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.
cfsketch02 cfsketch01


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.

Nov 10

In conversation: conductor Jaime Martín with Susan Wanless

The Director of Music will be on stage in the Marlowe Theatre this Saturday in a different guise, as she hosts an ‘In Conversation’ with the conductor of the Philharmonia, Jaime Martín, ahead of the orchestra’s concert.

Jaime Martín: image credit Alexander Lindström

Jaime Martín: image credit Alexander Lindström

The Philharmonia Orchestra is back at the Marlowe Theatre on Saturday for its second concert of the season, in Mozart’s Overture to La Clemenza di Tito, Brahms’ Violin Concerto and the titanic drama of Sibelius’ Fifth Symphony. Susan has been asked to host the pre-concert event, which starts at 6.15 in the Theatre auditorium, when she will be in conversation with the conductor to talk about his life and passion for music he will be conducting that night.

To hear him talk about his career and thoughts on the programme with the Director of Music, and then go to what promises to be a fantastic concert, find out more here.

Nov 08

New exhibition explores music during World War One

Our new exhibition here in the Colyer-Fergusson Gallery focuses on the different uses of music during World War One.

ExhibitionGFWW01Curated by Dr Emma Hanna in the School of History, the exhibition examines music away from the solemnity of memorial services, and looks instead at its use as entertainment in an era before the widespread ownership of gramophones, as a means of boosting morale during the conflict, as a recruitment tool, and as a means of keeping the men at the Front in touch with feelings of home.

ExhibitionGFWW02As Dr Hanna writes in her introduction accompanying the exhibition, music ‘was unmatched in its power to cajole, console, cheer and inspire during the conflict and its aftermath.’

ExhibitionGFWW03On display until Friday 25 November during normal opening hours, the exhibition is free to attend, and is part of the Gateways to the First World War project. You can talk a short video walk-through of the exhibition on Periscope here.



Nov 04

No strings attached: the String Sinfonia

The String Sinfonia returns again this year, and has already been diligently rehearsing each week in preparation for its performing commitments this year.

sinfonia_rehearsing02Amongst the repertoire the ensemble is currently preparing are works by Handel, Vivaldi, Elgar’s Serenade for Strings, Brahms and Mozart.

sinfonia_rehearsingTheir first performance is next month; keep an eye on the web for details of their concerts throughout this year.

Nov 01

Three events commemorating World War One next week: Memorial Ground, Last Post and Lunchtime Concert

As part of the Music department’s observing of the anniversary of World War One, including the Battle of the Somme, three events next week.

memorial-ground1On Thursday 10 November, a special performance by the Cecilian Choir, conducted by Your Loyal Correspondent, commemorates the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme with  a new choral piece written by American composer David Lang in Studio 3 Gallery. Memorial Ground is an evocative, haunting meditation on the Battle of the Somme, but also reaches beyond it to commemorate all those who have lost their lives in conflict ever since. The piece was commissioned as part of the nationwide 14-18NOW project.

David Lang

David Lang

As part of a national series of performances, Memorial Ground is the Pulitzer-prize-winning composer’s response to the anniversary, written in such a way as to allow choirs around the country to realise the piece in whatever way is appropriate to their occasion. For this performance by the Cecilian Choir, the piece will be combined with words by the First World War poet, Siegfried Sassoon, as well as with a new poem written by Nancy Gaffield, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in the School of English. The performance will be illuminated by a series of projections from the Special Collections and Archives department in the Templeman Library, curated by Joanna Baines. This sepcially-crafted son et lumiere event begins at 1.10pm, and will last approximately twenty minutes; admission is free – if you can’t make it, the event will be streamed live online here.

On Friday 11 November at 11am, third-year Music Scholar and trumpeter Alex Reid will play the Last Post in the Registry Garden; this is followed at 1.10pm by a lunchtime concert  focusing on poet and composer Ivor Gurney. Arranged by Dr Kate Kennedy, the event dramatizes Gurney’s life as musician, soldier and eventually asylum patient, following his progress in his own words and music, with humour and poignancy.

From the start of next week, Colyer-Fergusson Gallery will host an exhibition produced by the Gateways to the First World War Project exploring music during the conflict, which will be on display until Friday 25 November.

Find out about all these events and more online here.

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