Scholar’s Spotlight: Olivia Condliffe

Continuing the series profiling this year’s new University Music Performance Scholars and Award Holders. This week, first-year bassoonist reading History, Olivia Condliffe.


I’ve been encouraged to play music from a young age, coming from a musical family. At first, I started on the recorder in Year Two, of which I played throughout primary school in various local recorder festivals, however I have always wanted to play the bassoon. I’m not sure entirely why, but the fact that it was such an odd and rare instrument, plus coming from a woodwind-based family, I felt a connection towards that section of the orchestra. Before I discovered the bassoon, I played the clarinet for a year and started learning piano, to show to my parents my commitment that I would have for the bassoon, and partook in a local clarinet group.

My high school had an excellent music department and I was really lucky to take part in the ensembles there. I played in the concert band and choir, going to Paris on tour in 2014, where we even played at Disneyland! I was also a founding member of the Bassbusters ensemble; made up of bass instruments which often aren’t showcased as much as melody instruments, such as the bassoon, baritone sax and cello. During school I was also part of the theatre pit band, performing musicals such as Les Misérables; this was an exciting way to play the bassoon with actors and artists.

I also had the chance to play in the junior and senior concert bands of local performing arts scheme in Staffordshire for eight years. I was also lucky enough to be part of the local bassoon ensemble; six of us at one point, a rarity in itself! I grew up in a tiny village and there was a myriad of musical activities there, I joined the community choir and was part of the village orchestra, which for a village of 1000 people, had 3 bassoons!

Outside of my area, I’ve also been privileged enough to be part of national orchestras such as the National Children’s Wind Orchestra and National Schools Symphony Orchestra; these were nonstop weeks of immersion with players from all over the country! I was part of the Liverpool Philharmonic Youth Orchestra for three years until I moved to university. I enjoyed playing with members of Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in venues such as Sage Gateshead and playing first bassoon in Scheherazade in July last year!

Since joining the University of Kent as a History student in September, I’ve tried to immerse myself in the wide range of musical ensembles that make up the department. One of the reasons I chose Kent was for its great facilities and the warm atmosphere in Colyer-Fergusson. One of the highlights of my first year was the production of Alice in Wonderland in February, in which I performed in a solo quartet with a full choir!

The woodwind section for the December concert

I am a member of the Orchestra and Concert Band and hold a Music Performance Scholarship, which gives me the brilliant opportunity to continue bassoon lessons. Since receiving this, it’s given me a chance to be much more confident in my playing, and I’m excited for all the music to come.

Scholar’s Spotlight: Sophia Lyons

Continuing the series profiling this year’s new Music Performance and Award Holder students at the University. This week, final-year soprano reading Drama and Theatre Studies, Sophia Lyons.


My role as a University of Kent Music Award Holder I owe to my parents, who tactfully introduced me to my first singing teacher aged 9. I had been adamant that I would ‘never sing in front of a stranger’, but as soon as my first lesson was over, I knew I would have a lifelong dedication to my voice. Once I had shed initial tears in my Grade 1 Trinity singing exam and achieved a Merit, I made a commitment to get to Grade 8, continue training my voice, and maybe even perform. I very much ‘caught the bug’. Once I had one exam under my belt, 11 year-old me grew the confidence to audition for Annie with a local amateur dramatic society, and was offered the main role. To this day, my Grandmother still talks about how shocked she was when she first heard me sing in the curly wig; “I had no idea you could even sing!”

After Annie, I transitioned into secondary school, and began undertaking a variety of vocal exploits. I started singing Soprano, and then Alto with my local church choir, which encouraged me to join the school chamber choir. I discovered I had a natural ear for picking up harmonies, without having the experience of reading music, which meant I often enjoyed singing the Alto harmony lines. I performed in all the school concerts, often solo’s from musicals such as Les Misérables, The Wizard of Oz, and Oliver, as well as solos in the local church around Christmas times. I also played principle roles in extracurricular shows, such as High Society, Bugsy Malone, and Little Shop of Horrors.

