Category Archives: Keeping It Real: reviews.

Concerts and events reviews.

Image Gallery: A Christmas Cornucopia

Congratulations to the members of the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, on a splendidly seasonal concert last month. Part of the Anniversary Weekend celebrating ten years since Colyer-Fergusson first opened its doors, A Christmas Cornucopia brought the choir and orchestra together (including many musical alumni) in music by Tchaikovsky,  Handel, Buxtehude and Malcolm Arnold.

Pictured are the musicians in rehearsal and performance, including the post-concert reception in the foyer afterwards with guests, Music donors and alumni.

Photos © University of Kent / Nathan Eaton-Baudains

A night (and afternoon) at the opera: Lois Cocker reviews the Glyndebourne visit to Colyer-Fergusson and beyond

The Music department hosted players from the Glyndebourne Touring Orchestra and Pit Perfect Scheme for an afternoon performance and workshop, before we took a group of student musicians to see the production of La Bohème at the Marlowe that evening. Here, final-year Forensic Science student and cellist, Lois Cocker, looks back on her experience throughout the day.


Last Wednesday I had a fun day, full of music, which I was able to be a part of thanks to being part of the University String Sinfonia. The Glyndebourne touring orchestra visited Canterbury and put on a lunchtime concert in the Colyer-Fergusson hall which was incredible to watch. After the concert I was then part of the workshop where some musicians from the orchestra coached the String Sinfonia as part of their Pit Perfect scheme. I play the cello and so was lucky enough to sit next to one of the pro cellists who was so lovely and friendly! The professionals from Glyndebourne gave us great advice which we all took on board and will definitely use in our playing in the future.

Glyndebourne Pit Perfect players performing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall
String Sinfonia and Glyndebourne players at the workshop in the afternoon

After the workshop, some of us went into town to get some pizza before heading out to watch the Glyndebourne opera – La Bohème at the Marlowe Theatre, which we were lucky enough to attend thanks to being treated by the music department here at Kent. This was my second ever opera I had seen. (Last year I was able to see my first ever opera with the String Sinfonia, The Rake’s Progress which was also a Glyndebourne production). La Bohème was such a beautiful opera which I enjoyed so much- it even made me cry! The music from the orchestra was incredible, I almost forgot that it was all being performed live as it was immaculate! I’m so glad I was able to experience this.

Members of the String Sinfonia and director Flo Peycelon, with some of the Glyndebourne players at the Marlowe Theatre

Before I had ever watched an opera, I always assumed it wasn’t really my cup of tea, but after now seeing two operas I can’t wait to see more! I was so engrossed watching La Bohème, it was comedic and also emotional. The voices of the opera singers were so beautiful. After the performance we had the opportunity of speaking to some of the musicians again. I was able to learn about their musical upbringings and their musical careers which I found so interesting and inspiring.

A forensic approach: final-year student and cellist, Lois Cocker

All-in-all it was an amazing day and I feel so lucky to have been part of the experience. It’s a massive part of my university experience that I will cherish forever!

Lois Cocker

With thanks to Chris Stones (Head of Tour Development), Jonathan Tunnell (Tour Orchestra Manager) and all the visiting Glyndebourne staff and players.

Emotional and transformative: review of the Chan-Jack Duo at Colyer-Fergusson Hall

First-year  Philosophy, Religion and Ethics student and musician, Sara Davies, reflects on the recent opportunity to work alongside the Chan-Jack Duo on their recent visit to perform in Colyer-Fergusson as part of our Lunchtime Concert series.


On Wednesday, I had the pleasure of watching the superbly talented Chan-Jack Duo play their EP Air as part of the series of lunchtime concerts in Colyer-Fergusson Hall.

Laure Chan and William Jack performing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall as part of the Lunchtime Concert series

This included a 50 minute set of five songs that perfectly blended the east and the west whilst incorporating a multitude of genres from rock, pop, classical, Latin and many more.

I was totally enthralled by the immense talent of both Laure Chan (on violin) and William Jack (on cello and guitar). Their music, a fusion of different cultures, was colourful, emotional and transformative.

After the concert, I had the opportunity to participate in an improvisation workshop with the duo, where we created a fusion that revolved around the pentatonic scale. We explored the different ways in which our instruments could make non-melodic sounds, and I was able to use the body of my guitar to create amazing percussive lines alongside the other instruments.

Towards the end of the workshop, I  had the honour of performing one of my original songs to the duo which was amazing! The support and feedback from both of them was particularly help as well!!

Sara Davies in the workshop

All in all, I have to say the Chan-Jack Duo have definitely been my favourite concert here at the university and the opportunity to work alongside them is something I will remember forever.

