In Conversation with Kate Romano: new podcast episode

If you missed last night’s Zoom For Thought: In Conversation screening with clarinettist, presenter and CEO of the Stapleford Granary venue, Kate Romano, you can either watch it again on our YouTube channel, or – if you prefer your content as a podcast – it’s now on our various podcast platforms, starting with Anchor:

Click here to listen.

A fascinating discussion, looking at new ways of engaging audiences, performers and listeners, re-thinking traditional concert-models, and looking at the implications of using digital platforms to provide musical experiences.

Captain Marvel: RIP Chick Corea

The world of music is mourning the loss of Chick Corea, legendary jazz pianist and composer, who died on 9th February at the age of 79.

Image via Jazziz

A colossus of the jazz piano stage, his endless creativity can be heard fizzing across the decades, whether as part of the broiling textures of Bitches Brew or Black Beauty behind Miles Davis, or the white-hot cultural meldings of Return to Forever’s fusion; the sinuous partnership duetting with Gary Burton; his Elektric Band and its kinder counterpart, the Akoustic Trio; or the stand-alone intimacy of Children’s Songs.

My ears were first opened to his music after a crate-digging spree with my father in a junk shop in West Worthing when I was around nine or ten; a jazz fan with a burgeoning record-collection, he emerged from the dusty recesses of the shop clutching a brace of cassettes – Secret Agent and the Return to Forever album, the latter adorned with a swirlingly psychedelic cover, the former sporting a young dude in a trilby. The neat, deft, and dazzling intricacy of ‘Fickle Funk’ (featuring Allen Vizzutti) was all it took, and from then on his music became a firm fixture in my listening. OK, the Elektric Band felt a little lacking in warmth, perhaps because Dave Weckl’s drumming was technically brilliant but lacking the loose-limbed fluidity of Jack DeJohnette or the neat trim of Ed Thigpen, or the generosity of Grady Tate – but I loved the tapestry of textures.

I saw him live in a solo piano tour at Leeds Town Hall in 1992, in my first year at university, travelling across to Leeds from York. And I witnessed a remarkable moment. During the concert, Chick announced he was going to play music by someone he truly admired, and opened a copy of Bach’s 48 Preludes and Fugues, and started to play. And every pianist’s nightmare happened – it must have been a new-ish score, as the pages slowly closed in front of him as he played. Turning to the audience (still playing), he gave a shrug as if to say ‘What can you do ?’ and carried on playing, and slowly moved out of Bach into an improvisation, opening out with a wondrous organic sense from Bach’s language and into his own, improvised extension-cum-response. It was amazing, and rightly received huge applause.

For me, nothing quite beats the gentle melancholy of ‘Crystal Silence,’ particularly in this wonderfully hushed duet with Gary Burton. 

And the energy of La Fiesta, Spain and 500 Miles High.

So, jazz has lost one of its most fiercely creative legends; but we have the catalogue of recordings to explore, enjoy, and at which to marvel still. He will be missed.

Scholars’ Spotlight: Ridima Sur

Our Scholars’ Spotlight series highlighting Music Performance Scholars and Award Holders continues on Friday, with a mesmerising performance by second-year Physics student, Ridima Sur.

Ridima performs Raga Yaman Bandish – Piya, an evening raga celebrating love, filling Colyer-Fergusson Hall with an extraordinary musical soundscape. The film will remain online after the screening.

Filmed in Colyer-Fergusson Hall at the University of Kent.

Filmed and edited by Thomas Connor, Luke McCann and George Morris.

Vinyl Countdown: live webshow launches Thurs 11 Feb

The Music Department is launching a new hour-long webshow, Vinyl Countdown, on Thursday 11 Feb at 2pm, broadcasting on its YouTube channel.

Each week,  a group of panellists will be invited into the virtual studio to talk about their nominated album – why they chose it, what they love about it, why it’s important to them – with the other guests, and then at the end of the show, guests and live viewers will be invited to vote for their favourite, resulting in Album of the Week.

Each guest’s nominations will be shared the week before each show, to give everyone a chance to listen to that week’s choices; a great opportunity to explore new albums, revisit familiar ones and vote for your favourite. Later episodes may even involve University staff…!

The first episode airs next week, and includes nominations for Queen’s 1975 album, A Night at the Opera, which spawned ‘Bohemian Rhapsody,’ by guest panellist Amy Tokel (reading Literature and Drama); Miley Cyrus’ Plastic Hearts nominated by Carmen Mackey (reading Drama & Theatre Studies); Jacob Collier’s Djesse vol.3 nominated by  second-year Physics student, David Curtiss and Blondie’s Parallel Lines, released in 1978, featuring ‘Heart of Glass,’ nominated by Sophie Meikle. The show is free to watch here on YouTube, and also on Facebook and Twitter:

Come and explore music old and new…


Image: Jace & Afsoon via Unsplash

New online In Conversation series launches with soprano Rachel Nicholls: Weds 3 February at 7.30pm

The Music Department is delighted to announce the launch next week of its new Zoom For Thought: Music Department In Conversation series, which begins on Weds 3 February at 7.30pm with soprano Rachel Nicholls.

Image credit: David Shoukry

The series of Wednesday night sessions features luminaries from the world of music in conversation with Head of Music Performance, Dan Harding. The series will be livestreamed on the Music Department’s YouTube channel, and will be free to watch – viewers will also be able to submit questions live during the event.

It’s an exciting opportunity to bring musical luminaries from the sector to a small screen near you, and to hear from artists working in the creative industry about their working lives and the challenges the current situation has brought.

Later sessions include Kate Romano, clarinettist, writer, presenter on BBC Radio 3 and CEO of the Stapleford Granary in Cambridge, and pianist and Artistic Director of the New Paths Festival, Libby Burgess.

The series gets underway with soprano Rachel Nicholls, one of the most exciting dramatic sopranos of her generation whose performing career has taken her across opera houses and concert halls throughout the world, in productions ranging from Mozart and Tchaikovksy to the role of Brünnhilde in complete Ring cycles for Longborough Festival Opera.

Rachel will be In Conversation on Weds 3 Feb at 7.30pm – everyone is welcome to watch what promises to be a fascinating insight into the working life of one of the country’s foremost sopranos.

Watch live online here:

Burns Night 2021: Address to the Haggis – Eloise Jack, bagpipes

Something different for Burns Night 2021 from the Music Department; on Monday, we present the Address to the Haggis performed by third-year Music Performance Scholar and bagpipe-player, Eloise Jack.

Together with her father, Ian, the event includes Eloise piping two pieces, followed by the oration, and closes with Eloise playing Scotland the Brave.

The event screens on Monday 25 January at 1pm, and will remain on catch-up.

Slàinte!