Alongside, I continued my classical training with Trinity, but as I grew into my teens, my tastes in music and my voice primarily began to change. As a result, I began tutoring young students in Acoustic popular performance, and experimented with modern folk music. Throughout sixth form, I was a part of Gareth Malone’s ‘Sing While You Work’ P&O Choir, and for a short while, attached to an entertainments company ‘Blue Lemon’ where I duetted with a male pianist and singer, singing at gigs locally.

I then began working part time as a bespoke wedding singer, crafting setlists made from the Bride and Groom’s favourite songs, (having sung several brides down the aisle, I learnt the real pressure that comes with creating the perfect atmosphere with one’s voice!) When reaching my final year at school, I achieved Distinction at Grade 8, and my teacher noted my voice had range and potential to suit a variety of styles, but for me, classical music stood firmly in the forefront, as it was challenging and therefore most rewarding.

Leaving school, I moved to the University of Warwick to study English and Theatre Studies, and decided to audition for their music bursary. Instead, I was offered the Alto Scholarship, and as a result joined the Warwick Chamber Choir, all-female choir Gaudeamus, and started training with a teacher who toured with the English National Opera. In my first year, I was working with extremely difficult classical music, such as Mozart, Bach, and Purcell, which, whilst initially intimidating, I began to conquer. Singing in three choirs meant my sight reading improved extremely quickly, and by the end of my first year, I found I could read at the same level as those who played instruments. I took part in pieces such as Mozart’s Requiem, Verdi’s Requiem, Belshazzar’s Feast, Durufle’s Requiem, and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. I was often selected to sing solo, the most challenging being ‘Pie Jesu’ from Durufle’s Requiem in The Stratford Chapel. I was given the opportunity to travel to Nice with the chamber choir, and was lead Alto in a singing project to connect French and Chinese music together in a “Transcultural Cantata”. I worked steadily with my singing teacher to increase my vocal range to three octaves, and began to branch out into a more mezzo-soprano range. At the end of my first year, I entered the Leamington Festival, and placed 2nd in the under 25’s and 1st in the Novice category. I joined the Musical Theatre society, MTW and the Opera society. I played ensemble and solo roles in Die Fledermaus and student written opera, Jurassic Park, and then took on the principle role as Joanne in the musical Rent, performed at the Warwick Arts Centre in 2018.

I then took a gap year and transitioned into second year at the University of Kent. Whilst on my gap year, I found myself yearning to perform again, and by summer 2019, I revisited the amateur dramatics society whom I had performed with 10 years ago. I was in Sondheim’s Sweeney Todd, playing the top soprano part Johanna. Taking on this challenge meant my voice grew to a top Soprano range. Sondheim’s music I found bridged the gap between musical theatre and classical styles, reigniting my love for both.

The soprano section of the Chamber Choir at the Carol Service in Canterbury Cathedral

Therefore, upon entering my third year studying Drama and Theatre at the University of Kent, I took the plunge and nervously auditioned for a Music Performance Award. I was desperate to get singing and performing again, and the music department at Kent has given me endless opportunities to do so, a highlight being singing  the solo opening verse of Once in royal David’s city to begin the annual University Carol Service back in December in Canterbury Cathedral! I am currently singing with the University Chorus, Chamber Choir, and Cecilian Choir. I am working with an incredible singing teacher, and have plenty of concerts coming up this year, leading up to my graduation in July.

Music at Kent has also influenced my degree. As part of a module, I was involved in a project with children at St Nicholas School, Canterbury, facilitating music and drama workshops for children who were at risk of being excluded from the Arts due to having a range of complex needs. I used my knowledge of vocal exercises to create ambience and sensory environments with the children, leading up to an Applied Theatre performance on the main stage at the Gulbenkian.

Third-year Sophia Lyons in the title role

This combination of Drama and Music has also transferred into my role as Alice in the production of the  ‘Musical Dream Play’ Alice in Wonderland, by the Music Department. Drawing on both of these skills has meant my time at Kent has been thoroughly musically fulfilling, full of challenges, which has helped improve my vocal and musical knowledge in the most exciting way. I have a lot of people to thank for seeing potential in that shy 9 year-old, and will be eternally grateful for every opportunity I have been given, especially at the University of Kent.