Sara Davies

Image Gallery: Summer Music Week: Part Five: Saturday Gala

The closing rehearsals and concert to bring both Summer Music Week and the musical year at the University to a rousing conclusion, featuring the Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, Minerva Voices, and soloists Will Morgan (Economics) and Ridima Sur (Physics), together with a closing speech from the outgoing President of this year’s Music Society, final-year Psychology student Felicity Bourdillon.

Images © Chris Wenham / University of Kent

Image Gallery: Composer in Focus: John Woolrich

Many thanks to everyone involved in Saturday’s Composer in Focus event; a great opportunity to hear from John Woolrich, a major figure on the British compositional landscape, about his approach to composition, relationship to music from the past, and ideas behind the pieces performed by the University Symphony Orchestra, String Sinfonia and Music Scholar pianists.

John is currently Associate Artist, and has been in attendance at rehearsals and a recent performance by the String Sinfonia in Folkestone as we prepared for Saturday.

The event was an opportunity to bring University musicians and John together to explore two of his works; Ulysses Awakes and Gesänge der Frühe, pieces with two distinct relationships to music of the past. As part of the event, John also talked about his approach to composing, the context surrounding the music performed, and learning from models of the past – musical ‘echoes’ being a particular, fascinating aspect of John’s music.

Composer John Woolrich pays close heed to the rehearsal

Thanks to Flo Peycelon for directing the String Sinfonia, to second-year postgraduate Architecture student and Music Scholar Charlotte Cane for playing the solo viola in John’s Ulysses Wakes; and also to second-year Chemistry postgrad and Music Scholar, Kira Hilton, who played the solo viola in performances of the same piece at Folkestone’s Cafe Eleto and at Studio 3 Gallery on the University campus recently.

The University Sypmhony Orchestra

Thanks to all the musicians, including Scholar pianists Will Morgan (Economics), Michael Lam (Kent and Medway Medical School) and Hana Faizuramira (Politics and International Relations).

Pianist and KMMS Music Scholar, Michael Lam
Third-year Economics student and Music Scholar, Will Morgan
Postgraduate in Politics and International Relations and Music Scholar, Hana Faizuramira

Contemporary music really is the lifeblood of our times; it writes in the urgent language of Now, addressing today’s concerns, and as we heard, is often mindful of its relationship to the past; how fantastic to have brought one of its exponents in to work with the Music department this week. Thank you to John for his support, and for being a wonderfully generous and insightful ‘In Conversation’ guest.

John Woolrich with director of the String Sinfonia, Flo Peycelon
Second-year Architecture postgrad and Music Scholar, Charlotte Cane, with composer John Woolrich before performing his ‘Ulysses Awakes’
John Woolrich in conversation with Head of Music Performance, Dan Harding
Second-year Chemistry postgrad and Music Scholar, Kira Hilton, with John Woolrich

Images © Nathan Eaton-Baudains / University of Kent

Image Gallery: Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert: in rehearsal

Congratulations to all the members of the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra on Saturday’s electrifying return to Canterbury Cathedral. For the first time since 2019, the annual Colyer-Fergusson concert resounded in the Cathedral Nave, and we were delighted to welcome back several alumni to take part.

Thank you also to our fantastic soloists: soprano Rachel Nicholls, mezzo Emma Stannard, and two Kent alumni, tenor Andrew Macnair and bass-baritone Piran Legg.

Images © Chris Wenham / University of Kent

In pictures: Music Scholars’ masterclass with London Conchord Ensemble

It’s never easy to take part in an instrumental masterclass; it’s like having a very public lesson, with someone you’ve only just met, who’s asking you to produce instant results in the way you play.

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So it’s many congratulations to flautists Rena Ward, Yuyu Hosokawa and Kiran Dehal, and pianists Will Morgan and Hana Fairuzamira, on this afternoon’s masterclass with members of London Conchord Ensemble, working on the three movements of the Poulenc Flute Sonata. The session followed on from the ensemble’s Lunchtime Concert, and was a great opportunity for some of this year’s Music Performance Scholars and Music Award Holders to work on Poulenc’s challenging work.

Cecilian Choir sings Choral Evensong: watch on demand

Students, staff and alumni of the University sang at Canterbury Cathedral yesterday, taking part in the centuries-old tradition of Choral Evensong in the heart of the city as the University Cecilian Choir; as well as welcoming an in-person congregation, the event was also livestreamed.

The University of Kent Cecilian Choir lining up ready to process

Congratulations to everyone who took part, including visiting organist, John Wyatt, who played for the service, and to the Cathedral for welcoming the Choir. It’s a wonderful opportunity to sing in that richly-resonant acoustic as part of a lineage of worship across the centuries, and the performers enjoyed the service immensely.

The service remains online to watch on the Cathedral’s YouTube channel below.