Scholars’ Spotlight: Eloise Jack

Continuing the series profiling the year’s new crop of Music Performance Scholars and Music Award Holders. This week, first-year Bioscience student Eloise Jack pipes us all aboard…


I was encouraged to explore music from an early age and initially started playing the piano when I was six, as well as singing in a local choir. On changing schools, a year later, I was lucky enough to receive cello lessons, which got me interested in strings and I took up the violin soon after. There is a family connection here too, because my great, great grandfather made violins and I feel very privileged to own a violin that was made by him.

My family live in Salisbury, which offers fantastic opportunities for young musicians and as well as taking lessons, I was able to pursue my musical interests by joining Salisbury Area Young Musicians (SAYM). This organisation is run by dedicated volunteers and music teachers and holds weekly rehearsals offering the opportunity for young musicians of all abilities to play alongside others. Over the years I progressed and developed, participating in regular public performances with the orchestras and choirs, which included singing at the Royal Albert Hall in London. In addition to playing at SAYM, I also played the violin in my school orchestra, and sang in the school’s chamber and concert choirs.

My passion for bagpiping began when I was 12. On a family trip to Scotland to visit my grandparents, they took me to see the Royal Military Tattoo in Edinburgh. Pipe bands play a significant role in this event and when the massed bands paraded in front of Edinburgh Castle it was an amazing feeling and it was great to listen to the different bands playing together. It was a musical experience far removed from what I did with SAYM and I rather fancied having a go for myself.

On returning home and watching the repeat on television, I commented that I would like to learn to play the bagpipes, and in September 2012 my brother and I started lessons on the chanter. As soon as we had reached a level of basic proficiency, we were introduced to the bagpipes and joined the Southern Jacobites Pipe Band.

The Southern Jacobites is an active band and my first performance with them was in December 2013, at the Salisbury Christmas market. Since then, I have regularly taken part in band performances at carnivals, supporting parades and at private events. I have also been privileged enough to play with them at some unique events. In September 2014, the band performed with massed military musicians at the Tidworth Military Musical Pageant. In 2016 we supported the Treorchy Male Voice Choir and in 2017 we played alongside the National Symphonic Orchestra at the Great British Prom at Bowood House. Each performance was very different and gave me an opportunity to play tunes alongside other instruments that weren’t just pipes and drums.

That said, it is the traditional aspects of pipe music that has provided perhaps my most memorable experiences.

The ’Big Bang and Blow’ is an event that takes place in London, in support of the Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal. Pipers and drummers from all over the country converge on London and perform together at various locations throughout the day. I have participated in this event twice, the second time travelling up after lectures here at the University.

In a similar vein, but on a larger scale, in 2018 I travelled to Amiens in France to commemorate the centenary of the end of the First World War. Pipe Bands from all over Europe attended the weekend, but I was one of many who attended as an individual and joined an international band, ‘The Lone Pipers’, which is formed of pipers and drummers from all around the world. This was a completely new experience for me, as there was no common language spoken and the only way to communicate was through the power of music. To be able to visit the grave of a relative killed at the Battle of the Somme before performing, as well as visiting the graves of many others gave the performance a more meaningful feeling and playing alongside all the other bands in front of Amiens Cathedral is a memory I will never forget.

As well as performing as part of a band, I regularly perform both as a duet with my brother Hamish and as a soloist at weddings, parties, Burns’ Suppers and village fetes. Perhaps my most prestigious engagement as a soloist, was playing at Devizes Castle for the 50th Birthday of the vice-president of HSBC America, which was attended by guests from as far afield as Australia.

As well as playing traditional tunes, in my spare time I like to experiment playing styles of music that are not normally associated with the bagpipes. My inspiration for this came after seeing the ‘Red Hot Chilli Pipers’, a bagpipe rock band that plays contemporary pop and rock tunes, blending together pipes, drums, percussion and electric guitars. I have performed a rendition of ‘We Will Rock You’ at an Explorer Scout music festival and I am now learning some tunes by Queen.

Since joining the University of Kent as a Bioscientist undergraduate student, I have performed outside the Gulbenkian for Burns’ Night (pictured, right) and I have joined the Glenduart Pipes and Drums, a competition pipe-band based in Folkestone. This is another new experience, as this band plays in a different style to the marching performances that I am used to doing with The Southern Jacobites.
I am very grateful to be a recipient of the Music Scholarship, as it has allowed me to purchase a new bag for my bagpipes and has covered the travel and membership that I pay to practice with the Glenduart Pipes and Drum Band. I hope to continue to showcase my performance as a soloist whilst here at the University of Kent, but also in the future play alongside some of the other musicians who are here at the University.

