Category Archives: Keeping It Real: reviews.

Concerts and events reviews.

A night to remember: Nostalgia Night research showcase

Congratulations to all the performers involved in last Friday’s Nostalgia Night, a research showcase presented by Dr Chris Deacy in the School of European Culture and Languages as part of this year’s nationwide Being Human Festival.

Dr Chris Deacy

Reader in Theology and Religious Studies at the University, Chris’ event was also a part of the Open Thinking at Kent strand, which promotes ideas and public engagement with University research, led by Will Wollen from the School of Arts. Friday night saw Chris presenting his research into the idea of nostalgia – what it means and how it shapes us as human beings – in a session enhanced by live music provided by the University Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and General Harding’s Tomfoolery, the 1940s dance orchestra. Music included Moonlight Serenade, the theme to RainbowWhen I Fall In Love, the theme tune to the Pink Panther,  a Christmas carol, Lady Is A Tramp featuring second-year vocalist Robbie Frederick, and  it all came to a rousing conclusion with the audience joining in to sing Bring Me Sunshine.

The University Cecilian Choir
General Harding’s Tomfoolery

Tomfoolery also played the audience out with The Charleston and American Patrol, before performers and audience mingled in the foyer for a post-event glass of mulled wine.

Before the event, the student barbershop quartet, the Razor Sharps, took to the foyer-stage to entertain the arriving audience with a selection of popular favourites, setting a suitable scene for a trip down Memory Lane.

Singers from the Cecilian and Chamber Choirs: how many can you fit into a selfie…
Members of General Harding’s Tomfoolery backstage…
Some Cecilian Choir who didn’t make it into the previous choir selfie…

Thanks to all those who took part; we brought fun, we brought sunshine, we brought love!

Sigrid at Glastonbury 2019: new-minted intensity on show in confident set from Scandi pop sensation

For anyone who watched Scandi pop-sensation Sigrid’s set at Glastonbury on Saturday, having also see her set two years ago, it was a momentous moment – we were witnessing (well, I was from the comfort of the sofa, anyway…) a real coming-of-age set delivered by someone empowered now with a confidence in both her performing and her material, as well the commercial success of March’s release of her album, Sucker Punch.

From the moment she strode out onto the Other Stage to audience cheers to launch into the album’s title track, it was clear that Sigrid had a new intent, a new drive and an assurance which has grown since she performed on the Park Stage at the festival in 2017. That time, she was clearly having fun but also slightly in awe of the occasion; at one point, she shared with the audience that she had been talking to a BBC producer earlier in the day, who has said that the size of her home town was “Glastonbury multiplied with SIX!” This year, she was back with a vengeance, and a clear sense of self-belief.

Musically, too, her act has developed along new lines; her songs abounded in new catches, pushes and syncopations to material we’ve heard before, and new harmonic progressions in songs such as Plot Twist; her musical language is maturing at the same time as her stage presence.

Sharing the stories behind her song-writing, she let the audience know that her first single, 2017’s Don’t Kill My Vibe, was written in difficult circumstances, and the fact that she could sing a song about respect at Glastonbury was something special. She then launched into a fierce rendition of the song, with a new-minted intensity, exhorting the audience with fierce gestures to clap along and showing a masterfully defiant side. There was a new-found swagger to her material as well; ‘Don’t stay if you don’t mean it, ‘Cos you f~cked me up again / Just walk away, and we’ll just leave it / ‘Cos I won’t give my heart in vain.’

There were several shots during the gig of a young girl in the audience who was clearly having the absolute time of her life, veering between being utterly carried away by the music and other times so overcome by the occasion that she was in tears; she broke all our hearts, and reminded us exactly what the power of live music can be. Sigrid brought her set to an end with the cheerful melancholia of Don’t Feel Like Crying, although, along with that audience member, the rest of us certainly felt as though we did. If Saturday’s vivacious performance was anything to go by, it’s clear that Sigrid’s vibe is going to endure for a while to come.


Tip o’ the hat to alumna and former Music Scholar, Carina Evans, for permission to use the three main photos, taken at this year’s festival; Carina was there over the weekend amongst the festival-goers…

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: 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

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

Breathing Space: University Chamber Choir

Congratulations to the Chamber Choir, which participated in an unusual event last Friday at St Michael’s Church, Hernhill.

During the winter months, the church offers the opportunity to escape the pace of the Digital Age, and sit for an hour in a fifteenth-century venue by candlelight, listening to a sequence of music and silence as a means of creating a calm, meditative space in which to reflect and relax.

The Chamber Choir performed an evocative combination of choral music and silence by candlelight,  creating a meditative space rich in contrasting colours. The church bell striking eight o’clock during a moment of silence partway through was especially atmospheric, matched by the sighing of the wind in the roof, the creaking of the ancient timbers and the guttering candle-flames dancing in the draughty dark.

 

A magical experience for an appreciative congregation; the Choir is talking about doing the event again, so watch this (meditative) space…

Image round-up: Minerva Voices and the String Sinfonia

It’s been an action-packed musical week this week, with several events unfolding across three days.

Composer Russell Hepplewhite came to Colyer-Fergusson on Wednesday to hear Minerva Voices, the University’s upper-voice chamber choir, perform his recent work, Fly away over the sea, as part of the choir’s lunchtime concert. Members of the String Sinfonia joined the choir for a programme which includes music by Vivaldi, Mozart and Ola Gjeilo, alongside plainsong and an American spiritual

Russell Hepplewhite (centre) with Minerva Voices at the Lunchtime Concert

Minerva Voices, conducted by Dan Harding, in rehearsal that morning

Yesterday, the string were in action once again as the String Sinfonia performed a tea-time concert of serenades, including works by Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Britten’s Simple Symphony.

The action continues tonight, as the University Chamber Choir performs a meditative service by candlelight at St Michael’s Church, Hernhill, called Breathing Space, an hour-long event combining music and silence that creates a space for tranquility and reflection. The event starts at 7.30pm and is free, and draws the week to a close in an oasis of calm.

Which will last until next Friday’s annual roof-raising gala concert with the University Concert and Big Bands…

Concerts round-up: Chamber Choir at Wye and Peter and the Wolf

It was a busy weekend for the Music department; on Friday, the University Chamber Choir travelled out to perform at Wye Parish Church, at which the choir premiered three movements from Between Worlds by composer / violinist Anna Phoebe as part of an exhilarating programme.

And on Sunday afternoon, we were delighted to welcome back various alumni musicians as the University Camerata came together to perform Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, narrated by Senior Lecturer in Drama, Will Wollen.

(l-r): Familiar faces from yesteryear, alumni Charlotte Webb, Lydia Cheng, Cory Adams and Jasper Webb

Now to get on with the rest of this week…!