You can listen to Sophia talking about her experience of being in Alice in Wonderland in a broadcast on BBC Radio Kent‘s The Dominic King Show online here, starting at 27′ 52”.

Music on the marshes and a Russian fairy-tale in a busy weekend of music

Congratulations to all the performers involved in two concerts over the weekend, a busy time for the Music department which saw two contrasting events taking place both on and off-campus.

The University Chamber Choir and Consort travelled to the twelfth-century church of All Saints, Graveney, on Friday afternoon, heading out across the marshes near Faversham to rehearse and perform a vibrant programme, including the European premiere of Vow by American composer, Jocelyn Hagen; the choir and strings came together in several works, including the fiercely dramatic setting of the Stabat Mater by Rheinberger. The concert raised over £600 towards the church’s much-needed campaign to continue as a part of the Graveney community; our thanks to all the team at the church for making us so welcome.

Second-year assistant conductor, David Curtiss, led the Choir in part of the programme including a moving setting of The Road Home by Stephen Paulus.

And on Sunday, members of the University Camerata teamed up with Senior Lecturer in Drama, Will Wollen, to perform Prokofiev’s popular Peter and the Wolf once more, in what looks set to become an annual tradition. We welcomed back some familiar faces as alumni musicians joined the ensemble of students and staff for a rousing family concert.

And it doesn’t stop there: in two weeks’ time, we have two events again – Music Performance Scholars in a Lunchtime Concert on Weds 18 March, and the hugely-popular roof-raising gig from the University Concert and Big Bands on Friday 20 March. Make sure you’re keeping up…!

Scholars’ Spotlight: Harry Micklewright-Taylor

Continuing the series profiling this year’s new Music Performance  Scholarship and Award Holder student; this week, first-year guitarist, Harry Micklewright-Taylor.


I began playing acoustic guitar around the age of 6; I started with group lessons but quickly progressed to individual lessons. I started to perform in my primary school concerts, both in guitar groups and as a soloist. At age 8, I also took up piano lessons, while my guitar lessons became more focussed on classical guitar. At age 12, I joined Maidstone Youth Music Society (MYMS) where I learned to play orchestral percussion.

During secondary school, I joined a club called ‘Acorn Band’ where I played keyboard. I also performed a short piano piece in year 7 as part of an inter-house music contest in front of the whole school. In year 8 I took up electric guitar and my liking for rock music grew dramatically. Although it was not until around year 9 that I started intense practice. This was largely due to my introduction to virtuoso guitar players such as Steve Vai and Yngwie Malmsteen, who would often take inspiration from classical music to combine with rock and produce complex music.

During these years I became a part of a Kent Music project called ‘Orchestra One’ which brought a variety of musicians of different abilities together to compose and perform music. The music was usually based around a theme like ‘space’; needless to say, it wasn’t uncommon for this music to be somewhat abstract and complex due to the different interpretations. My first performance with ‘Orchestra One’ was at the Hazlitt Theatre where I played a lead role amongst the other musicians, and had an extended guitar solo within one of the pieces we composed. Throughout the rest of my ‘Orchestra One’ performances, I retained my role as a soloist and we even performed once at a musical showcase held in the Gulbenkian. Another Kent Music project I was involved in was called ‘Rockshop’. Again, I played a lead role with regular solos, but this time the group was much smaller and represented a rock band.

In terms of solo performances, I became heavily involved in school concerts and would often play very challenging pieces. One time for a Christmas concert I arranged a few Christmas songs into an instrumental guitar version. Outside of school, I also played a solo piece at the Herne Hill Music Festival.

