All posts by Daniel Harding

Deputy Director of Music, University of Kent: pianist, accompanist and conductor: jazz enthusiast.

Summer Music Week: Saturday Gala concert

Congratulations to everyone involved in Saturday’s annual Music for a Summer’s Day Gala concert, the crowning event as part of Summer Music Week.

The University Chorus, Orchestra and Chamber Choir each gave a final, valedictory appearance in seasonal, summery music, whilst the members of the Limoncellos filled the foyer before the concert with stirring film tunes and pop music arrangements.

Assistant conductor Hannah Ost rehearsing the Chamber Choir ahead of the concert
The Limoncellos performing in the foyer ahead of the Gala concert

Final-year sopranos Helen Sotillo and Fleur Sumption brought a packed hall to tears with a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone on the final occasion of their singing with the Music department in what has proved to be a memorable year for both ladies.

The incoming President of the Music Society, second-year Owen Kerry, provided some scene-stealing moments as he deftly wielded name-cards (and at one point a mobile phone for a couple of selfies…) as part of An Illustrated Guide to the History of the Symphony.

And final-year flautist Robert Loveless was handed the baton to conduct the traditional encore which brought the concert to a rousing conclusion.

Following the concert, audience, performers and guests spilled out into the marquee for the annual cream tea, for which the sun shone and blue skies bloomed overhead.

What becomes apparent at the end of the Gala concert is what a wonderful sense of community has been built up during the academic year by everyone involved in extra-curricular music-making at the University. It’s a real tribute to how committed everyone is, and how involved they have become, to see so many of those graduating so moved by the occasion of their final appearance; parents, friends and family all coming along to support throughout the series of events often remark on how much being a part of music at Kent has meant to the students involved throughout their time. There’s a lovely feeling of camaraderie throughout the entire week, as the various ensembles gather for a final musical hurrah before the academic year ends.

Our thanks to everyone who has been a part of the Music department across the year; undergraduate and post-graduate students, staff, members of the community and all the alumni who have returned at various points either to participate or to be part of the audience. To all those who are leaving this year: thanks for all your contribution – hail and farewell!

Leaving your comfort zone: Corinna Jung on her musical year at Kent

Corinna Jung came to the University in September from Germany to study International Criminal Justice as a postgraduate. Here, she reflects on her musical time at Kent and the importance of music to her life alongside her legal studies.


When I was considering universities to apply for my postgraduate studies, not only was I trying to find one, which mirrors my academic interests best, but also it has been equally important for me to choose a place, where I can make music and play the violin in an orchestra again.

During the six years of my undergraduate degree in Germany, I was a member of the University Symphony Orchestra, and as I look back, many of my best memories of my study time in Germany have a musical background: I enjoyed making music with people, who share the same passion for music as I do and I met wonderful colleagues who have become my best friends over the years. In addition to that, I am sure I wouldn´t have managed to deal with all my exams and assignments without that kind of support and balance. Therefore, I was more than happy to realise that the University of Kent not only has a fantastic law school, but also a strong music department with plenty of opportunities for students to get involved in. Regardless of
whether you play the violin, the trumpet or sing – there are so many different student ensembles to join!

Corinna (fourth from left) with members of the String Sinfonia after performing Vivaldi’s ‘Gloria’

After last week’s wonderful Summer Music Week, I reflect upon
my time at Kent and can say: what an incredible year full of music it has been! When I joined the first rehearsal of the Symphony Orchestra in September, I was excited to see how they would rehearse and what kind of pieces would be played. The concert in December has been my first one with this orchestra and I enjoyed performing in the wonderful Colyer-Fergusson hall as well as playing a wide range of pieces, both with and without chorus.

Strings attached: Melody, Zaneta (leader), Corinna, Millie, Molly and Rosie after the Cathedral Concert

After the concert, the director of the String Sinfonia, Floriane Peycelon, asked me if I would like to join the Sinfonia from the next term on and all I can say is it turned out to be one of the greatest musical opportunities I have had so far! As a string ensemble, we have been involved in many different concerts over the year, including lunchtime concerts, the Dido and Aeneas performance in February in which we performed Purcell’s opera with the University Cecilian Choir, the premiere of Between Worlds with the amazingly talented violinist Anna Phoebe last week and – last but not least! – our ‘own’ Sinfonia concerts in which we played wonderful – and quite challenging – compositions for strings, such as Tchaikovsky’s Serenade and Britten’s Simple Symphony.

