Category Archives: International Impact

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

Celebrating the universal language of music: first-year Music Scholar Faith Chan reflects

The University of Kent has a wonderfully diverse, international community, including many overseas students involved in its music-making; amongst this year’s Music Performance Scholarship students is first-year Faith Chan, from Malaysia, reading Law. I asked Faith about the reasons for her coming to Kent, and about her musical experiences so far this year.

Being an international student is undoubtedly a unique experience – having to adapt to different culture in a foreign country is both eye opening and challenging. Deciding to come to the UK was an easy choice for me – my father completed his tertiary education here and my brother is currently completing his third year in Durham University. The UK is generally a popular choice for university education in Malaysia, and those who have experienced it have always given positive feedback about their time here.

Faith Chan (l) with members of the cello section at the Cathedral Concert
Faith Chan (l) with members of the Orchestra in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral

I chose to read law in the University of Kent because it is very much an intellectually stimulating course – having previously studied both science and humanities subjects I have had a taste of both worlds and I enjoy the mind-twisting challenge that this course provides. Furthermore Kent Law School is a critical law school, offering an exceptional view and approach to law, not just focusing on legal rules and principles. This will help immensely when I return to Malaysia, as the Malaysian Legal System is closely related to the English Legal System, but is by no means identical.

I am particularly enjoying my experience here as a student as my hobbies are catered to very well – as a music scholar I take part in many of the music events organised here in Kent. Music has always been an important part of my life; the symphony orchestra was a huge factor in my choosing to study in this university. In the six months or so I have been here, I have taken part in multiple performances with the Orchestra and String Sinfonia, including being in the orchestra for Verdi’s Requiem in the beautiful Canterbury Cathedral. These are valuable memories I will certainly cherish and I look forward to the many more to come! I am also lucky enough to receive music lessons for my cello-playing right here on campus as part of my music scholarship. It is wonderful to realise how universal the language of music is – it is enjoyed and appreciated similarly all over the world. There is no doubt that music draws people together!

The cello section after the orchestral concert in the Colyer-Fergusson Hall
The cello section after the orchestral concert in the Colyer-Fergusson Hall

Having come close to completing my first year, I truly feel that I will enjoy the rest of the time I have left here in the University of Kent – I have had the chance to meet many different kinds of people and forged many unusual friendships, all while pursuing and fulfilling my passions.

Reimagining the concert-hall: Yingqi Lin

See the concert-hall differently; Masters student Kiki Lin makes marvellous things happen virtually in the Colyer-Fergusson Building


Digital FX whizz: Kiki Lin
Digital FX whizz: Kiki Lin

My name is Yingqi Lin, a Digital Visual Effects MSc student in 2014, and I’ve just finished my year.

This showreel is the best work of mine when studying in Kent this year. I chose the concert-hall and staircase because I love the warm orange lighting in the music building and the wooden texture is perfectly meet what I need for the flower-growing scene.

A long time ago I wished I could do the plant growing, and the staircase was just the right place and when I saw flowers growing, it did give me a vibrant feeling!

I love vfx, and love this university. Thanks for everything and everyone that I met in the UK this year.

Image Gallery: Jonathan Mayer / Mitel Purohit workshop

After their mesmerising lunchtime concert last week, sitarist and composer Jonathan Mayer and tabla-player  Mitel Purohit stayed on to lead a workshop with some of the University students, exploring aspects of Indian classical music.

Our thanks to two stellar musicians for sharing their insights with our students.

Images © Matt Wilson / University of Kent

A Khushi number: Emily cooks up a dance storm

As highlighted in an earlier post, saxophonist and second-year Emily Cook continues with her fund-raising for schools for street-children in India with her charity, Khushi Feet.

Emily and a team of supporters recently launched their drive for the world-record attempt at the largest Bollywood Dance, due to take place in June, with some flashmob Indian dance around her home town of Faversham.

The event was also featured in the Faversham Times.


More details on the charity’s Facebook page here.. Lots of luck to Emily in the build-up to the event, in support of a very worthy cause.

Life for Rent: interview with Jake Bhanji

Ahead of the Music Theatre Society’s production of Rent which starts this Wednesday, I talked with the show’s Musical Director, Jake Bhanji.

DH: What’s your involvement with the show this year? And what does that mean?

bhanjiJB: I’m the Musical Director for Rent which means I work with the band, preparing and perfecting the vast accompanying music for the show and come performance time, conduct and play the keyboard. I rehearse the band twice a week, and also work closely with our brilliant vocal director, Steph, and awesome director, Alick, in ensuring amendments in the music and the cues are noted. Now at this later stage, we’re working on bringing the band and the cast together, so the cast can get used to the music, and the band used to the singing.

DH: And what are the challenges of working on this show?

Jonathan Larson certainly knows how to keep the musicians on our toes! The shear amount of music, filled with changes in time signatures, keys, tempo, and much more as been a challenge, but we’ve met them well, and I’m immensely proud of the band for coping with it all! Despite its complexity, the music is still great and both the band and the cast love it.

DH: So what have you most enjoyed working on?