In year 11, my band and I performed Creeping Death by Metallica as part of the school show. I will always remember half the band wearing wigs (to match my own curly locks), as well as my guitar solo, that I played with my teeth. The following year we played The Trooper by Iron Maiden, for which we received thunderous applause. During my last few years at secondary school, I also played lead guitar in three school musicals. The first of these was Schools Will Rock You where I ended up standing precariously on top of two amps during my guitar solos. The other two were Little Shop of Horrors and Oliver, where my role of guitar player was often expanded to include xylophone and tambourine (as I was also an orchestral percussionist).

At the end of my 7 years at MYMS playing percussion, I had progressed to the flagship orchestra and won the MYMS musician of the year award with the rest of the senior percussionists. Much to my delight, MYMS decided to hold a concert where members could showcase their abilities on other instruments, so naturally, I was able to show off my guitar playing to a crowd that hadn’t before witnessed it.

As I am studying Music Technology at the University of Kent, I have been able to make good use of my playing in my course, as well as being able to see it from a different perspective. I have become a regular at Music Society events, held every Tuesday at the Deep End in Medway. I usually play guitar in a cover band called ‘Pod 3’, although I have also been known to fill in for bass and even electric ukulele. I sometimes play solo performances as well. Along with this, I have joined Medway Session Band and the Guitar Ensemble, which both give me more opportunity to experience a wide range of music. I am also hoping to play guitar in the musical ‘American Idiot’, in association with the MADS drama society. I intend to make the most of all the musical opportunities available to me while I am at Kent.

Debussy at Dockside: Music Scholars perform at Medway

Congratulations to University Music Performance Scholars Tom Wust and Meg Daniel, who performed trio music at the  Galvanising Cafe last Friday as part of Dockside Live, a series of lunchtime concerts each Friday during term-time run by the University’s Arts and Culture team.

A home-turf event for fourth-year clarinettist Tom, who reads Business Studies on the Medway campus, the concert also featured second-year flautist and Law student, Meg, in a colourful programme with Your Loyal Correspondent joining them on the piano in the Petit Suite by Debussy,  the slow movement of Piano Concerto K467 by Mozart,  and closing with three cheeky waltzes by Shostakovich.

The Galvanising Cafe is a great, informal performance space, and the opportunity to avail oneself of coffee and pre-concert toasted sandwiches and fries is never one to miss…

Following the concert, we grabbed some of the students in the audience who had travelled over from Canterbury to visit the HMS Gannet, and then a crucial post-performance analysis over a meal at Nando’s with the Medway Music Engagement Officer, Chris Barrett (pictured, right).

Our thanks to Chris for the opportunity to participate in the Dockside Live series – we look forward to coming back…

Domestic Parlour Music and beyond in the nineteenth century and its literature

As part of the Alice in Wonderland project by the Music department this year, the programme to the performances includes an essay on domestic music-making during the nineteenth-century by Dr Siobhan Harper. An alumna of the University of Kent and former Music Scholar, Siobhan read English Literature at Kent and graduated in 2009; she obtained her PhD in Victorian Literature at the University of Durham, and in the essay examines the role of music, and its portrayal in literature, during the era in which Alice in Wonderland was first published. Her essay, which features in the programme accompanying the performance of the Musical Dream Play, appears here in its entirety.


A sound of music issued from the drawing-room’: Domestic Parlour Music and Beyond in the Nineteenth Century and its Literature

England in the nineteenth century was known as ‘Das Land ohne Musik’ – the land without music. This is, of course, a ludicrous claim, and one that was heavily contested by musicologists at the time; there is ‘no doubt that professional and domestic music-making was an important part of daily life’.[1] So much so, indeed, that ‘much of the literature of the period is rich with musical scenes and themes’, with ‘novels throughout the century […] brimming with scenes at the piano’.[2]

The British were, however, ‘musical and not musical, depending on the speaker’[3] – and, more importantly, the subject. Music was for ‘women, foreigners, industrial workers, and professional musicians’, to the extent that it was considered an ‘emasculating [and] debasing activity for men of the aspiring middle classes and nobility to practise’; men of these classes were the audience only, always distanced.[4] Music was, then, ‘largely gender specific’, since it ‘was one of the few fields in which most middle- and upper-class girls were educated, and boys were not’.[5] As such, it was inextricably tied up with ‘perceptions of ideal femininity’.[6]