Bows at the end of the production of ‘Dido and Aeneas’ in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, Feb 2019.
The String Sinfonia rehearsing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall

‘Between Worlds’ by Anna Phoebe

One of the highlights of the academic year for me has definitely been the concert in Canterbury Cathedral in March and performing in this unique location was a special experience for me. Beyond that, the Summer Music Week, comprising of a series of concerts with different themes, from an easy-going summery concert with McMozart and ‘Dance of the Comedians’ to a more serious and formal Between Worlds concert. And finally, the Gala concert, featuring Symphony Orchestra and University of Kent Chorus and Chamber Choir. It was a fantastic way to end my musical year at Kent.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Susan Wanless, Daniel Harding and Flo Peycelon – you’ve always made me feel very welcome and appreciated as part of the ‘team’ and you put tremendous effort and energy in creating all these opportunities
for students who want to make music to a high standard and who want to find an important balance alongside their studies. The same applies to my Sinfonia colleagues; you have been so lovely and open-minded!

You can just glimpse Corinna in the crook of Anna’s arm…

Therefore I encourage every (overseas) student to get involved in the musical life at Kent, no matter how awkward it will be at the beginning to leave one´s own comfort zone. And even if it might just be for a year, make the most of your time here and do what you enjoy. I have had a wonderful year with the music department, and I am sure that whenever I will look back at my time in Canterbury, these happy memories will be a huge part of it.

University Music Prizes 2019

One of the great pleasures of Summer Music Week is the opportunity publically both to recognise and to thank particular students for their outstanding contributions to music-making over the course of the academic year at the Music Prize ceremony. The annual presentation of prizes to worthy recipients takes place following the Music Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital, which showcases some of the talented students at the University each academic year.

The Canterbury Festival Music Prize, is awarded to a final-year student who has made an outstanding contribution to music at the University. This year, the prize was awarded jointly to flautist Robert Loveless and string-player Molly Richetta.

Flautist Robert Loveless

Robert was a final-year student reading Computer Science with a year in Industry, and has played flute and piccolo in the University Symphony Orchestra throughout his time at Kent and also played in the Concert Band and various flute ensembles. This year he was Principal Flautist in the Orchestra playing in all the major concerts, and was also the only student woodwind player in a recent performance of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf – a fiendish flute part! Robert was a University Music Performance Scholar, studying with Rosemary Rathbone, and was Secretary of the student Music Society in his second year. He also sang bass in the University Chamber and Cecilian Choirs.

Multi-talented string-player, Molly Richetta

A final-year student reading Mathematics, Molly Richetta has been a Music Performance Scholar and studied with Floriane Peycelon. She is a highly accomplished player on both the violin and viola so for the past two years has moved between the two instruments, playing in the String Sinfonia and the University Symphony Orchestra – making her indispensable! She also played in a number of other ensembles and quartets this year and has a been in great demand from other local orchestras to play as a professional in their concerts – so has been an excellent ambassador for our music-making. Molly has just finished her year as Treasurer of the student Music Society. Both students received their prizes from the Director of the Canterbury Festival, Rosie Turner.

The Colyer-Fergusson Music Prize is awarded to a student who has made a major contribution to the organisation of music at the University, and this year’s winner was Tom Barton, a final-year student reading Politics and International Relations.

Tom Barton receiving his prize from the former Chair of the Colyer-Fergusson Trust, the Hon Jonathan Monckton

Tom played bass clarinet and saxophone in the University’s Concert Band and Big Band. He was one of the Assistants for these two groups, liaising with the conductor, Ian Swatman, helping to set-up rehearsals, and co-ordinating, circulating and collecting all the many sheets of music which go into the instrument folders. This prize particularly recognises Tom’s contribution to the smooth running of many of our major concerts. When not playing, he has volunteered to assist and steward at them, working quietly, politely and efficiently with the members of the public and Music Department staff and setting a great example to the other student stewards. Tom received his prize from the former Chair of the Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust, the Hon Jonathan Monckton.

The University of Kent Music Prize, which was presented by Professor John Craven, a former Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University, is awarded each to a returning student who has made a major contribution to music at the University this year. The prize was awarded jointly to Carmen Mackey, a second-year student studying Drama and Theatre, and to Leon Schoonderwoerd, in his second year of a PhD in Theoretical Physics. Carmen has had a very busy year as a singer. She was a member of the University Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and the Minerva Voices, and was the Sorceress in our semi-staged performance of Purcell’s opera, Dido and Aeneas, in Colyer-Fergusson in February. She has been an extremely active member of the Musical Theatre Society and coached and performed in their recent successful production of Sondheim’s Company. Carmen was a Music Performance Scholar, studying with Juliet Schiemann.

This year, Leon Schoonderwoerd received a Music Performance Award to study clarinet with Ian Swatman. He was Co-Principal clarinettist in the University Symphony Orchestra, lead clarinettist in the Concert Band, and has formed a number of chamber ensembles. Leon also played timpani and percussion, performing in a number of concerts this year – including some very dramatic thunder in Dido and Aeneas… Both winners received their prizes from Professor Craven.