Breathing Space: University Chamber Choir

Congratulations to the Chamber Choir, which participated in an unusual event last Friday at St Michael’s Church, Hernhill.

During the winter months, the church offers the opportunity to escape the pace of the Digital Age, and sit for an hour in a fifteenth-century venue by candlelight, listening to a sequence of music and silence as a means of creating a calm, meditative space in which to reflect and relax.

The Chamber Choir performed an evocative combination of choral music and silence by candlelight,  creating a meditative space rich in contrasting colours. The church bell striking eight o’clock during a moment of silence partway through was especially atmospheric, matched by the sighing of the wind in the roof, the creaking of the ancient timbers and the guttering candle-flames dancing in the draughty dark.

 

A magical experience for an appreciative congregation; the Choir is talking about doing the event again, so watch this (meditative) space…

Image round-up: Minerva Voices and the String Sinfonia

It’s been an action-packed musical week this week, with several events unfolding across three days.

Composer Russell Hepplewhite came to Colyer-Fergusson on Wednesday to hear Minerva Voices, the University’s upper-voice chamber choir, perform his recent work, Fly away over the sea, as part of the choir’s lunchtime concert. Members of the String Sinfonia joined the choir for a programme which includes music by Vivaldi, Mozart and Ola Gjeilo, alongside plainsong and an American spiritual

Russell Hepplewhite (centre) with Minerva Voices at the Lunchtime Concert

Minerva Voices, conducted by Dan Harding, in rehearsal that morning

Yesterday, the string were in action once again as the String Sinfonia performed a tea-time concert of serenades, including works by Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Britten’s Simple Symphony.

The action continues tonight, as the University Chamber Choir performs a meditative service by candlelight at St Michael’s Church, Hernhill, called Breathing Space, an hour-long event combining music and silence that creates a space for tranquility and reflection. The event starts at 7.30pm and is free, and draws the week to a close in an oasis of calm.

Which will last until next Friday’s annual roof-raising gala concert with the University Concert and Big Bands…

Concerts round-up: Chamber Choir at Wye and Peter and the Wolf

It was a busy weekend for the Music department; on Friday, the University Chamber Choir travelled out to perform at Wye Parish Church, at which the choir premiered three movements from Between Worlds by composer / violinist Anna Phoebe as part of an exhilarating programme.

And on Sunday afternoon, we were delighted to welcome back various alumni musicians as the University Camerata came together to perform Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, narrated by Senior Lecturer in Drama, Will Wollen.

(l-r): Familiar faces from yesteryear, alumni Charlotte Webb, Lydia Cheng, Cory Adams and Jasper Webb

Now to get on with the rest of this week…!

Paws for thought: farewell to Croft

The University Chorus bade a fond farewell to a very special member at the rehearsal last night.

Alumna Lydall Bywater, a member of the soprano section in the University Chorus, has been accompanied to rehearsals and concert over the last five years by her guide dog, Croft. Croft is notorious for regularly falling asleep as the music begins – even when seated behind the orchestral percussion!

Croft has now reached retirement age, and last night was his final rehearsal. He has been a popular figure at rehearsals and performances keeping Lydall company; we all wish him a much-deserved and happy retirement!

Scholar’s Spotlight: Megan Daniel

Continuing the series profiling new Music Performance Scholars and Award Holders. This week, first-year Law student,  flautist and saxophonist, Megan Daniel.


When I was 8 years old, I found my Auntie’s old flute in the attic and I was determined to be able to make a sound out of it. So, I began lessons and immediately discovered my passion for music. Soon after, I started piano and alto saxophone lessons and, 10 years later, I can say I have achieved grade 8 distinctions in both flute and jazz saxophone.

Throughout my school years, I was an enthusiastic music student, finding myself to be involved in almost every ensemble possible, such as concert bands, big bands and choirs. I was a member of my local student wind ensemble for 9 years and my county-wide ensemble in Hampshire for 5 years, taking on the responsibilities of principle saxophonist in each. In these ensembles, I was able to tour around Europe, playing in Berlin, Prague and the Black Forest, as well as many others! These were amazing opportunities which allowed me to visit places I may not otherwise have been able to see.

When I was 15, my school big band were lucky enough to be invited to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland – we played two shows to an audience of around 600 people, and it was the best experience of my life! Consequently, we were invited back again for two consecutive years. The same year, our big band and wind band won the regional Music for Youth competition and made it through to perform in the finals, held at Birmingham Symphony Hall, one of the country’s most incredible concert halls.

