Category Archives: International Impact

News, views and stories about our international Music Scholars, students, visitors and events

In pictures: Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert

Congratulations to everyone involved in last Saturday’s annual Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert; to all the performers in the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, the stewards, those working behind the scenes, conductor Susan Wanless and soprano soloist, Rachel Nicholls.

The early shift: Alice, Fleur, Tom, technician Marc and Estates member, Mark.
Members of the Music Society Committee confer during the morning set-up at the Cathedral
The view from the top tier of the soprano section of the University Chorus
Drummer boy: alumnus Cory, back to play percussion
The violin section, led by third-year Music Scholar, Zaneta Balsevic

Chorus and Orchestra in full swing
Soprano soloist Rachel Nicholls rehearsing Poulenc’s ‘Gloria’
The view from behind the Orchestra as it rehearses Mendelssohn’s ‘Italian’ Symphony
The orchestra being very attentive…
The lower strings of the Orchestra
Conductor Susan Wanless rehearsing Butterworth’s ‘A Shropshire Lad’
The evening stewards: Alex, Kiyan, Euan, Eloise and Tom
Some familiar faces back to take part: Alice H, Charlotte, Ben, Ruth, Alice B, Cory and Alice Sh!
A soprano selfie: but only if your name is Alice…
Chorus members Carmen, Maddie, Helen, Nicholas, Fleur (President of the Music Society), and Joseph
Strings attached: Melody, Zaneta (leader), Corinna, Millie, Molly and Rosie
Leader of the Symphony Orchestra, third-year Music Scholar Zaneta Balsevic
Chorus of approval

Scholars’ Spotlight: Leon Schoonderwoerd

Continuing the series profiling University Music Performance Scholars and Performance Award students. This week, second-year Physics post-graduate and clarinettist, Leon Schoonderwoerd.


My name is Leon Schoonderwoerd, born and raised in the Netherlands. I am a second-year PhD student in Theoretical Physics, as well as a recipient of the University of Kent Music Performance Award.

My musical journey started with clarinet lessons at age 7, which I continued all through primary and secondary school. A few years later, I joined a local wind orchestra where I worked my way from third clarinet in the youth band to first clarinet in the main orchestra in a few years time. Meanwhile, I taught myself to play drums and played in a few small bands, unfortunately none of which made it very far.

After a trial lesson at the Amsterdam conservatoire, I decided to not enrol there but instead pursue a science degree. I studied at the University of Amsterdam for six years, obtaining first a BSc in Natural and Social Sciences, then an MSc in Theoretical Physics. During this time, my music-making was mostly on hold, with the exception of a band I started with a few friends during the master’s. We played a few gigs, but when our frontman moved to Germany to pursue a PhD, we decided to quit while ahead.

After finishing my Masters, I lived and worked in Amsterdam for another year, during which I joined a student orchestra. My background in classical music combined with my experience on the drums allowed my to fill their vacancy for a percussionist. When after one programme the opportunity arose to switch over to bass clarinet, I took it. This was a truly great year for me, playing pieces such as Ravel’s Piano Concerto, Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances and Janáček’s Sinfonietta. The year ended with a bang when we joined forces with a student orchestra to give a series of concerts in the Netherlands (ending in a sold-out Concertgebouw in Amsterdam) as well as a three-concert tour abroad in Freising, Germany and Bologna, Italy.

By this time, I had accepted a PhD position with Gunnar Möller at the University of Kent, so in the summer of 2017 I moved from Amsterdam to Canterbury in pursuit of science. Here, I joined the lively music programme, which awed me with its beautiful concert hall and proceeded to take over most of my free time. During my first year at Kent, I played bass clarinet and percussion in the University Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band, sang bass in the Chorus, joined the pit band for two musical theatre shows and started a woodwind quartet.

This year, I vowed to take any musical opportunity I possibly could, as a result of which I am playing clarinet in the Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band as well as in an array of chamber ensembles, bass clarinet in the Pops Orchestra, and the odd percussion part for different performances (I hear there are still some tickets for Dido and Aeneas…) [deftly plugged there, Leon: well done…ED]. Additionally, the Music Performance Award has allowed me to take lessons with the incredible Ian Swatman, also director of the University Concert and Big Bands and legendary Hull City supporter…)

Music at Kent thus provides me with ample opportunity to take my mind off physics. Many thanks to the Music Department and Music Society for making all this possible!


The Music Performance Award is open to returning students at Kent, and offers a year’s worth of instrumental / singing lessons in support of a holder’s contribution to the musical life of the University: read more here.

Hannah’s American Diary: part One

University Music Performance Scholar Hannah Ost is currently working in New York at the French Woods Festival  for the Performing Arts as part of Camp America. Alongside her busy schedule, she’s keeping a festival diary for the rest of us to enjoy: here’s the first instalment…


Tuesday 10 July

It’s been almost a month since I landed in the US so I thought I would update you on what I have been doing at French Woods Festival here in New York!

In the morning, I teach voice lessons to whoever wants to sign up. I have had as little as two students in two hours and as many as nine (which was a crazy day!)