Professor John Craven presenting the prizes

Awarded to a student who has made a particularly special contribution to our music-making this year, the David Humphreys Music Prize was awarded jointly to Fleur Sumption (pictured below, left) and Helen Sotillo, both final-year students – and both sopranos!

Fleur Sumption and Helen Sotillo performing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall

Completing her postgraduate degree reading Law  (LLB Senior Status), Helen has sung in the University Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and the Minerva Voices. She has featured as soloist in many concerts, including the December Choral Concert and last term she was Dido in the performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, to great acclaim. This year Helen has also been a highly efficient manager of the University Chorus, keeping both the music and its members in check, and plays bassoon in the Concert Band. She has been a Music Performance Scholar, studying singing with Linda Hirst.

Fleur Sumption was a final-year reading History of Art, and similarly has sung in the University Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and the Minerva Voices. She has featured as soloist in many concerts, including the December Choral Concert and last term she was Belinda in the production of Dido and Aeneas. Fleur has also been one of the two vocalists in the University Big Band and when not singing plays alto saxophone. She has just completed her year as President of the student Music Society and as a Music Performance Scholar, studied singing with Juliet Schiemann. The two winners received their prizes from two of David Humphreys’ daughters, Josephine Humphreys and Belinda Howard, who were present at the ceremony.

First-year Elle Soo receiving her prize from Dame Anne Evans

The final prize, the University of Kent First-Year Music Prize, which is occasionally awarded to a student who has made a major contribution to music in their first year at Kent, was awarded to Elle Soo, in her first year of studying Social Anthropology.  At the start of each academic year we audition student vocalists for the University Big Band. Elle was only a few weeks into her time at Kent but immediately made a great impression and this year has starred along with Fleur in the Christmas Swing-along and the concert in March. She performed last Sunday with the Big Band in their annual very popular visit to the Deal Bandstand. She also featured in the  sell-out Summertime Swing event during Summer Music Week. Elle received her prize from Dame Anne Evans, patron of the University Music Scholarship Scheme and former international operatic soprano.

This year’s Music Prize Winners with Chair of the Music Prize Committe, Dr Dan Lloyd

The ceremony was presided over by Dr Dan Lloyd, Chair of the University Music Prize Committee and himself an orchestral instrumentalist. Our thanks to the invited guests, supporters, and prize-givers who attended the ceremony, and our congratulations to all the prize-winners.

Summer Music Week: Between Worlds premiere

Congratulations to all the performers involved in the mesmerising first performance of Between Worlds by composer / violinist Anna Phoebe, which took an entranced audience on a meditative odyssey on the penultimate day of Summer Music Week.

Drawing on research media from the School of Biosciences, Anna’s piece explores the intangible boundary between science and art in a collaborative piece for choir, strings, percussion, soloists and film-projections by artist Skyla Bridges. Conducted by Deputy Director of Music, Dan Harding, the University Chamber Choir and String Sinfonia, together with Anna herself on violin, pianist Jacob Downs, second-year postrgraduate Leon on percussion, and oboist Dan Lloyd (also Deputy Head of the School of Biosciences) unfurled Anna’s evocative piece against a tapestry of ambient electronic soundtracks and beneath Skyla Bridges’ wonderfully beautiful projections taken from research imagery by Dr Chris Toseland.

Between Worlds. Image: Dan Lloyd

The first half of the concert saw a conducter-less (for the most part) String Sinfonia in music by Britten, Reger, Purcell and Arvo Pärt’s lachrymaic Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten, for which the strings were joined by conductor, Susan Wanless. Pärt’s haunting tribute to Britten closed the first half an set the atmosphere for the second.

Afterwards, performers, audience and guests mingled for a post-concert reception to celebrate the fruition of a project that has been in rehearsal since January. Read the programme from the event yourself here.

Main images: © Matt Wilson / University of Kent

Summer Music Week: Days Five and Six

The relentless pace of Summer Music Week continues; Wednesday saw a roof-raising gala concert from the University Concert Band and Big Band under the baton of Ian Swatman entertaining a packed house. Prior to the concert, the sax quartet played on the foyer-stage, led by Peter Cook.

Sax appeal: Peter Cook, Megan Daniel, Owen Kerry, David Curtiss

And yesterday saw a celebration of chamber music in A Musical Miscellany, ranging from a fiercely-modern duet for two violins by Prokofiev to the first movement of Borodin’s String Quartet no.2, lively woodwind music by Seiber, a fragile aria by Copland and the String Sinfonia in not-quite-Mozart…

l-r: Owen Kerry, Charlotte Read, Helen Sotillo, Leon Schoonderwoerd
Pianists Will Morgan and Kiyan Agadjani, with diligent page-turning from Jenny Pang
l-r: Florence Nightingale Obote, Zaneta Balesevic, Molly Richetta, Ken Macdonald
Soprano Alice Shires
The String Sinfonia, directed by Flo Peycelon

Plus post-performance selfies, of course…

Summer Music Week continues tonight with the premiere of Between Worlds by composer/violinist Anna Phoebe by the Chamber Choir and String Sinfonia, plus string music by Britten and Pärt.