As I got older and joined college, more opportunities arose for me. I began to learn the clarinet, which allowed to me perform in pit bands for various musicals, such as‘Anything Goes and Guys and Dolls. I soon realised my immense love for playing in pit bands for musicals, because the vibe is really exciting and the music itself is so much fun to play! It was here that I truly began to appreciate the community that playing music allows you to be a part of.

Last year, I was a founding member of a student led wind ensemble which was assembled by a close friend of mine. What began as just a wind ensemble grew into an orchestra, big band and string ensemble that still put on concerts today, including a jazz evening this Easter! We play a mixed range of repertoire, from Holst’s First Suite in Eb to Malcom Arnold’s Four Scottish Dances.

In my final year of college, I played alongside the Scots Guard at Buckingham Palace with Hampshire County Youth Wind Ensemble, performing the Lord of the Rings symphony. To play amongst such talented musicians was amazing! Also, in April 2018, the same ensemble was invited to perform at the Royal Albert Hall and participate in the ‘Hampshire at the Hall’ event that had been organised by Hampshire Music Service. Our group played A Jazz Funeral by Christopher Coleman, which features two complicated alto saxophone solos which I was lucky enough to play. This was a truly nerve-wracking but extraordinary experience which I will never forget.


As a law student at Kent, I continue to enjoy music as an extra-curricular activity and as a way to relax after lectures and seminars. I am part of the University’s Concert Band, Big Band, Chorus, Cecilian Choir and Symphony Orchestra and Flute Choir.

I have also met many amazing people through music at Kent and am extremely grateful to be a recipient of the Music Performance Scholarship.


Read about other Music Scholars and Award Holders in the dedicated column here.

Worn and Weathered: new exhibition comes to Colyer-Fergusson Gallery in March

Music and art come together throughout the month of March, as the Kent-based collective of artists, Earthbound Women, presents a new exhibition in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery. Worn and Weathered will feature landscape in the extreme eroded by centuries of wind and relentless rain and the pounding of the sea.

Earthbound Women are united by a passion for clay, earth, form and landscape. Exhibiting together regularly, they record their dreams, annotations, observations, aspirations and their life in Kent. The exhibition features work by ceramicists Barbara Colla  and Clare Curtis, painter Julie Frampton, painter and printmaker Ruth McDonald, and printmaker Kristiina Sandoe.

Coastal Strata: Ruth McDonald
Russell Hepplewhite

The exhibition reflects the Lunchtime Concert which will be given by Minerva Voices, the University’s female-voice chamber choir, and ensemble on 13th March, and links particularly to the idea of exploring landscapes, in Tundra, an evocative piece by Ola Gjeilo reflecting part of his native Norway, and Fly away, fly away over the sea, a recent setting of a words by Christina Rossetti by the exciting British composer Russell Hepplewhite, who will be in attendance. The programme also includes music by Abbess Hildegard of Bingen. Both the concert and the exhibition explore concepts of the natural landscape, and also celebrate women in the arts, as musicians, writers, composers and artists.

Painting by Julie Frampton

Earthbound Women’s Worn and Weathered will be on display in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery from  Saturday 2 to Saturday 30 March during normal working hours; admission is free, and there is disabled access. The Lunchtime Concert by Minerva Voices and Ensemble is on Wednesday 13 March at 1,10pm in Colyer-Fergusson Hall; admission free, suggested donation £3, more details online here.

Chamber Choir sings Choral Evensong

Many thanks and congratulations to the members of the University Chamber Choir on delivering a fine Choral Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral yesterday.

The University Chamber Choir preparing to process into Choral Evensong

The students travelled down the hill to participate in the centuries-old tradition of evensong, with a colourful set of Responses written by David Truslove, and the evocative anthem Blest are the Pure in Heart by composer James Webb, both of which rang beautifully in the lofty roof of the Quire.

Composer James Webb and daughter (centre) with the University Chamber Choir in the Quire of Canterbury Cathedral

And thank you to James, who had travelled down to Canterbury especially to hear the Choir perform his piece. It was a lovely opportunity for the students to participate in the daily life of the Cathedral and experience the nature of the service of Evensong.

We return to the Cathedral for the annual Colyer-Fergusson concert in the Nave on Saturday 30 March, and the University Cecilian Choir will be singing Choral Evensong on Tuesday 28 May.