After lunch, I am the Assistant Musical Director for two shows: James and the Giant Peach and a rewrite of Snow White which I have helped rewrite some music for. I mainly teach the solo numbers, while the Primary MD teaches ensemble songs. I’ll be playing the Keys 2 part in the pit band for the first.

I have also been given my assignment for the next session, which begins next week. I’m going to be the Primary Musical Director for a show called Junie B Jones and I’ll be playing Keys 1 and conducting the pit band for that show too!

I’ll keep you posted…

Strings on tour: String Sinfonia performing in CAST Gala concert

If you missed the String Sinfonia’s trip to Canada last month then fear not; here is the group performing Elgar’s Serenade for Strings as part of the Chinese Artists Society of Toronto’s Gala concert, directed by Floriane Peycelon.

The performance was the culmination of the ensemble’s five-day visit to Canada, which also saw them give a  Classical Connections concert at Toronto’s Varley Art Gallery, as part of the gallery’s recent exhibition.

With thanks to CAST Administrator, Lily Cheng, for the footage.

Scholar’s Spotlight: Ramnath Venkat Bhagavath

Continuing the series profiling University Music Performance Scholars; this week, Masters student in Actuarial Science, Ramnath Venkat Bhagavath.


Having been born into a family of musicians, I started my vocal training in South Indian Classical music (Carnatic music) at a very young age.  I still remember my childhood days when my grandmother would wake me up at 5 am in the morning and make me practice for 2 hours, every single day. Being an accomplished Veena artiste, she was a perfectionist in every sense. I gave my first public performance at the age of 13 and since then, I have been regularly giving vocal concerts.

After completing my schooling in India, I did my undergraduate studies in Toronto, Canada, and immediately followed that with a Masters at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. I relocated back to India in 2012 after my studies and worked there for five years before I decided to come to University of Kent to do my second masters. I was actively pursuing and performing music throughout, alongside studies and work. I was fortunate to perform on many prestigious stages in India and abroad.

When I first came to University of Kent, I was a little worried whether I would have the opportunity to pursue music along with my masters. I was even apprehensive when I applied for the University Music Performance scholarship as I wasn’t sure whether Indian classical music would be encouraged. All this changed when I had my audition for the scholarship. Both Susan (the Director of University Music) and Daniel (the Deputy Director of University Music) were extremely welcoming and encouraging of Indian classical music. When I got to know that I was selected for the scholarship, I was very thrilled and delighted beyond words.

When I first stepped into the Colyer-Fergusson hall, I was amazed at the splendor, grandeur and acoustics of the hall. I was lucky to have couple of my skype music classes with my Guru in India, right in that hall. I also had access to practice rooms with just an email notice. I was able to actively pursue music while at Kent.

Ramnath and musicians performing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, May 2018

When I was given the opportunity to do a lunchtime concert at Colyer Fergusson, I was inexplicably happy. After all, to perform in such a hall will be every musician’s dream! My performance was well attended and appreciated by everyone. I had excellent musicians from London accompanying me on the Violin, Mridangam and Ghatam for the lunchtime concert. If not for this concert opportunity, I would not have had the chance to know these musicians. We already have plans to collaborate again in future.

Furthermore, I also had the privilege to perform during the Scholars lunchtime concert, where I performed along with other music scholars. I also worked with the University wellbeing department to conduct workshops on Raga singing, as a part of their wellness week program. I sincerely express my gratitude to everyone at the Music department for giving me wonderful opportunities to showcase South Indian Classical music. University of Kent has truly given me beautiful musical memories that will be etched in my heart forever!


Read more profiles of University Music Scholars here.

Strings on tour!

Bon voyage to the members of the University String Sinfonia, whose members left Heathrow Airport early this morning on their way to Canada.

Comprising undergraduate students from across the university, including the Schools of Law, Psychology, Politics and International Relations and European and Culture and Languages, the group will be performing in a special event at the Varley Art Gallery (read more about that in a previous article here), and as part of the Chinese Artists Society of Toronoto’s annual Gala concert, alongside the CAST Philomusica and various soloists, in a packed gala programme.

We wish them well; follow all their adventures on #sinfoniaontour on Instagram at unikent_music and on Twitter; it promises to be an exciting trip!

Recognising outstanding contributions to University music: Music Prizes 2018

Towards the end of each academic year, the Music department takes the opportunity to recognise the outstanding contributions made by a few of those who have participated in music between September and June in an awards ceremony, held as part of Summer Music Week.

