All posts by Daniel Harding

Head of Music Performance, University of Kent: pianist, accompanist and conductor: jazz enthusiast.

Tidings of Comfort and Joy:Chorus and Orchestra back for the first time since December 2019

Congratulations to the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, together again for the first time in two years on Saturday for a sparklingly seasonal concert.

Photo: Charlotte Allioux

A sold-out house and an enthusiastic audience greeted the combined musical forces, embracing students, staff, alumni, and members of the local community in a programme including Vaughan Williams’ Fantasia on Christmas Carols with baritone Simon Thorpe, and Tchaikovsky’s glittering Nutcracker Suite.

Members of the Symphony Orchestra backstage before the performance

Thank you to everyone involved; a delight to be back making music together! We’re back next term with Haydn and Mendelssohn in Canterbury Cathedral…

The Symphony Orchestra rehearsing before the concert, conducted by Dan Harding. Photo: Jeni Martin

Seasonal events get underway in the Music Department

After so long without them, it’s genuinely exciting to be back with musical events as the Christmas season starts to unfold.

The Cecilian Choir, comprising students, staff and alumni launched the Advent season with a sequence of plainsong and carols at St Michael’s Church, Hernhill, a meditative candlelit event interspersed with periods of silent reflection; there was a wonderfully atmospheric moment during one such moment, when the church clock struck on the hour at eight o’clock.

This year’s Chamber Choir, Minerva Voices, returned to the Cathedral on Monday 6 December, for the first time since December 2019, to sing for the University Carol Service; always a special event in the university calendar, drawing its community together in a modified, COVID-safe manner that was nonetheless a very welcome opportunity to come together at this time of the year. Congratulations to final-year Psychology student and Music Award Holder, Felicity Bourdillon (above, fifth from the right), whose solo verse to open ‘Once in royal David’s city’ lifted clear into the Cathedral Nave at the start of the service.

And last night, members of the String Sinfonia were in action in a fearless concert showcasing the versatility of music for string orchestra, including Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro  and some light-footed folksong arrangements by John Rutter.

We’ve still a week of events to go before the term ends; but it’s great to be back.

 

Sure on this Shining Night: Music Scholars’ Evening Recital now available to view online

We[re delighted to present the film of Sure on this Shining Night, a recital given back in June in the Quire of Canterbury Cathedral by some of last year’s Music Performance Scholars during Summer Music Week.

Given under COVID-compliant restrictions to a small audience as part of a much-condensed series of events marking the end of the musical year at the University, the recital is now available to view online; ranging from Scottish bagpipe music to works by Samuel Barber, Fauré, Mendelssohn and finishing with two contemplative pieces for piano quintet by Olafur Arnalds, the performance was a testament to the commitment of the musical community at Kent last year to continue rehearsing and performing where possible during such challenging times.

The Music department is grateful to Chris Wenham for creating the film, and to all the performers who took part.

Composer and sitarist Jonathan Mayer to mentor University Music Award Holder

The Music Department is delighted to reveal that composer and sitarist, Jonathan Mayer, will be mentoring one of the University’s Music Award Holders during the coming academic year.

Image: (c) Matt Wilson / University of Kent

An active composer exploring connections between traditional Indian music and Western instruments, Jonathan’s Sitar Concerto No.2 was recorded with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales last year, as part of his continuing synthesis of east-west musical idioms.

Ridima Sur singing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall

Following his recent concert in Colyer-Fergusson to launch the new season of Lunchtime Concerts, Jonathan will be working with Ridima Sur, (pictured above), a third-year student at the University reading Astrophysics. Hailing from the Hoogly district, West Bengal, Ridima holds a Music Award at Kent, and last year was filmed as part of the Scholar’s Spotlight series of short performances in Colyer-Fergusson Hall given by some of the students.

“I’m really grateful for the opportunity, and to have met with Jonathan,” enthused Ridima, “we talked about my vocal range and all the ragas I’m currently doing. He’s going to support me in my music-making this year, and we will also plan a few performances. My mum’s sister was a classical singer, she professionally pursued Hindustani classical music and was my motivation to keep following music myself; partially a reason I am trying to continue my music is a tribute to her.”

