Category Archives: Keeping It Real: reviews.

Concerts and events reviews.

Appearing at ArtsFest: Sedecim!

Profiling performers and activities appearing at this year’s ArtsFest.


Sedecim is a group of young singers aged between twelve and seventeen, all of whom are pupils at Kent College, Canterbury.

 The group has only been formed recently, from present and ex-members of the well-established Kent College Choristers, winners of the ‘Outstanding’ award at the National Festival of Music for Youth and finalists in the Children’s Category of the BBC Choir of the Year 2008.

 The members of Sedecim sing regularly in various local churches, both leading the worship in services and performing concerts for charity and fund-raising events. They have already had some success, reaching the finals of the Top Choir Kent Competition in March 2010.

This will be their ArtsFest debut, and it promises to be a great event: make sure you’re there!

ArtsFest: don’t miss out, just turn up!

Recognition for music award-winning students

Music Prize Winners 2010The summer term is always a mixture of pleasure and regret: sadness that so many who have been a vibrant part of the musical life of the university are about to leave, but pleasure at being able to acknowledge some of them formally.

Last Friday saw the prize-giving for this year’s Music Awards prizes, and a chance for members of the staff and scholarship committee to recognise and thank particular students for their contribution to the year.

Winner of the Canterbury Festival Music Prize Maddie Harris received her award from Rosie Turner, Director of the Canterbury Festival, in acknowledgement of her outstanding contribution as a final-year student to Kent’s musical life.

Suzy Walton, last year’s Music Society Secretary, received the Colyer-Fergusson Music Prize for her contribution to organising music at the University from Jonathan Monckton, Chair of the Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust. It’s always a genuine pleasure for Jonathan to be able to present the award in honour of Sir James Colyer-Fergusson, who supported music at the University and after whom the Cathedral Concert every March, given by the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, is named.

Prize-winning students
(l-r): Elizabeth McIver, Alanya Holder, Maddie Harris, Suzy Walton

The University Music Awards Committee Prize, an occasional award to recognise a special contribution to the year’s musical activities, went to Biosciences student Elizabeth McIver. Presenting her award was Dr. Dan Lloyd, a lecturer in the Biosciences Department, who was delighted to be able to recognise a musical student’s achievements from within his own faculty.

The University Music Prize, awarded to a returning student, went to Alanya Holder, the new Music Society President. She received her award from Dame Anne Evans, Patron of the Music Scholarship Scheme.

Each of these worthy winners has played a significant role in the continuing success of music-making here at the University, and hopefully they will continue to be involved in music after life at Kent.

To all those musical students who are leaving this year, and who have done so much to make the University’s music a success: ave atque vale. You will all be much missed.

Appearing at ArtsFest: the Maridadi Singers!

Profiling performers and activities coming up at this year’s ArtsFest. 

Maridadi Singers
The Maridadi Singers: Photo credit: Robert Berry

Formed in 1997, the Maridadi Singers are a popular feature at the University’s ArtsFest.  Conducted by the dynamic Anita Memmott, the group is a community of world singers who perform regularly including concerts in Canterbury Cathedral, the Canterbury Festival, the University of Kent’s Gulbenkian Theatre, and in London. 

Anita is delighted to be back at ArtsFest again. ”Our group will be performing songs and drumming numbers from South Africa. We will also do some spirituals and songs from Israel/Palestine.Audience participation is encouraged and there’s always singing, drumming and dancing during our sets. Children usually have a great time with us!” 

The Maridadi singers & The Strode Park Foundation are coming together for Arts Fest: Anita had the idea of a ‘Singing for Fun” group at Strode Park. Anita volunteers to facilitate the group once a fortnight and around sixteen residents regularly attend the sessions. The benefits are clear to see as the residents reminisce with songs from their past, and are always adding new songs to their repertoire.

The residents will be with the Maridadi for the first time and will perform a selection of their favorite songs at ArtsFest.

Prepare to be moved! 

Further details about the entire day can be found on-line here

ArtsFest: don’t miss out, just turn up!

