Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Miles Banbery.
When were you at Kent ?
1990-1995 as a student – ever since as a member of staff!
What subject did you study ?
BA (Hons) in History and MA in Medieval and Tudor Studies.
What occupation are you now engaged in ?
I’m the Web Editor for the University of Kent.
If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical experiences now ?
I belong to two local chamber choirs (one of whom I occasionally conduct and more regularly act as rehearsal pianist for) and get involved as a ‘dep’ or ‘bumper’ with a variety of local chamber choirs, church choirs and choral societies. In addition, I sing in and organise a quartet who sing a monthly unaccompanied mass at a local church. Sometimes we grow to 8 or 12 members for special occasions but always stick to the 16th century English and continental European unaccompanied repertoire.
How were you involved in music whilst at Kent
I sang in the University Chamber Choir and University Chorus as well as taking my turn conducting the Chamber Choir and the Big Band. In addition, I served as a committee member for both the Chamber Music Society and the Jazz and Blues Society. I also performed in the chorus for Tosca in the Gulbenkian and for The Pyjama Game in the Marlowe. Later on I also had the opportunity to be musical director to student productions of Cabaret and My Fair Lady as well as vocal coach for Joseph.
What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent ?
I gained hugely from the opportunities given to students to perform as soloists, gain experience of musicals and operas and also get to conduct/direct if they wanted. That kind of experience is invaluable and, whilst its tempting to keep standards high by using local semi-pros and pros, student experience and development is so important. The solo and conducting experience I got at Kent hugely improved not just my skills in those areas, but my confidence presenting in front of large groups of people and choir work is great for learning key team skills.
I also learnt how much comes to those who are willing to organise it themselves! Its no good waiting for others to bring opportunities to you!
What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?
Difficult to pick just one! Chamber Choir tours to Prague including the one I conducted must be top, but I remember a wonderful Messiah in St. Peter’s Methodist Church and a wonderful Monteverdi Vespers in Wye Parish Church. I have to say how much I enjoyed the annual ‘Messiah from Scratch’. A great introduction to Kent for singers and players alike.
What would you say to current musical students at the University ?
Take every opportunity to perform you can get without failing your degree! Also, don’t neglect your practice and technique like I did! 🙂
If you’re a musical alumnus and would like to be featured, get in touch via the Music Department website: we’d love to hear from you!