were delighted to welcome the Almere Youth Symphony Orchestra to Colyer-Fergusson on Sunday.

Hailing from a city in the heart of the Netherlands, the age-range of the orchestral members is between 13 to 21. Under the baton of conductor Hans Welle, they demonstrated a high standard of playing, performing a range of music with the emphasis on English pieces – from music from James Bond through to a beautiful performance of Elgar’s ‘Nimrod’ and one of the fastest versions  of the Pomp and Circumstance March I have ever heard!

Almere_Youth_OrchestraIt was a real pleasure to have them visit, and we hope they will come back again soon.

Jun 16

Image Gallery: Summer Music Week 2015

Images from some of the various events that took place from Sunday 7 to Saturday 13 June, as the Music department bid farewell to another year at the University of Kent. Photos from the Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital on Day Two; jazz on the foyer-stage on Day Three; the String Sinfonia on Day Four; the Chamber and Cecilian Choirs in rehearsal on Day 6; and the marquee reception on the final day.

Other photos from throughout the week on our Pinterest board here.

Images © Matt Wilson / University of Kent

Jun 15

Summer Music Week: Days Six and Seven

Summer Music Week came to a flourishing finale on Saturday, as the last two days of our week-long end-of-year celebration seemed to go in a flash.

Friday afternoon saw the Music Theatre Society previewing their ‘Send in the Showtunes’ showcase on the foyer-stage at lunchtime, with some characterful renditions of parts of Little Shop of Horrors and Cabaret. The evening concert featured the Chamber and Cecilian Choirs in choral music from the Renaissance to the present-day – another opportunity to feature the new departmental harpsichord, in Monteverdi’s Beatus Vir – including the premiere of Ringing Changes by composer Matthew King, blending choral music with electronics.

The foyer and concert-hall were in their decorative best on Saturday for Music for a Summer’s Day, the traditional finale featuring the Chorus, Orchestra and Chamber Choir bidding a final farewell to the musical year. There were tears, too, as final-year sopranos Kathryn Cox and Rowena Murrell stepped out from the Chorus’s bustling West Side Story medley to sing You’ll Never Walk Alone, and also as all those performing with the department for the final time stood for their applause. The Chamber Choir moved from the atmospheric landscape of Chydenius’ Autumn under final-year Emma Murton to lively pop and close-harmony jazz; Michael Sosinski handled his cork-popping solo in the Champagne Polka with regal dignity; and the concluding chorus of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ was conducted with great aplomb by Pro Vice-Chancellor, Keith Mander, a terrific champion of music at the University, for whom this was the last concert.

The sunshine was also on hand as performers, parents and guests mingled on the Registry lawn for post-performance cream teas, and the opportunity to say goodbye.

You can see photos from throughout the week over on our Pinterest board. Formal photographs from the week will be appearing shortly; stay tuned…

Jun 11

Summer Music Week: Day Five

Some sunny music from the String Sinfonia on Day Five of Summer Music, led by Elina Hakanen.


Jun 11

Summer Music Week: days Three and Four

The music continues unabated this week as Summer Music Week rings around the building; days Three and Four saw a lunchtime recital by some of the University Music Scholars, followed by the annual awarding of the Music Prizes; performers Jonathan Butten, Anne Engels, Rianna Carr and John Gabriel together with guest Benedict Preece performed two movements from Ravel’s magical Mother Goose Suite; Emily Farrell demonstrated the euphonium’s light-footed side in an arrangements of Mozart’s Rondo alla turca; cellist Faith Chan and mezzo-soprano Charley Tench performed Purcell’s Dido’s Lament; and harpist Emma Murton gave a dazzling rendition of Debussy’s first Arabesque and Salzedo’s shimmering Chanson dans la nuit. The concert was also the first formal outing for the department’s newly-commissioned harpsichord, a stunning instrument built by Andrew Wooderson, and a generous donation by Dr James and Jenny Bird, for which we are immeasurably grateful.

Day Four featured the Sax Ensemble on the foyer-stage at lunchtime, with Hannah Wiffen, Felicity Langford and Patrick Eves joined by Chris Murrell on drums, led by Peter Cook. In the afternoon, the hall rang to the sound of the Concert Band and Big Band in rehearsal under the baton of conductor Ian Swatman, and the evening saw the bands, together with vocalist and alumna Steph Richardson, bring their musical year to a rousing conclusion.