Be My Guest: Danielle Broadbent reviews the Brodsky Quartet

Be My Guest: an occasional series of guest posts and contributions. This week, a review of the recent Brodsky Quartet concert at the Gulbenkian Theatre by Danielle Broadbent. Danielle is a second-year Architecture student, and Music Scholarship Student. She plays the cello in the University Symphony Orchestra, and has also set up some additional string groups.


Brodsky QuartetThere was a good turn-out at the Brodsky Quartet concert at the Gulbenkian on Wednesday 19th May.

Many people come regularly to see the group play, so the audience knew to expect a good evening. There was a really friendly atmosphere with even a group of young people from St. Edmund’s School among the audience. It’s so easy to get to that I was surprised: for just £7 for a Student Stand-By ticket, you would have to pay a lot more to get such a professional performance any where else!

The quartet plays standing up which is unusual but works really well. It allows for lots of movement, which means that the group sometimes looks like they are dancing as they play. The four players dip and dive, showing the spark between them as they work together in a really strong team.  The first violinist is very expressive. His showy, tapping, style took him up to two metres away from the stand at times! Complimenting this is the unfussy, solid performance of the second violinist. The viola player is the spokesman of the group, introducing pieces with interesting facts and a few jokes. Beautifully interwoven with his approach is the elegant playing of the cellist. There is a definite sparkle within the group, as they use eye-contact and general movement to bring the music alive. Their playing is so well integrated that it sometimes feels like they are holding a musical conversation.

The first piece was Mozart’s Adagio and Fugue in C Minor (K546). We were told how Mozart took the examples of Bach and Handel and said ‘I can do better!’ The playing was crystal-clear with incredibly expressive playing from inside players. They made the most of the silences in the piece and looked like they had great fun playing the last movement.

The second piece was the Schumann Quartet in A Major, op. 41 no 3. 2010 is Schumann’s 200th birthday celebration year and last time the Brodskys came to the Gulbenkian earlier this year they also played his music. There was rapturous applause, and even cheers at the end of the piece!

After the interval, the concert continued with Tchaikovsky’s first quartet in D major.  This came complete with regulation coughs and shuffles between movements! The first movement was stirring, the second beautiful and the third fascinating, but the masterful, boisterous and playful rendition of the final movement was definitely my favourite part. The clever programming and showmanship of the performers worked the audience up so that the applause left no-one in any doubt that an encore was necessary!

This turned out to be the group’s own arrangement of a piano piece from Schumann’s Album for the Young. The tired but jubilant quartet settled the audience down with this lovely, quiet piece rounding up the concert in style.

Written by Danielle Broadbent.

The Brodsky Quartet in 2008, playing the Brahms Clarinet Quintet:

Be My Guest: Alanya Holder reviews Ronnie Scott’s Big Band

Be My Guest: an occasional series featuring guest posts and contributions. This week, Music Society President Alanya Holder reviews the Ronnie Scott Big Band as part of the Sounds New Festival, Canterbury.


Ronnie Scott: “If it doesn’t turn you on…”

On Sunday 16th May, as part of the Sounds New festival, Ronnie Scott’s Big Band came to the Gulbenkian Theatre. But as an extra special treat, selected musicians from Canterbury Christ Church University were invited to an afternoon workshop with the director of the band, Pete Long. I was lucky enough to sit in and watch the experience! Pete Long is a fantastically extrovert character who clearly has a passion for all things jazz and big band. He was also a brilliant director, getting the absolute best out of everyone within minutes. The noise that engulfed the Gulbenkian Cafe was astounding. We also got a little insight into how rehearsals with the Ronnie Scott band must be as everyone was so relaxed and having a great time just enjoying the music. I also feel greatly enlightened by Pete Long’s words of wisdom during the day. A lesson every musician must learn is this; “Playing a note is like streaking, once you’ve started you’ve got to commit to it!” Also I think it is important we remember the day in a certain context; “Big band music – sometimes it’s used to accompany strippers.”