Three musicians in Indian dress standing in the foyer of Colyer-Fergusson Hall, including third-year student Ridima
Third-year Physics student, Ridma Sur, with Jonathan Mayer (r) and tabla-player., Denis Kucherov (l)

The extra-curricular Music department provides opportunities for its Music Performance Scholars and Award Holders to develop their musicianship alongside their academic studies, and runs a vibrant provision for all students and staff, as well as members of the local community, to be involved in University music-making. Thanks to the generosity of the donors who support the Music Scholarship Scheme, it promises to be an exciting mentorship, and a unique opportunity for one of the University’s students to learn with an established figure on the British musical landscape.

Student workshop with Glyndebourne Touring Orchestra players

It’s been a terrific afternoon here in Colyer-Fergusson Hall; following the Lunchtime Concert from members of the Glyndebourne Touring Orchestra / Pit Perfect Scheme, the players have been sitting alongside the students in the University String Sinfonia workshopping two pieces for string orchestra this afternoon.

The hall has been filled with the sound of music (!) by Kalinnikov and Elgar, and the student players have been working alongside the professional players, working on technical aspects of instrumental playing, working as ensemble musicians, and sharing the experience of playing music together, all under the expert enthusiasm of Flo Peycelon.

Thanks to Chris Stones, Head of Tour Development, to Jonathan Tunnell, Touring Orchestra Manager, and the players for a marvellous afternoon of collaborative music-making – a terrific opportunity for University music students to learn from the very best.

We’re heading off down the hill this evening, taking the student string-players to see the professionals in action again in tonight’s production of The Rake’s Progress,  as the Glyndebourne tour takes up residence at the Marlowe Theatre…

Images © Matt Wilson / University of Kent

Montage © Chris Wenham / University of Kent

University musicians set to make a Beautiful Noise as part of the Canterbury Festival next week

Student musicians from the University will be taking part in the Canterbury Festival’s Beautiful Noise project at Westgate Hall on Saturday 23rd October.

The project brings together players from local educational establishments, including Simon Langton Grammar School, St Edmund’s School and the King’s School, as part of a day of community music-making in this year’s festival, and brings the whole day to what promises to be a rousing conclusion with big band jazz and swing under the direction of Head of Performance at St Edmund’s School, Ian Swatman.

“It’s very exciting to be bringing young players in the region together to play such great music.” enthuses Ian, “empowering the performers and audiences of tomorrow, and giving them a platform as part of Canterbury’s international celebration of the arts.”

Students from the School of Law and the School of History will be amongst the saxophone and brass sections of the ensemble that night; find out more here,

Festival logo

Lunchtime Concert series launches next week

We’re very excited to say that our new Lunchtime Concert series launches next week, as the series of live performances returns to Colyer-Fergusson Hall once more.

The series begins on Wednesday 20 October at the usual time of 1.10pm with what promises to be a mesmerising sequence of Indian ragas performed by British sitarist and composer, Jonathan Mayer, together with tabla-player Denis Kucherov.

Image: (c) Matt Wilson / University of Kent

The event also begins a series of partnerships between the Music Department and professional performers; this year, Jonathan will be working with third-year Physics student and Hindustani singer, Ridima, towards a performance later in the year.

As always, the lunchtime concerts are free to attend, but this term tickets need to be booked in advance of the performance, which can be done online here.

The Music department is grateful to Furley Page Solicitors for its continued spobnsorship of the series.

Sponsors of the Lunchtime Concert series

We look forward to seeing you next, as we usher in the new season of lunchtime events!

New season ‘What’s On’ details now out!

it’s been a while since we’ve been able to say this, but our new What’s On pages are now live with all the details about the Autumn term concerts!

Image: (c) Matt Wilson / University of Kent

Live music is back in earnest for the new term, as our Lunchtime Concert series welcomes sitar player Jonathan Mayer, a recital of music for viola de gamba by Asako Morikawa, the Deptford Rivieras in a post-launch party for their latest CD, and a special extra concert featuring the Glyndebourne Touring Orchestra and Pit Perfect, including a post-concert workshop with student string-players.

Tour Orchestra 2019, Glyndebourne. Image: James Bellorini

The December concert by the Chorus and Orchestra has a sparkling seasonal flavour, including music by Tchaikovsky and Vaughan Williams, and the term finishes in rousing fashion with the customary Christmas Swingalong featuring the Big Band and the evergreen Ian Swatman.

Image: Matt Wilson / University of Kent

We can’t wait to be back – take a look at all that’s coming up this term, and we look forward to seeing you once more.

Sponsors of the Lunchtime Concert series

Header image: Andy Holmes / Unsplash