It was domestic music that dominated the first half of the nineteenth century, and ‘any household that could afford one was likely to possess a piano’.[7] But owning a piano was about far more than the instrument itself: it indicated that ‘not only can the family afford a piano, sheet music, lessons and leisure time, but the choice of instrument, the piece being played, and [the pianist’s] manner of execution all communicated her genteel taste, or lack thereof’.[8] The piano, its player, and all of the accoutrements therefore ‘visibly and audibly demonstrated a man’s respectable social standing and financial well-being to those who shared the same cultural capital’.[9]

Theodore Robinson, Girl at Piano, circa 1887

The quotation above specified ‘her genteel taste’ with good reason – for it was always her. The piano was the middle-class luxury ‘most significant in the lives of women’; it was ‘an emblem of social status’, a ‘gauge of a woman’s training in the required accomplishments’, and ‘its presence afforded women a particular distinction within domestic culture’,[10] as girls and women ‘performed for select gatherings of peers after dinner’.[11] And while men of this class certainly sang – think of Frank Churchill in Jane Austen’s Emma (1815), who is ‘accused of having a delightful voice, and a perfect knowledge of music’, and Mr Rochester in Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847), who ‘has a fine bass voice, and an excellent taste for music’ – this was generally only when accompanied by, and often duetting with, a woman. The most prominent male pianist exhibited in the literature of the period is Herr Klesmer, in George Eliot’s Daniel Deronda’s (1876), who is at once both foreign and a professional musician and music teacher; an outsider in two respects.

The performers of choice in the middle- and upper-class home were unmarried daughters, to the extent that ‘it seems that the greater use of amateur music was to obtain a good marriage’.[12] After all, as William Makepeace Thackeray’s Vanity Fair (1848) espouses, what else could cause young people ‘to labour at pianoforte sonatas, […] and to play the harp if they have handsome arms and neat elbows, […] but that they may bring down some “desirable” young man with those killing bows and arrows of theirs?’. After-dinner or social performances in the parlour ‘presented potential suitors with an opportunity to watch a young lady’s graceful and beautiful movements, […] and/or to note her father’s social status which allows her enough leisure to practise music’.[13] But it was just as important for these young women to play appropriately as it was to play well: daughters playing ‘rigorous works which required virtuosic skill […] brought censure’,[14] and being ‘too technical is equated with being unladylike’.[15] Not least of the reasons for this was because ‘most male audience members were musically illiterate’,[16] and desired a wife with musical skill in order to relax and soothe, as Tertius Lydgate, of George Eliot’s Middlemarch’s (1873), muses that the society of a wife should be like ‘reclining in a paradise with sweet laughs for bird-notes’.

Chamber Music Concert, Jules Alexandre Grun, circa 1885-90

In addition to the music itself, the instruments that women were allowed to play were carefully regulated. The ‘model young lady sang and/or played the piano, the harp, or the guitar’; these instruments ‘were thought to display the player’s posture and movements advantageously’, and so ‘assisted the family’s upward mobility’ by way of their daughters’ advantageous marriages.[17] Violins were objected to on the grounds that ‘the players looked unattractive’,[18] and ‘the flute was especially problematic because of its shape’, which had been ‘a favourite symbol of masculinity’ during the eighteenth century. Given the disapproval of the flute for female musicians, we can only assume that the clarinet would have met with even worse favour due to the angle at which it is played; the bassoon due to its size; and the cello due to its unfortunate positioning between the legs. History does not relate the culture’s opinion of the piccolo, and one wouldn’t care to speculate whether its size would have made it more or less acceptable in the eyes of those who thought the flute too suggestive.