Album cover
Atomic Basie (1957)

So as the afternoon drew to a close everyone was eagerly awaiting the evening performance of the two iconic jazz albums: Atomic Mr. Basie and Ellington at Newport. The evening was not only fantastic music but I felt I left knowing a lot more about the two albums and the artists as Pete Long gave each song an introduction and history (not to mention a joke or two). It was great to hear the songs performed by the band that the students had played about with earlier in the day, as you could appreciate just how good both the students and Pete Long were at bringing the music to life. Almost every member of the Ronnie Scott band had a solo opportunity during the evening, the crowd favourite being the drummer who not only stunned us with drumming but juggling as well! A quirck which put a smile on my face was watching the pianist’s feet tapping away at an incredible speed along with all the songs, I was worried he might fall off his chair.

Ellington album
Ellington at Newport (1956)

The evening went from strength to strength and towards the end of the night every song and every solo received a cheer and a standing ovation. The passion for the music in the room was evident, even if jazz wasn’t your thing! But as Pete Long said; “If it doesn’t turn you on…then you haven’t got a switch.”

Written by Alanya Holder.

ArtsFest is coming…

Saturday 12 June, 2010, from 1pm: get it in your diaries now!

The University’s end of year cultural celebrations on the Canterbury campus, with a host of sound-stages, music, dance, drama, an evening Prom Concert and events at the Gulbenkian Theatre. This year, the Gulbenkian is also the focus for family and children-friendly events and activities, and there’ll be the usual refreshments and wandering entertainment throughout the afternoon.

From capoeira demonstrations to stand-up comedy, drama presentations and dance to live music including rock, jazz and classical, there’ll be something for everyone. Local community and school groups will also be performing, and Rubber Biscuit – Kent’s hottest rhythmn and blues band – will be headlining on the main stage in the evening.

The evening will conclude with the traditional dazzling pyrotechnic wizardry of the firework display on the slopes overlooking the floodlit Cathedral.

A full list of the day’s event can be found on-line here. It’s going to be another cracker…

A very good year:Jazz @ 5.

So, the Jazz @ 5 season has drawn to a close. Now into its second year, the regular Wednesday showcase for jazz-loving Scholars, staff and students has really found its dancing feet. Set up by Dan Harding when he started in 2008 as a foil for the large-scale music-making of the University Big Band (as well as a chance to indulge in his passion for small-scale jazz ensemble-playing), the series has flourished since taking its first tentative steps in October 2008 onto the Gulbenkian Theatre foyer stage. 

Dina Watten
Dina Jazz

The series this year has featured a dizzying array of singers from the ranks of staff and students alike: Jo Turner, Jo Pearsall, Sophie Meikle, Miriam Zekagh, Dina Watten (pictured), Amy Clarke, Crystal Cowban, Lizzie McIver, Alanya Holder: all have graced the stage. Even former Scholar and jazz pianist Chris Manley has hot-footed it up the hill from Canterbury after work in order to continue playing in the series. Music this year has ranged from Fairground Attraction to Radiohead, as well as the usual array of popular standards and show-tunes. 

The original ensemble has grown to feature a regular quintet: pianist and leader Dan Harding, the elastic improvisations of guitarist Andrew Kitchin (pictured), the robust solos of saxophonist Will Rathbone – now enhanced by the arrival of some solid bass-playing from Sophie Meikle and the rhythmic underpinning of drummer Jon Nicholls. 

Guitarist Andrew Kitchin
The Kitchin sink: Andrew on guitar

And these groups are like buses: you wait for one, and then two arrive at once. This year has seen the birth of the JA Cross Quartet: Scholarship pianist James Cross and drummer Mike Macdonald have teamed up with Andrew and Will to form a refreshingly exploratory group, embracing Monk and Coltrane in their sound. 

Many thanks to everyone who has participated this year and made it such a success. As mentioned in a previous post, we were even blogged about by LondonJazz blogspot: it doesn’t get much better than that! Well, maybe Downbeat magazine, perhaps… 

We also present an album of images from Jazz @ 5, courtesy of the creative photography of Mick Norman. Some of the performers will be appearing in the Marlowe Tent at ArtsFest on Saturday 12 June: details to follow. 

Mick’s images.

The lights on-stage have faded, the piano is closed, the microphone stands alone. The singers sang, and set the sun. For now…