Summer Music Week: Day Three and Four

Two further music-filled days as part of this year’s Summer Music Week; on Monday, the University Rock Choir, directed by alumni Jonathan Grosberg, had an enthusiastic audience clapping along to songs such as Don’t Stop Believin’  and Roar; the choir’s debut brought a standing ovation in Colyer-Fergusson Hall.

And Tuesday saw the annual Music Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital, which began in unique fashion this year with first-year Biosciences student and highland bagpiper Eloise Jack – her skiriling pipes were heard outside the hall before she entered on the balcony to instant applause.

Final-year Computer Science student, Robert Loveless, dazzled in a rhythmically vivacious Bossa Merengova by Mike Mower.

Four final-year violinists then delivered a pitch-perfect performance of Telemann’s second Concerto for Four Violins; Zaneta Balsevic (reading Music Performance), Florence Nightingale Obote (Biosciences), Molly Richetta (Mathematics) and Melody Brooks (Psychology).

The programme took a folksy turn in the form of two saxophone duets from two first-year Music Scholars, David Curtiss (reading Physics) and Megan Daniels (Law), in melodies from Bulgaria and Spain.

The concert drew to a close with final-year sopranos Fleur Sumption (History of Art) and Helen Sotillo (LLB Law Senior Status) in a lyrical rendition of the ‘Barcarolle’ from The Tales of Hoffmann.

A highly responsive audience greeted all the performers at the end for a collective bow – our thanks to all the players. The concert was followed by the awarding of this year’s Music Prizes, about which more anon…

Image: Millie Falla

There was Of Course time for selfies afterwards…

Our music festival continues tonight with the annual roof-raising extravaganza that is the valedictory concert from the University Concert Band and Big Band under the baton of Ian Swatman. Still plenty more to come…

Main photos: © Matt Wilson

Summer Music Week: Days One and Two

As temperatures soared and the weather became balmier, Summer Music Week launched over the weekend in the first two events of this year’s annual celebration of the musical year at Kent.

On Friday, the University Chamber Choir and Consort gave an electrifying concert in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, for which they were joined by composer and violinist Anna Phoebe in three evocative movements from Anna’s Between Worlds, an exploration of music and science that receives its full premiere later this week. Second-year student Hannah Ost led the choir in a piece in the first half as part of a wide-ranging programme that received huge applause from a packed crypt audience.

And yesterday, conductor Ian Swatman bravely headed out to the seaside with the University Big Band, to entertain a Sunday crowd at the Memorial Bandstand at Deal, including guest vocal appearances from final-year student Fleur Sumption and first-year Elle Soo. Sea, sunshine and swing – perfect conditions for a perfect day.

Well done to everyone involved; Day Three of Summer Music Week today features the University Rock Choir in action. Find out all that’s going on throughout the week here.

A milestone for the University Cecilian Choir

Congratulations to all the students, staff and alumni who were a part of the University Cecilian Choir‘s service of Choral Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral yesterday.

It was the first time the Cecilian Choir has sung at Canterbury Cathedral, and as seasoned choral evensong singers will know, it’s quite a discpline to learn; the pointing and flexibility of psalm-singing, the need for security in delivering the unaccompanied Responses, and the constant having-to-be-on-your-toes throughout the service so you are ready for what comes next, with the right music in the right order, able to pluck the note of your chord from the intoned sentence from the Precentor. Not withstanding the additional challenge of singing in split formation across an extremely wide aisle in the Cathedral Quire, in mixed-voice arrangement without the security of singing amongst others of your voice-part. And all in front of an expectant congregation, fitting your contribution flawlessly into the well-oiled machinery of the Liturgy…

In rehearsal: Cantoris…
…and in rehearsal: Decani

The Choir rose the occasion marvellously, particularly in Stanford’s Canticles in C and Elgar’s Ave Verum Corpus, a heady blend of lyricism and stirring ensemble singing.

It was lovely to welcome back some former members of the Choir and University alumni to take part; thanks too to organist Charles Francis, Organ Scholar and sixth-form pupil at St Edmund’s School, for playing for the service.

We are back at the Cathedral this Friday night, as the University Chamber Choir performs in the sonorous acoustics of the Cathedral Crypt to launch this year’s Summer Music Week...find out all that’s coming up 31 May – 8 June here.

The view of the Cathedral from the University campus