Despite the limited range of instruments available for amateur middle- and upper-class women, and although the piano held ‘indisputable prevalence … in the home’,[19] it is important to note that domestic music comprised more than just this instrument. String quartets also found a place in the parlour, principally made up of male amateurs or male professionals, and some with accompaniment from a female pianist.[20] A writer in 1924 ‘[deplored the] public’s ignorance of wind chamber music’ in the preceding century,[21] so it seems that this was much less popular for a home environment. These examples are few; but while it’s certainly true that domestic music remained firmly under ‘the smothering influence of the parlor piano, the ubiquity of which is impossible to deny’,[22] their existence does demonstrate that this was not a hegemony.

As the century wore on, however, the consumption of and knowledge surrounding music began to change. The school curriculum widened in 1839 to formally include music lessons.[23] The lower classes experienced wage increases, particularly in the 1860s to 1890s, while, concurrently, ‘music for the masses grew at unprecedented rates’.[24] Band competitions started in 1853 with the Belle Vue Contest, choir festivals began in 1855 in Manchester (excluding the notable history of Welsh choir competitions, of course), and ‘by the end of the century, there were thousands of brass bands and choral societies in Britain’.[25] More people were able to ‘participate in music-making’, and, importantly, ‘concert attendance rose mid-century as rural and urban workers took advantage of this newly available entertainment’.[26] An 1860 article in Macmillan’s magazine examined this phenomenon as it happened:

Not many years ago an orchestral symphony or a stringed quartet [sic] were luxuries hardly to be indulged in by those Londoners whose guineas were not tolerably numerous. Times are changed for the better; and not a week passes, even in the dullest season of the year, that some good music is not to be heard at a cheap rate in London.[27]

Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South (1855) alludes to this phenomenon as it affected northern cities; the fictional town of Milton (modelled on Manchester) has ‘good concerts’, though Fanny Thornton complains that they are ‘too crowded’ since ‘the directors admit so indiscriminately. But one is sure to hear the newest music there’.

There was at this point so much ‘performed music … available to an increasingly mobile […] audience by the middle of the nineteenth century’[28] that it was almost inevitable that the number of players of music would increase in a similar fashion. Pianos began to be ‘affordable by families further down the social scale’,[29] which was unacceptable to the classes of women for whom the piano had been theirs; there was suddenly ‘a need to secure a respectable domestic instrument for women from the upper social classes’ as a result.[30] By the 1870s, the violin’s grace overruled the unattractive appearance of the players, and women were permitted to take up this instrument.[31] Similarly, the flute was deemed acceptable for women once the phallic symbolism was overcome by supporters of female flautists encouraging focus ‘on the flute’s sound rather than the flautist’s picture’.[32] And ‘the cultural unacceptability for women to learn string instruments’ as a whole ‘finally crumbled around 1870’, and ‘many middle- and upper-class women took up the violin, viola, and cello’ as a consequence.[33]

Victorian music-making

Domestic music did not wane, but music consumption outside of the home widened and diversified hugely. The first performance of Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Dream Play for Children and Others in 1886 is situated in the centre of this expansion of music in the period. The musical choices made for this performance echo, without mimicking, the forms that domestic, amateur music-making took in the period; while remaining faithful to the musical styles of the period, these musical choices also succeed in evoking the changes that were occurring musically as the nineteenth century progressed. The small instrumental ensemble is reminiscent of the piano-accompanied performances, while the presence of the flute, clarinet, and bassoon are representative of the diversification of instruments and types of performance that occurred outside of the home, particularly in the last four decades of the period. Moreover, that the flute and bassoon are played by women gives more than a passing nod to the ‘cultural unacceptability’[34] of these instruments for female performers – even, or perhaps especially, in a private, domestic setting – only 150 years ago.

It is surely impossible to give an impression of a whole century’s musical fashions, endeavors, and habits; such an expanse would not be easily captured. The musical choices made here are, however, both gloriously resonant of the enduring and venerated domestic parlour performances, and evocative of the sweeping and significant musical expansion that marked the last half of the nineteenth century. All this pouring forth from ‘Das Land ohne Musik’.

© Dr Siobhan Harper January, 2020

Bibliography

Baron, John H., Chamber Music: A Research and Information Guide (New York: Routledge, 2010).

