All posts by Daniel Harding

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

Everybody’s Waiting: Merry Christmas from the Music department

As we reach the end of a busy period marking the festive season, there’s just time to wish all our loyal readers a very Merry Christmas from the Music team, in the company of the University Big Band, conducted by Ian Swatman, with first-year Elle Soo singing Everybody’s Waiting for the Man with the Bag from the band’s recent ‘Christmas Swingalong.’

We’re back in the New Year; watch out for an action-packed spring season to be unveiled early in January!

University Big Band featured on BBC Radio Kent

The preparations to the University Big Band’s annual Christmas Swingalong were featured on BBC Radio Kent last night on The Dominic King Show.

Your Loyal Correspondent is heard talking with the conductor of the Big Band, Ian Swatman, as well as student players Owen Kerry (Physics), Megan Daniel (Law), Fleur Sumption (History of Art) and David Curtiss  (Physics) about life in the ensemble, fitting music into their academic life, and Christmas jumpers…

Talking heads: l-r Owen Kerry, Fleur Sumption, David Curtiss, Megan Daniel
BBC Radio Kent presenter, Dominic King

You can listen to the interview online here, starting at 1 hr 28 mins and 31 secs. Many thanks to Dominic King for featuring the band on the airwaves.

Festive image gallery: Flute Choir, Minerva Voices and the Big Band Swingalong

An action-packed finale to the term; a festive sprinkling of seasonal Baroque music and carols from the Flute Choir and the upper-voice chamber choir, Minerva Voices, followed by the annual roof-raising Christmas Swingalong with the University Big Band, conducted by Ian Swatman, featuring singers Elle Soo and Fleur Sumption.

Warning: there are selfies…

Old and New and the Carol Service: University music in action

Two events in three days with which to catch up, Loyal Readers!

Last Saturday brought the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra together in a programme combining music from the past with reimaginings from a modern perspective: Vivaldi’s dramatic iMagnificat, two of Handel’s bombastic Coronation Anthems, Walton’s recasting of Bach in The Wise Virgins, Matthew King’s orchestral vision of Mozart’s piece for mechanical organ, and Respighi’s light-footed Ancient Airs and Dances Suite no.2.

The University Chorus and Orchestra in rehearsal during the afternoon

Director of Music Susan Wanless wielded the baton in front of the assembled masses to a packed house, and it was lovely to welcome back some familiar faces and musical alumni to take part in the performance.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last night, it was the turn of the University Chamber Choir to participate in the Carol Service, an evocative event at Canterbury Cathedral bringing together members from across the University community in a programme of lessons and carols to explore the season of Advent.

Second-year Music Scholar, Hannah Ost (pictured here in rehearsal), launched the service in energetic fashion conducting Gaudete.

Elsewhere, Your Loyal Correspondent directed the eighteen-piece choir in a lyrically colourful setting of Lullay My Liking by Will Inscoe, a sixth-form pupil at St Edmund’s School, and a deft Ding Dong! Merrily on High. Earlier on, second-year postgraduate Law student and Music Scholar, Helen Sotillo, ushered in the Christmas season with a clarion-clear solo verse of Once In Royal David’s City – as it lifted into the upper reaches of the Nave, the season unfurled above the heads of the assembled congregation, stood in  an expectant, candlelit hush.

Next up: tomorrow brings a Christmas lunchtime concert with the Flute Choir and Minerva Voices, and later the annual festive knees-up that is the Big Band’s Christmas Swingalong. Well, it IS the season…

Court in the Act: rehearsing Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas

Rehearsals are underway for a performance in February of Purcell’s ground-breaking Dido and Aeneas by the University Cecilian Choir, String Sinfonia and soloists.

Driven by characterful choruses, the Chorus has a significant role to play throughout each of the acts. Whether courtiers to the Queen, a coven of witches or lusty and infidelious sailors, the Choir will have a major part to play in the gradual unfolding of the witches’ nefarious scheming to come between the Queen of Carthage and the Trojan prince…

The Choir has been working hard in rehearsals each week, and is here captured getting into character as palace courtiers for the start of Act I.

Soloists in the opera are drawn from the Choir, including third-year Music Scholar, Fleur Sumption and first-year Felicity Bourdillon, seen here in an earlier rehearsal for Acts I and II.

Banish sorrow, banish care…

University Chorus prepares to unleash Vivaldi in December concert

The University Chorus is busy rehearsing works by Vivaldi and Handel each Monday evening, in preparation for the  annual December concert.

As part of the programme, the Chorus will perform Vivaldi’s fiercely committed Magnificat, rich in dissonance and expressive chromaticism, as well as two of Handel’s Coronation Anthems, for which they will be joined by the Symphony Orchestra. Undergraduate and postgraduate students sit alongside University academic and administrative staff, senior management and members of the local community, all bringing Vivaldi’s dramatic work and Handel’s buoyant Zadok the Priest off the page

The group has been working hard throughout the term; there’s not long to go until the performance next week – come and hear the results for yourself on Saturday 8 December…

Radio days: Musical Theatre Showcase ‘You Wish’ next month

The University Musical Theatre Society is busy rehearsing ahead of its showcase next month, You Wish, in which a mysterious man hosts a radio competition in which the winner’s dream can become a reality.

All listeners have to do is send in a video of what they most desire; but for some, their desperation is their downfall and the audience witness the unexpected. With dreams ranging from whimsical wishes to deep, dark desires, some will do anything to win – but only one will come true…

The show explores themes of love, loss, friendship, betrayal, fame and fortune, including songs from  Avenue Q, Chicago, Hamilton and many more. Bring your dreams and desires along to Colyer-Fergusson Hall  on 1 and 2 December at 7.30pm…

Tickets: Full – £8 / Concessions – £5 available online here.

Please note: the show contains some strong language, references to abusive relationships and some representation of emotional abuse.

From the archive: the Herald Tribune, 1952

One of the marvellous aspects to the sheet music archive the Music department was bequeathed by the Ken Lewis Dance Orchestra is the peripheral documents occasionally to be found lurking amidst all the music.

The Ken Lewis Dance Orchestra in the 1950s

As regular readers will know, the Ken Lewis Dance Orchestra was a dance band active throughout the county during the 1950s and 60s, run by George Morgan, from Gravesend. The band played throughout the region, including playing as the warm-up band for the Ted Heath Orchestra in at Chatham Town Hall. In 2005, George and his wife Maureen (the latter Chief Manager of the band’s sheet music!) generously donated the entire archive of band music to the department, and in 2013, the Deputy Director of Music, Dan Harding, put together a group of student players to bring the music to life once more as General Harding’s Tomfoolery. The band danced its way through that academic year, and formed once more in 2016-17.

Going through the archive, this morning’s find is a copy of a special section of the Herald Tribune, published in Paris in July, 1952, commemorating the maiden voyage of the SS United States from America to Europe, when it was to dock at Southampton. The ship weighed in at 53,000 tonnes and measured 990 feet, and was making its way to Le Havre, where it was to dock later that month.

The pull-out section celebrates ‘A great new liner for the Atlantic service,’ and is a wonderful historic document to discover amongst the original band-folders. More finds to be revealed later…