Aug 11

Making music at Kent: Svenja reflects

About to finish her MA in Comparative Literature, her second postgraduate degree, having finished a Master of Education (English and Maths) in Berlin last year, Svenja Glass looks back on her involvement in music at Kent.

I was here first in 2012/13 as an Erasmus student from Free University Berlin (just like Max Mergenbaum, funnily enough, only I came via the English Department!). At that time, I studied English and Maths in Berlin, but on coming to Kent I just attended seminars in English Literature (and German Translation and Danish …). Then I went back to Berlin to finish my M.Ed. and decided to come back to Canterbury because I had enjoyed my year at the University of Kent so much – especially the music-making.

On the occasion of the valedictory concert in June we were given tags to write down our best memory related to music at the University of Kent – 50th anniversary of the university, 50 memories. It goes without saying that it is impossible to choose just one single memory, but it certainly offered a welcome opportunity to re-live what made 2014/15 so special for me.

Svenja Glass

Svenja Glass

I sang in the University Chorus, and I enjoyed every single rehearsal (did you know that Popocatépetl is a volcano in Mexico? Say the name eight times as fast as you can!). To quote Sue: “an hour of singing will do you a world of good,” and this is absolutely true, particularly in the face of several essay deadlines approaching at once (Dies Irae!). Performing Verdi’s Requiem in the Cathedral with around 180 other singers and the University Symphony Orchestra was, of course, epic!

Moreover, I took the chance to go to a variety of concerts (I think I never went to so many concerts), especially exploring some more modern music, which I would not normally have dared to attend. Walton’s Façade, performed by the CantiaQuorum ensemble in November and featuring some Canterbury-VIPs as readers is just one fantastic example.

Naturally, the best concerts were the ones in which my friends performed. The high standard of music-making at the university is simply amazing. And talking about friends, I met a lot of wonderful people from all possible subject areas – economics, biomedical science, you name it, and we had a perfectly marvellous time playing the piano together , for instance, or singing Christmas carols on campus and in town. After all, the best thing about Music at the University of Kent is spending your free (or not-quite-so-free-but-rather-busy) time with a lovely bunch of people who share a great passion for music.

Aug 10

Voices Appeared: Canterbury Festival comes to Colyer-Fergusson

Colyer-Fergusson Hall will play host to the Orlando Consort in this year’s Canterbury Festival, in what promises to be an evocative and haunting event combining silent film with motets, plainsong and other vocal music from the medieval period.

Orlando_Consort_Voices‘Voices Appeared’ will see the acclaimed vocal consort perform a collection of music from the fifteenth century as a soundtrack to Carl Theodor Dreyer’s silent film, La Passione de Jean D’Arc, depicting the trial and execution of Joan of Arc, made in 1928 and initially banned in England. This short trailer provides a brief glimpse of the combination of music and film which looks to pack an emotional punch.

Festival logoMore details about the event here. ‘Voices Appeared’ comes to Colyer-Fergusson on Sunday 25 October at 7.30pm.

Aug 10

Was It Good For You: Anna Shinkfield

Continuing the series in which musical alumni look back on their musical life at Kent: this week, woodwind-player and singer, Anna Shinkfield.


Anna Shinkfield

Anna Shinkfield

When were you at Kent?
2007 – 2011

What subject did you study?
English and American Literature

What occupation are you now engaged in?
Arts Admin

If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical activities now ?
I am not currently involved in anything musical at the moment but I am hoping to find something musical to get involved in soon!

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?
I sang in the Chorus, played Flute in Concert Band and Tenor Sax in Big Band all three years I was at Kent as well as receiving a Music Lesson Scholarship. I was also a member of the Music Society Committee in my second and final year.

What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent?
I think my experiences with the Music Society definitely helped me decide on what I wanted to do career-wise and allowed me to get enough experience to do a Masters in London after my degree.
Everyone says get involved with something at University, join as many clubs as you can – it looks good on your CV. I’m sure I rolled my eyes and brushed these sorts of comments off before and during University. but I can definitely say that it is true as much as you might be bored of hearing it! I’m pretty sure my musical activities have been discussed a lot more than my degree ever has in interviews.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent?
I think that would have to be every ArtsFest really (what’s now Summer Music Week). Although spending the morning in Eliot Hall rehearsing and blowing up balloons then rushing between concerts in the afternoon meant I didn’t get to see much of what else was going on I think it was those sorts of days that really made me think that’s what I wanted to do in the future.