Thanks to Phoebe Hopwood for this splendid panoramic shot of the Big Band preparing to play in the evening!


Click to view

Events continue until Saturday; find out more here.

Jun 09

Summer Music Week: the first two days

Like a phoenix from the flames, Summer Music Week burst into life anew on Sunday; conductor Ian Swatman led the charge as the Big Band took to the Memorial Bandstand at Deal for a day filled with sunshine and swing, for which the band welcomed back vocalist and alumna, Steph Richardson.

Yesterday, Day Two, saw the inaugural use of the department’s commissioned harpsichord in a feast of arias from several of the singing Scholars in Operatic Heroines in Love; from Mozart to Gluck, Saint-Saens, and Dvorak, a delighted audience was led on an exploration of love, lust and desire by Charley Tench, Charlotte Webb, Rowena Murrell, Ruth Webster, Kathi Kirschbaum, Livy Potter and Kathryn Cox, which included Purcell’s Dido’s Lament with Faith Chan on cello and the Chamber Choir performing the dolorous ‘With drooping wings’ chorus which follows the aria.

Summer Music continues all this week; details online here.

Jun 08

Modern-day digital pilgrim: an interview with Phil Ward

As part of the Ringing Changes project commissioned by the Music Department for the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations – the premiere of which takes place on Friday 12 June (read more here) – photographs by Phil Ward (Deputy Director of Research Services) are being exhibited in the new Colyer-Fergusson Gallery, to coincide with the performance. Several of Phil’s images will be projected above the stage during the concert, to which the text for the piece (by Patricia Debney from the School of Creative Writing) was written in response. I caught up with Phil, and asked about the inspiration for his photography, and the experience of collaborative working as part of the project.

How did your passion for photographing the landscape come about ?

Phil Ward

Phil Ward

When I was younger I used to take and develop my own black and white photographs. However, that fell by the wayside somewhat with moving houses, changing jobs, starting a family. Two things got me back in to it. The first was the technology. With modern smart phones the quality is so good that you essentially always have a decent camera with you. Sure, it’s not perfect, but it does mean that you don’t have to take a lot of equipment with you, so you’ll always be ready to capture that fleeting moment, the changing of the light, that sudden stillness. And the second was starting to cycling to work, and passing through such beautiful and ever changing landscapes. It was irresistible!

There must be something about the Kentish landscape in particular that attracts you; is there ? Are you a modern-day digital pilgrim ?!

As I say, it came about when I started cycling between Wye and Canterbury to work. As part of the route follows the pilgrim trail, I guess I am a ‘modern day digital pilgrim’! We are incredibly spoilt in this part of the world, both for the myriad back roads and tracks that make cycling a joy, but also the beauty and variety of the countryside, from the bucolic, quintessentially English charm of the rolling Downs, to the flat wildness of Romney Marsh, the bleakness of Dungeness, or the dozens of varied beaches. But I also like the less picturesque, the things that others might find ugly, from corrugated iron barns, to greasy spoon cafes, to the detritus next to the Stour river.


Image: Phil Ward

Your images are used in the choral commission being performed on the 12 June; what’s it been like to collaborate with Matthew and Patricia ?

It’s been an immense honour and privilege, but it does make me feel like a fraud! For me, I had already produced the work; for them, they are having to create new pieces. I imagine being inspired and creative to order is incredibly difficult. I hope the photographs have helped them in this. Both of them have been very open to suggestion, and it has felt like an ongoing conversation as it has developed.

Phil's images on display in the Colyer-Fergusson gallery

Phil’s images on display in the gallery

What can visitors to your exhibition expect ?

Given the number of images that I’ve got on my blog, it was challenging to cut them down to the selection I’m going to show. I wanted them to be somehow representative, but ultimately went with the ones that I liked best. There will be everything there, from a broken blackbird’s egg found on the Chartham cycle path, to winter mists and summer haze, from the stark beauty of Dungeness to the lush farmland of the Stour Valley. I hope they reflect my journey, my ‘digital pilgrimage’!

The exhibition of Phil’s photographs is now open at the Colyer-Fergusson Gallery, admission free, gallery open during normal working hours. Ringing Changes will be performed by the University Chamber and Cecilian Choirs on Friday 12 June as part of Summer Music Week: details here.

Jun 04

Summer Music Week is coming: teaser-trailer

Get ready for Summer Music Week: it all starts this Sunday…!

See all the details online here.

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