To be honest, there is so much to choose from, so it is really difficult to choose just one I’ve enjoyed. Well, Out tonight is definitely a favourite! As well as the big opening number Rent’ it really brings the whole show to life, kicking it off with a bang, which just keeps getting better! Speaking with the band, I know unanimously La Vie Boheme is definitely one that we all leave rehearsals still singing!

DH And you’re in the Gulbenkian this year, rather than your usual haunt, the Whitstable Playhouse ?

Yes, it is great to use the fantastic facilities that we have here on campus. The Gulbenkian offers brilliant theatre space, and I’m really looking forward to getting in there, and putting it all together, it’s like the final part to the puzzle. Speaking of facilities, the music department here, has been brilliant putting up with our band rehearsals and loaning out equipment. It’s been so beneficial to make use of the new sound proof band room, pianos and drums, without which would really make our band redundant.

DH:  Why, thank you: glad to help! Can you give us a hint as to what we’re in for on the night ?

JB: You’re in for a night full of rockin’ music; virtuosic singing, acting and dance, and a story that’ll make you want to get up and start singing and dancing with the cast! Not to mention a treat for both the guys and girls, trust me! And a show that you’ll never forget!

The production runs this week, from Wednesday to Friday. at the Gulbenkian Theatre: details and tickets online here.



Scholars’ Spotlight: Mathilde Farnabe

Mathilde Farnabe
Mathilde Farnabe

Continuing the series profiling this year’s Music Scholars. This week, saxophonist Mathilde Farnabe.


My name is Mathilde and I am currently doing my Masters Degree in Psychology here at Kent Uni. I came from France in September 2011, so a lot of my music experience  relates to my years in France.

I started taking music lessons when I was six because my dad always wanted me and my sister to play an instrument, as he is a guitarist. The following year I could choose to start an instrument so I went to have a look in different classes to see what I wanted to do.

For some reasons, saxophone attracted my attention and I started right away. For about ten years I was working with the same teacher, Jean-Henri Roan and I do owe a lot of my progress to his very committed and serious work with me. We worked on a lot of different classical, romantic or baroque pieces which to this day are still my favourites. I developed a lot of musical skills listening to him play and understanding what was written and how to interpret it.

In 2006 he brought me to a competition called “Concours National du Jeune Musicien” where I achieved my best performance and won a soprano saxophone, which was a great encouragement and reward for my work. I also took part in music camps every summer for four years, in the “’Académie Internationale d’Eté : Musique au Pays de l’Affiche ” in which I had the chance to play in amazing quartets and concert bands, as well as what stays my preferred formation to this day: a sax ensemble. I met a lot of different people in these summer camps and in particular my teacher’s teacher: Patrick Saltel. I was then encouraged to take lessons with him instead, which taught me a lot. I joined his concert band, saxophone ensemble and even orchestra where I was playing the oboe part with my soprano.

It was very sad when I had to leave  everything behind in September 2011 to come and study in England. However I am now very pleased to be part of the music players and moreover scholars at the University of Kent, and I am very much enjoying the Big Band and Concert Band concerts and rehearsals in this new magnificent building. I have also started playing with a saxophone quartet which sounds great!

Mathilde Farnabe

See all the other features in this series here.

A touch of the exotic: the Silk and Bamboo Ensemble lunchtime concert next week

There’ll be a sense of the exotic at the Gulbenkian Theatre next Monday lunchtime, as the Silk and Bamboo Ensemble bring music of China to the Lunchtime Concert series.

Silk and Bamboo EnsembleThis ensemble of virtuoso musicians has performed at the Purcell Room and Queen Elizabeth Hall, and has appeared in many festivals, including Cambridge Folk Music, the Edinburgh Festival and in Europe’s WOMEX and WOMAD festivals.

For this special concert the group will present a selection of ensemble and solo pieces of traditional, folk and modern Chinese music.

The concert starts at 1.10pm, and will finish at 1.50pm. Admission as usual is free with a suggested donation £3. Don’t miss it…

Furley Page logo
Sponsors of the Lunchtime Concert series

Scholars Spotlight: Melissa Tortorella

A new feature, profiling this year’s Music Scholars: this week, flautist Melissa Tortorella.


I started playing the flute when I was ten, in my last year of elementary school, but I didn’t become serious about music until high school when my participation in the school’s marching and concert band led me to private lessons. I went on to play in Orlando’s Youth Orchestra and eventually grew enough musically to participate in county and state competitions.

Although I decided to do a degree in French at the University of Florida, I couldn’t abandon music altogether. I declared Music Performance as a minor and spent four years in the University Marching Band and Symphonic Band — as well as several other for-fun groups, such as Flute Ensemble and Steel Drum Band.

Joining the musical community was a foregone conclusion when I enrolled at Kent, and I was pleased to discover a number of opportunities to make music on campus. I play the flute and piccolo in the Symphony Orchestra and sing second soprano in the University Choir. I always look forward to music nights during my week and am constantly reminded about music’s universal appeal: judging from the amount of international students that participate in musician ensembles, and as one myself, it’s clear that (excuse the cliche) music really is the world’s universal language.