What would you say to current musical students at the University ?
Make the most of Music at Kent! I don’t remember the hours spent in the library or Monday mornings in lectures half as well as I remember taking part in rehearsals and concerts.
It can be easy to skip rehearsals especially with essay deadlines and exams but that two hours of music will always be more productive than sitting staring at a screen and will probably give you the break from revision that you need. The rehearsals throughout the week are an excellent excuse to stop staring at computer screens or forcing myself to read books I wasn’t particularly interested in and focus on something a bit different!
Looking back I don’t really remember the hours spent in the library or in lectures but I do remember the rehearsals, concerts and socials.

Aug 06

Capturing the imagination of children and adults alike: interview with bOing Festival’s Ali Chambers

With the bOing! International Family Festival set to burst into life at the end of the month, I caught up with the newest member of the festival team, Ali Chambers, to find out what’s in store…

You’ve recently joined the Gulbenkian team; where have you come from, and what’s your background ?

I joined Gulbenkian at the end of June having worked for Canterbury Festival for five years doing logistics and education stuff! Events management is really my “thing” and I’ve done all sorts, from field festivals to international conferences but Festivals are my favourite. I love creating something from nothing; starting with an empty space and making something wonderful that disappears a few days later but creates lasting memories! Working with an artist to create the bOing map has been my favourite part of the job so far, you’ll see why when you see the map; a university campus reimagined!

What’s your role in bOing ?

Ali Chambers

Ali Chambers

bOing is approaching incredibly quickly and most of the planning has already been done so it’s just a case of pulling everything together and being a fresh pair of eyes. I’m creating an event management schedule so the team have a good overview of what’s going on and when, and a bit of an instruction manual to help them deal with particular events that could arise like lost parents (or children!)

As ever, the Festival couldn’t be done without the help of our bOing! volunteers and we’re still in need of a few helping hands, so perhaps anyone who is interested in volunteering could drop me a line.

Young people are at the heart of the Gulbenkian, and you’ve even got them involved in running events at bOing; what will that involve, and what’s the take-up / response been like ?

Gulbenkian has started a youth arts movement called ART31. We host a group of young people who are passionate about creating their own opportunities in the arts, so they’re running their own stage at bOing; programming it, performing, managing all the tech and also making the most of the opportunity to recruit new members of the movement so hopefully we’ll be very busy at the ART31 weekly meetings from now on! We’re realising that young people, teenagers in particular, are frustrated with not having anywhere to go or anything to do, so the take-up has been fantastic and you’ll definitely see some up-and-coming talent on the bOing ART31 stage.

I’ve heard rumours that you’re building a ‘small village’ for the festival; what on EARTH are we in for there ?!

It’s not just any old small village, Dan, it’s Wonderland! bOing! is all about capturing the imagination of children and adults alike, so anything could happen in Wonderland! Help to save the Lyma birds by finding his babies in the most imaginative game of hide-and-seek, join the improv orchestra, meet Long John Silver and have a go at parkour (you’ll definitely want to after watching The Urban Playground’s performance of STEAM!) Wonderland is full of free treats for all the family.

We’ve got hat-making and carnival mask workshops for anyone who feels the need to dress-up to join in the fun, and if it’s all a bit tiring you can chill-out in the storytelling tent  while the mini-ravers amongst us can party on at the Boogie Woogie Baby Disco!

If I wasn’t working at bOing I’d definitely be borrowing some children as an excuse to come along!

What’s bOing’s best-kept secret (if you can tell us!) ?

I’m most looking forward to Aracaladanza’s performance of Nubes. YouTube it if you’re not sure, I guarantee you’ll be buying tickets because it is simply beautiful! But there’s also going to be a teddy-bear launcher at bOing! called TedLeap for the bravest teddy-bears in Kent, and that’s something I’d definitely be bringing my teddy bear (Mr Bailey) to have a go at! I’ve also heard that The Forest is amazing – it’s for children aged 13+ with Profound and Multiple Learning Disabilities and it’s a multi-sensory trip into a dark and mysterious forest. Oh gosh there are too many – can I name drop Tiger Tale too? I’ll say no more, but look up page 10 of the brochure for a ballet about a tiger invasion! See you at bOing – I’ll be the one eating all the cupcakes from the cupcake decorating stall!

bOing_2015_logoFind out more about bOing! on Sat 29 and Sun 30 August here.

Aug 03

Dance with raindrops: Aurora Orchestra coming to bOing! festival

The ever-inventive Aurora Orchestra will be on our doorstep at the end of this month, when they bring what promise to be magical performances to the Gulbenkian as part of the bOing! International Family Festival.