Left to right: Douglas Haycock, Lydia Cheng, Jasper Rose, Alice Baker, Charlotte Webb, Molly Richetta, Matthew Cooke

The Canterbury Festival Music Prize, awarded to a final-year student who has made an outstanding contribution to music, was awarded jointly to Lydia Cheng and Charlotte Webb. A final-year student reading Law, Lydia is a wonderfully talented violinist – indeed, she turned down music scholarships to both Berkeley and McGill to come to Kent! Such is her commitment and talent that she has lead the Symphony Orchestra for the last two years. She also plays in the String Sinfonia and has performed in chamber music lunchtime concerts. She is a Music Performance Scholar, studying with Floriane Peycelon and Kathy Shave, and has also been one of the Symphony Orchestra Assistants for the past two years. This year Lydia has been in great demand from other local orchestras to play in their concerts so has been an excellent ambassador for our music-making. Charlotte Webb is a final-year student reading Biomedical Science with a year abroad
Charlotte spent her third year in Canada and has certainly made the most of her final year back in Kent. She is a Music Performance Scholar, studying singing with Peter Cox, and sings in the University Chorus, Chamber Choir and Cecilian Choir. She has featured as soloist in many concerts, including our performances this year of Handel’s Messiah and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. And as well as all this, Charlotte has also played Principal Trumpet in the Symphony Orchestra this year, and acted as the Music Society Social Secretary, whose main role seems to be carting people off to K-Bar after rehearsals…

The students received their awards from Keith Mander, Chair of the Canterbury Festival and former Pro Vice Chancellor at the University.

The Colyer-Fergusson Music Prize, which is awarded in recognition of a student’s involvement in organising music at the University went to Alice Baker, a final-year student reading Wildlife Conservation. The award recognised her exceptional all-round behind-the-scenes organising and admin skills as the Chorus Manager this year – the issuing and returning of all the chorus members’ vocal scores for each major concert and liaising closely with the Music Department, no mean feat for a leviathan chorus numbering around 180 members! She is a Music Performance Scholar, studying singing with Juliet Schiemann, and sings in the University Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir, and the Lost Consort.

Alice was presented with her award by the Director of Music, Susan Wanless.

The University Music Prize is an award donated by Professor John Craven, a former Deputy Vice Chancellor at Kent, and is awarded to returning students who have made a major contribution to music throughout the year. This year, it was awarded jointly to Matthew Cooke and Molly Richetta. A second-year student studying French and Business Administration, Matt has certainly had a very busy year of music-making. He is the student conductor of the University Chamber Choir and was the musical director for the Musical Theatre Society’s production of Bonnie and Clyde in the Marlowe Studio. He also plays trumpet in the Concert Band and Big Band, and sings tenor in the University Chorus, Chamber Choir and Cecilian Choir. This year he has received a Music Performance Award to study singing with Peter Cox and was a soloist in both the December Choral Concert and in Messiah. In her second year studying Mathematics, Molly Richetta is a Music Performance Scholar and studies violin with Floriane Peycelon. She made the fatal mistake of telling us that she also plays viola (a rare breed!) so this year she has swapped between playing both instruments in the String Sinfonia, and has become a very accomplished leader of the viola section in the University Symphony Orchestra. Like Lydia, she has also been in great demand from other local orchestras to play in their concerts so has been an excellent ambassador for our music-making.

Both students were presented with their awards by  Professor April McMahon.

Finally, the David Humphreys Music Prize, which is awarded to a student who has made a particularly special music contribution, was awarded jointly to Douglas Haycock and Jasper Rose. A final -year student, reading Law, Douglas Haycock is a Music Performance Scholar, studying singing with Peter Cox, and sings in the University Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and the Lost Consort. He has featured as soloist in many concerts, including the December Choral Concert and Messiah last term. He has just finished his year as President of the Music Society and also plays tenor saxophone in the Concert and Big Bands. It is particularly fitting that Doug is receiving this prize as he conducted the Chamber Choir in his second year and, thanks to the David Humphreys’ Music Fund, was able to go on a conducting course and have the opportunity to perform in Canterbury Cathedral’s crypt. Jasper Rose is a final-year reading Criminal Justice and Criminology on our Medway campus, and has played trombone in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and is a Music Performance Scholar, receiving lessons with Geoff Mason. He is a really exceptional player, leading the trombone section in Concert Band and taking the spotlight in many improvised solos in the Big Band. He has also been principal first trombone in the University Symphony Orchestra for the past three years.

Douglas and Jasper received their awards from David’s daughters, Josephine Humphreys and Belinda Howard.

The Music Awards Committee has a difficult job in deciding which candidates in particular to recognise with awards, and this year was especially challenging with so many involved in our music-making across the year; our thanks both to the award-winners, and to the wider community of University musicians, students, staff and alumni, who have given so much of their time and enthusiasm in rehearsing and performing this year. What will next year bring…

Chamber Choir take part in centuries-old tradition of Choral Evensong

Congratulations to the University Chamber Choir, which on Tuesday sang Choral Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral.

The event was the first time in the history of the University that the Chamber Choir has taken part in the centuries-old tradition of choral evensong, and an auspicious occasion held in the very cradle of the Anglican church itself.

Directed by Deputy Director of Music, Dan Harding, the choir sang music by Stanford, Smith and Fauré, to a packed congregation, comprising regular attenders and parents, as well as overseas visitors, in the Cathedral Quire.

The Chamber Choir is back in action on Friday 1 June, and indeed back in the Cathedral, when it launches this year’s Summer Music Week festival with a performance in the Cathedral Crypt at 7.30pm; see all that’s coming up as part of the annual music festival celebrating the end of the University year here.