Bashford, Christina, ‘Historiography and Invisible Musics: Domestic Chamber Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 63, No. 2 (Summer 2010), pp. 291-360.

Burgan, Mary, ‘Heroines at the Piano: Women and Music in Nineteenth-Century Fiction’, Victorian Studies 30.1 (Autumn 1986), pp. 51–76.

Clapp-Itnyre, Alisa, Angelic Airs, Subversive Songs: Music as Social Discourse in the Victorian Novel (Ohio, Ohio University Press, 2002).

da Sousa Correa, Delia, George Eliot, Music and Victorian Culture (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).

Gray, Beryl, George Eliot and Music (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1989).

Weliver, Phillis, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900: Representations of music, science and gender in the leisured home (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2000).

[1] Weliver, Phillis, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900: Representations of music, science and gender in the leisured home (Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Limited, 2000), pg. 19.

[2] Clapp-Itnyre, Alisa, Angelic Airs, Subversive Songs, pg. xv.

[3] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 20.

[4] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 19.

[5] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 21.

[6] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 1.

[7] Gray, Beryl, George Eliot and Music (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 1989), pg. 1.

[8] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 33.

[9] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 33.

[10] Burgan, Mary, ‘Heroines at the Piano: Women and Music in Nineteenth-Century Fiction’, Victorian Studies 30.1 (Autumn 1986), pp. 51–76, pg. 51.

[11] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 33.

[12] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 33.

[13] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 33.

[14] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 34.

[15] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 36.

[16] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 37.

[17] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 47-8.

[18] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 48.

[19] Bashford, Christina, ‘Historiography and Invisible Musics: Domestic Chamber Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, Journal of the American Musicological Society, Vol. 63, No. 2 (Summer 2010), pp. 291-360, pg. 303.

[20] Bashford, ‘Historiography and Invisible Musics: Domestic Chamber Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, pg. 307.

[21] Baron, John H., Chamber Music: A Research and Information Guide (New York: Routledge, 2010), pg. 94.

[22] Bashford, ‘Historiography and Invisible Musics: Domestic Chamber Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, pg. 312.

[23] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 28.

[24] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 27.

[25] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 28.

[26] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 28.

[27] ‘Classical Music and British Musical Taste’, Macmillan’s, quoted in Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 29.

[28] Gray, George Eliot and Music, pg. 1.

[29] Bashford, ‘Historiography and Invisible Musics: Domestic Chamber Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, pg. 317.

[30] Bashford, ‘Historiography and Invisible Musics: Domestic Chamber Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, pg. 317.

[31] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 48.

[32] Weliver, Women Musicians in Victorian Fiction, 1860–1900, pg. 50.

[33] Bashford, ‘Historiography and Invisible Musics: Domestic Chamber Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, pg. 294.

[34] Bashford, ‘Historiography and Invisible Musics: Domestic Chamber Music in Nineteenth-Century Britain’, pg. 294.

Scholar’s Spotlight: Beth Chapman

Continuing the series profiling this year’s new crop of University Music Performance Scholars and Award Holders. This week, first-year flautist reading German and English Language and Linguistics, Performance Scholar Beth Chapman,


I actually had a bit of a late start to my musical journey, and that’s not even talking about the flute! I moved around a lot as a kid, constantly meeting new people and relocating to new houses so it wasn’t until I really settled somewhere, that I decided to give music a shot. I first learnt to play the piano aged 8 in Ottawa, Canada but after moving back to England, I struggled to find my enjoyment in the piano again and after 2 years I decided to quit. Despite this, I have now actually got back into playing the piano for fun and enjoy just messing around and learning pieces.

Luckily, I am not the only musical person in my family, my mum also plays the flute and piano and sings in our local Military Wives’ choir. Due to this, I decided aged 11 I would start the flute and had my first lesson at the end of year six. My most vivid memory of my first lesson was how out of breath I was, going back into my classroom proudly showing off my flute case to my classmates as it was that shiny new toy. (well actually the flute was about 30 years old!) I’d had a really thorough musical education in all my primary schools, playing in the school orchestra and singing in the choir but it wasn’t until I reached secondary school that I really started understanding the joys of music.

