Don’t Blake my heart: Kent alumnus back at the Gulbenkian

Last week, the all-male vocal group ‘Blake’ gigged at the University’s Gulbenkian Theatre, and featured one of Kent’s musical alumni in the line-up. Director of Music Susan Wanless sneaked into the back row to see how he’s getting on…

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One of the delights of being the Director of Music is to follow the subsequent careers of all our musical alumni when they leave Kent and go out into the big bad world. None has had a higher profile than tenor Humphrey Berney (E99). Having been a music scholar at Kent, conductor of the Chamber Choir and star of the summer operas, he went on the Royal Academy of Music and then worked with opera companies such as Glyndebourne and Garsington. In 2009 he joined the Classical BRIT awarding-winning group, Blake and now performs all over the world.

Last Wednesday, as part of the Canterbury Festival, Blake gave a concert here on campus. It was really great to see Humphrey again, and he was clearly delighted to back at his alma mater and the Gulbenkian Theatre, reminding the audience that the last time he appeared on its stage he had actually been hanged when he starred in The Beggar’s Opera! The concert was packed out and the group clearly appeals to all age groups … and particularly the ladies!

I confess that I thought that the programme would be too ‘cheesy’ for me, but I was swept away by the group’s consummate professionalism, musicianship and chemistry with the audience and loved every minute of it! They received a standing ovation at the end and were swamped by adoring fans in the foyer afterwards to sign programmes and CDs. As you can see, I did manage to catch up with him briefly, before he left Canterbury to head out to the Philippines tomorrow to continue his musical jet-setting career.

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