Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Siobhan Harper.
When were you at Kent?
I was at Kent from September 2006 until July 2009.
What subject did you study?
English Literature and Film Studies.
What occupation are you now engaged in?
I’m doing a Masters degree in English at the University of Exeter.
If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical experiences now?
I’m not sure I’d cope if I wasn’t doing something musical! After I graduated I was in the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus for a year, which was fantastic; we did loads of amazing pieces with some renowned conductors, and went on tour to Kuala Lumpur! Currently I’m in the Exeter University Singers, which is basically like a larger chamber choir. In fact, we’ve done a few of the same pieces that we did at Kent!
How were you involved in music whilst at Kent?
I was in the Chamber Choir and Chorus for the whole of my three years, in the society committee for the last two, and I had a singing scholarship and a music lesson scholarship. I also performed at Jazz @ 5, and at ArtsFest as part of Three Divas and a Piano. I think I had more contact hours with the music department than with my course!
What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent?
Definitely most importantly, I made some of my best friends through the music society, friends that I still can’t seem to get rid of! Every crypt concert we’re reunited as a big group and it’s always one of the best nights of the year.
Knowing that I can handle doing a university course and being an active part of a society is fantastic. Both required so much organisation and time management, and it’s great to know that I am capable of handling those two disparate things. The knowledge that I wanted to be doing all things musical alongside all my work was also fantastic; music has always been such a big part of my life and I loved being able to continue with it at university.
And, of course, my balloon-blowing skills have come along in leaps and bounds, thanks to ArtsFest.
What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent?
One particularly wonderful memory is of Jacob Barnes, Chamber Choir’s accompanist for my first two years of university. In our first crypt concert in 2007, Jacob performed, and it was the highlight of the concert; he was an extraordinary musician and we were all blown away by his performance. I wasn’t lucky enough to know him as well as others did, but I have the deepest sympathy for his friends and family. Rest in peace, Jacob.
My musical experience at Kent was so rich, it’s far too difficult to pick just one memory. So I won’t:
Every Chamber Choir crypt concert, and every post-concert trip to the Buttermarket. Paris Tour 2008. African drums in the cathedral crypt. All of Sue’s quotes that we noted down gleefully in every Chorus rehearsal. Sop Central. Tippett Spirituals. Every committee handover meal. Chili con Carne. Sneaking into the VIP tent at ArtsFest. Every chamber choir rehearsal in the OTE. Eric Whitacre’s Sleep. When my party popper didn’t go off during the ‘Champagne Polka’. Here Come The Girls. Having the chorus sing me ‘Happy Birthday’ on my 21st. Howard Skempton, and the signed photographs. Boozy Ss. Staying up to watch the sunrise after ArtsFest 2008.
What an unforgettable experience.