In year 7, I joined my school’s orchestra and junior choir, (Hinchingbrooke School in Huntingdonshire) but despite this, it wasn’t really until the beginning of year 9 in which I picked music as an ‘option’ – a bit like a precursor to GCSEs- that music started to make sense for me. During this period, I was continually playing in the school orchestra, but also started taking part in the pit band for the school’s musicals, playing both flute and piccolo, and the most intense by far was Sweeney Todd! I also continued to sing in the senior and community choir in my final few years at Hinchingbrooke. Throughout secondary school and Sixth Form, I had the opportunities to lead the flute choir, as well as take part in the biennial Christmas concert performance of Raymond Briggs’ The Snowman, originally playing second flute, then moving to first flute in year 11; a huge achievement for me.

What also helped was joining our local music school (HUMS, pictured above) in which I was taught for a period of time and also played in a concert band there as well as in the recorder group with my mum. We both love the recorder, and currently own a wide range of sizes from descant to bass! At the end of year 10, I had the wonderful experience to travel to Marburg, Germany with one of orchestras HUMS. We travelled there to take part in a music festival, and joined other groups from Bulgaria, Slovakia, Austria and Germany. We went for four days, leaving at 2am and driving all the way to Marburg, to then perform in the evening! We played in concerts every day, alongside being able to view the brilliant other dancers and performers, and the lovely market town of Marburg. It was a really great experience and allowed me to really get an understanding of different music styles

I studied music at GCSE and A-Level, in which I found my love for analysis of music and writing chorales, as I loved the rules and logic behind them. A-Level was interesting for me as I was the only person in my class for two whole years(!), but despite this, I had a wonderful time, visiting the Birmingham Conservatoire and taking part in annual workshops with lecturers there, as well as viewing the rehearsals for Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (one of my favourite pieces!). I was also lucky to be involved with much more performing in Sixth Form, partly due to my wonderful music teacher’s great encouragement (Thanks Mrs Cooke!). In my final year, I was lucky enough to play in my school’s “Rising Stars” concert as well as Sixth Form Celebration Evening which were both overall a wonderful way to end my 7 years at Hinchingbrooke.

Since joining the university of Kent as a German and English Language and Linguistics student (it’s a mouthful I know!) I’ve thrown myself into the musical options available. I chose Kent especially for its wonderful music facilities and was a huge deciding factor when picking my top choice. I currently take part in the Concert Band and Orchestra and am a holder of the Music Performance Scholarship. Surprisingly, I’m not actually an incredibly confident performer, but since receiving the Music Performance Scholarship, it’s given me a chance to play in much larger ensembles, which is something I never had the opportunity for before, as most ensembles I played in had around 20 or less members, and I’ve seen how this has helped my confidence! So far, I have taken part in one concert with the Orchestra (pictured), which was such a fantastic experience, as I’ve never performed something of that scale before. I’m incredibly excited for the Canterbury Cathedral concert in March, as well as the Summer Music Week later on in the year.

Image Gallery: Alice in Wonderland – a Musical Dream Play

Congratulations to the University Cecilian Choir, soloists and instrumentalists on a marvellous performance of the Victorian stage adaptation of Carroll’s classic tale – Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Dream Play which came to life in Colyer-Fergusson Hall for the first time since 1927.

Third-year Sophia Lyons in the title role

The adaptation, overseen by Carroll himself and first performed in 1886, was brought to vivid life by University musicians, including students and staff from across the university community, Music Performance Scholars and Award Holders, in a reconstruction by Deputy Director of Music, Dan Harding, who also played the piano as part of the onstage chamber ensemble which accompanied the production.

If you missed it, the production returns to Colyer-Fergusson for a second performance on Friday 29 May, to launch this year’s Summer Music Week. #AliceatUKC will return…

Images © Matt Wilson / University of Kent