The academic year has now come to a close, and last week’s Summer Music celebrations saw the year out in fine style.
Hot on the heels of the traditional battle-of-the-bands competition, Keynestock, the five days of events in Summer Music saw a host of musical activities, each one reflecting a different aspect of music-making at Kent and highlighting musicians from across the University community and beyond, each taking their moment to bid farewell to the end of another year.
The Music Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital on the first day saw flautist Kathryn Redgers playing Bach, harpist Emma Murton in some jazz, marimba-player Carina Evans in some shimmering percussion textures, and soprano Marina Ivanova in dazzling form with some scintillating top-notes and effervescent cascading semi-quavers in Vivaldi’s Nulla in mundo pax sincera, accompanied by the University Camerata.
Later in the evening, the University Big Band under Ian Swatman enthused the Gulbenkian audience in a vibrant programme, that also saw some robust playing from special guests the Simon Bates Quartet and superb singing from Music Scholar and Big Band vocalist, Ruby Mutlow. Traditionally, there’s a moment when Ian invites all those performing for the last time to take a bow: only two players rose to their feet, leading to the suggestion that, with the influx of new players again next year, it might have to be re-christened the University Very Big Band!
St Mildred’s Church in Canterbury city hosted the Chamber and Cecilian Choirs, who combined in a programme of works for solo and double choirs; the church was packed, and an enthusiastic audience treated to works by Schütz and Van Morrison from the massed combined ranks of singers; there was also Lauridsen, Victoria and Hassler from the Cecilian Choir in the first half, and Barnum, Brahms, Rachmaninov, Lassus and Billy Joel from the Chamber Choir in the second half. String players from the University Orchestra welcomed the audience with some pre-concert quartet music, while the irrepressible tenor section of the Chamber Choir burst into spontaneous barbershop singing during the post-concert refreshments.
Saturday saw the Music Theatre Society topping a highly successful year with There’s No Business Like Show Business! in the Gulbenkian Theatre, a showcase bursting with music from West End shows, Broadway musicals and popular music theatre favourites.
Sunday afternoon saw the culmination of the week and the musical year as a whole, in the annual Music Society Summer Concert, with valedictory performances from the Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Choir and the University Chorus. The Concert Band paid a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the fact that it was the last concert in Eliot Hall – next year, we move to our exciting new music building – with a rendition of The Great Escape, whilst the Orchestra paid its own tribute with the last section of Haydn’s Farewell Symphony, which sees members of the orchestra slowly leaving the stage, leaving only two violins remaining to bring the piece, and the afternoon’s concert, to a close.
The whole series of events across Summer Music really encapsulates what making music at the University is all about. Embracing students, staff, alumni, members of the local community, family and friends, all of whom combine to rehearse and perform on top of their course- or work commitments, the dynamic of music at Kent is all about the community experience. It’s a terrific opportunity for students to pursue their musical interests as an extra-curricular activity alongside their studies, and for staff to find opportunities to step away from the stresses of their professional duties and participate in creative projects throughout the year. Members of the local community also perform in Concert Band, Big Band, Chorus, Cecilian Choir and Orchestra, from all walks of life; from teachers and lawyers to doctors and dentists, all find a warm welcome and a musical outlet at the University.
The tears flowed on Sunday, as students who are graduating from the University this summer saw their last concert coming to a close. But there’s a healthy camaraderie fostered amongst the University’s musical community that often sees graduates returning as alumni, both to attend concerts and also to come back and perform.
With thanks to everyone who has participated in music at Kent throughout this academic year, and good luck and best wishes to all who are graduating. We look forward to catching up with you all again next year, when the Colyer-Fergusson centre for Music Performance will welcome the resumption of music-making in the autumn. Watch this space…