Two concerts, aimed respectively at children up to the age of four and children aged five and over, will bring to life Bach’s Goldberg Variations in a mixture of interactive activities for the whole family, including the opportunities to ”dance with raindrops, jump with sheep and make a magic potion.”

aurora-3The early years concerts take place at various times on Saturday 29 and Sun 30 August (details here), whilst the Family Concert for ages 5 and above is on Saturday 29 August at 3.45pm (details here).

Come and immerse yourself and your family in what promises to be a fascinating and spell-binding exploration of one of Bach’s most enduringly popular works.

Full details about the bOing! festival online here.

Jul 31

Bouncing back for a second year: bOing International Family Festival: interview with Liz Moran

It’s a bright, summer morning in the Gulbenkian café, and already it’s a thriving hubbub of activity, with children clacking their way through in dance-shoes, beribboned with medals, parents hurrying after them, and an assistant carrying what appears to be a bucket of pink and mauve decapitated toy flamingos. It’s all part of the Canterbury Dance Festival, which is in full swing in the theatre.

Through the ebb and flow of dancers and harassed-looking parents shimmers the Director of the Gulbenkian, Liz Moran, who’s come to talk about bOing!, its family festival which is back for the second year running. I begin by asking her how the festival has developed since last year.

‘’It’s developed dramatically since last year,’’ she enthuses,  ‘’thanks to the additional funding from Arts Council England as a result of us becoming a National Portfolio Organisation. We have been able to bring to Kent some of the best international work created for young audiences from across Europe as well as a new commission in partnership with Conflux in Glasgow of a spectacular outdoor new outdoor show, Fragile.’’

Young people and families are at the heart both of the Gulbenkian itself and of bOing; how has she put a festival together to appeal to all ages ?

‘’The emphasis is on quality of work, and not just programming work for particular ages. We do include work that has considered the particular needs of babies or young people with PMLD but the majority of what is on offer will engage all ages. I believe the value of a festival such as this is that all ages can share incredible and inspiring work in a relaxed and fun environment.’’

I dare to suggest that one of the new works is something of a ‘Dances With JCBs;’ what exactly is Motionhouse ?

Image: Kent Online

Image: Kent Online

Her eyes light up immediately. ‘’Our commissioning of this new work is very exciting. I have worked with Motionhouse for many years and Kevin Finnan their Artistic Director was Choreographer and Movement Director for the Opening Ceremony of the London 2012 Paralympic Games. We have commissioned this with the Merchant City Festival in Glasgow as part of their Conflux Festival. It opened last weekend and attracted thousands to see it. It is mega! 3 JCB’s which really do dance in the company of 21 stunning and very brave dancers. This will be the English premiere, and you won’t be able to see it anywhere else!’’

And it’s not just happening in Canterbury this year;  bOing! is spreading its wings and going to Medway as well ?

‘’Yes! We are developing bOing! as a Kent festival and will develop more work in other areas of Kent besides Canterbury. The show we are taking to the streets of Chatham is by the UK’s leading Parkour company, Urban Playground. They will not only perform their show but will also work with teenagers to demonstrate how to do Parkour safely as many teenagers have been injured attempting Parkour. What is very exciting is that this has led to Medway Council building their own ‘Urban’ festival around this performance.’’

What, I ask, have been the challenges with putting together this year’s programme ?

‘’Lots and lots of different types of challenges ! Finding the right space for the enormous number of events we are offering is one but we have been fortunate to get so much support from across the University to meet this challenge. Also getting the balance between all of the free events and the wonderful international work that is ticketed.’’

And that’s part of the magic of this festival – its accessibility, and programme of events that are free to attend that runs alongside the ticketed performances. Keeping the balance between free and paid events is always going to be something of a financial challenge for a festival, but bOing! continues to make a significant proportion cash-free, encouraging families and audiences to try something new. And the range of events is appealing, too; whether it’s interactive theatre, immersive concerts from the brilliantly-inventive Aurora Orchestra, or innovative dance, the festival manages to bring new and exciting work to audiences of all ages.

And finally, I ask her, what’s bOing’s best-kept secret this year, if she can tell us ?

‘’Ah, well,’’ comes the reply, ‘’there are so many to discover…you have to come to find out – but the most wonderful one involves the show on the front cover of the bOing! brochure…’’

bOing_2015_logoAnd with that, our time is up and Liz shimmies off through the café through the thronging dance festival attendees, back off to mastermind more creative ideas for the future of the Gulbenkian. The bOing! International Family Festival 2015 takes place on Sat 29 and Sun 30 August; find out what’s in store here or download the brochure for yourself here.


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

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