Category Archives: Music and Wellbeing

Take a trip down Memory Lane in Nostalgia Night

Next week, the Music department teams up with Dr Chris Deacy, Reader in Theology and Religious Studies at the University, for a special event exploring nostalgia and how it shapes us as human beings, as Nostalgia Night unfolds on Friday 22 November.

Nostalgia Night: what do YOU remember ?!
Dr Chris Deacy

The event is part of the national Being Human Festival, the UK’s only nation-wide festival of the Humanities, and brings together live music, audio clips, interviews and an interactive quiz, as Chris investigates the idea of nostalgia through words and music. Chris’ series of podcasts explores the theme with interviews as part of his research, and the event next week will see contributions from some of those interviewed as well as performances from the University Chamber and Cecilian Choirs, the 1940’s dance orchestra General Harding’s Tomfoolery, and instrumentalists. Music includes Moonlight Serenade, When I Fall In Love, The Pink Panther and other corner-stones of memory throughout the generations.

Tickets are free (reserved in advance here),  bring your dancing-shoes and join us as we take a trip down memory lane for what promises to be a night to, er, remember!

Filling the concert-hall with birdsong: Thurs 10 October

I’ve just come from a trial session in the concert-hall in preparation for a unique event as part of University activities for World Mental Health Day 2019.

At lunchtime on Thursday 10 October, we’ll be turning the concert-hall into a tranquil forest environment, bathing the hall in birdsong and the sounds of a natural forest alongside beautiful photographic images of forest views.

Image: Johannes Plenio via Unsplash

Sitting in the midst of Colyer-Fergusson Hall, it was possible to lose yourself in the audio and visual environment to the point where it almost felt as though you were actually outside; the dimly-lit hall was transformed into a haven of tranquility, a welcome respite from the frantic activity and the demands of the Digital World at the start of a new academic year.

Next Thursday, we’ll open the doors of the concert-hall and people are invited simply to come for as long or as short a time as they wish, to sit in stillness and enjoy a meditative environment which (if the trial session proves anything to go by) promises to be a wonderfully relaxing experience.

The event starts at 1.10pm and admission is free; the doors will be left open for visitors to come and go whenever the wish. Come and experience the outdoors indoors…

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…

Paws for thought: farewell to Croft

The University Chorus bade a fond farewell to a very special member at the rehearsal last night.

Alumna Lydall Bywater, a member of the soprano section in the University Chorus, has been accompanied to rehearsals and concert over the last five years by her guide dog, Croft. Croft is notorious for regularly falling asleep as the music begins – even when seated behind the orchestral percussion!

Croft has now reached retirement age, and last night was his final rehearsal. He has been a popular figure at rehearsals and performances keeping Lydall company; we all wish him a much-deserved and happy retirement!

Image gallery: Olafur Arnalds concert

Thanks to photographer Molly Hollman, not only for these atmospheric photos of the performers in last Friday’s Lunchtime Concert, but also for her spectacular landscape photography which featured in the performance.

A string quartet of third-year students Florence Obote, Melody Brooks, Molly Richetta (all of whom are University Music scholars or Award holders) and cellist Ken Macdonald, together with Your Loyal Correspondent at the piano, unfurled the meditative music of Icelandic composer, Olafur Arnalds, into a darkened concert-hall, against a backdrop of Molly’s photographs capturing the natural landscapes from around the country.

A rapt audience was kept spellbound during the entire performance; thanks to all the performers.

Mondays Rock!

This academic year, the Music Department has become a workplace member of Rock Choir, the pioneering national organisation with over 20,000 participants which encourages everyone to sing. Under the expert and inspiring direction of alumnus Jonathan Grosberg, staff and students meet every Monday lunchtime and, without needing to read a note of music, have so far learnt Shut up and dance with me and A Little Respect – including moves!

Members of staff are coming along from a whole range of departments across the campus – it is still not too late to join this term. Director of Music, Susan Wanless, is thrilled with the way the idea has taken off and from all the feedback she has received, making music is clearly very good for you.

Karen Cherpin, Administrator to the Head of School, School of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial Science
I absolutely love it! I find it really uplifting and it definitely improves my mood and energy levels. I always go back to my office feeling revitalised and ready to face whatever the afternoon may throw at me.

Katie Van Sanden, Industrial Placement Co-ordinator, School of Computing
Love it, love it, love it! Perfect antidote to the Monday blues – it feeds the soul! With singing, harmonies, new friends and lots and lots of (unexpected but very welcome) laughter, what’s not to like? And Jonathan is just brilliant!

Danika Jarrett, Project Co-ordinator, Information Services
It gets me away from my desk, gives me something else to focus on for that time, and is great for wellbeing because I’m totally immersed in what Jonathan is saying and concentrating on what to sing, which is great for mindfulness and controlling breathing. It’s also been nice to meet people from other departments in the University as well. I hope it continues to go from strength to strength as I’ve been recommending it to all my colleagues!

Susan Wanless

Lunchtime Concert explores South Indian music on 30 May

We’re delighted to have been able to reschedule our postponed Lunchtime Concert from February, to bring music from South India on Wednesday 30 May at 1.10pm.Postgraduate University Music Performance Scholar, Ramnath Venkat Bhagavath is studying for a Masters in Applied Actuarial Science at the University of Kent, and brings a strong performing tradition to the campus. In 2016, Ramnath performed in the renowned ‘Swathi Sangeethotsav’ at the royal palace of Trivandrum, an event which attracts musicians from across the globe.

The Lunchtime Concert, taking place in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, will feature a selection of different ragas and thalas in the Carnatic music tradition, accompanied by violin, mridangam and ghatam.

Admission is free, with suggested donation £3.

Furley Page logo
Sponsors of the Lunchtime Concert series

Into the woods…

Had you ventured into the woods around Parkwood on Friday, you might have stumbled across a string quartet; not something you might expect, but this year’s student string quartet was involved in a photo-shoot ahead of an unusual performance next month.

The Billhook Nook outdoor theatre space, part of the Creative Campus initiative, will play host to a performance of Dvořák’s American quartet, as the ensemble heads out into the summer sunshine (or so we hope, anyway…) Comprising third-year Law student and Music Scholar, Lydia Cheng, second-year Asian Studies & Classical and Archaeological Studies student, Alice Nixon, second-year Music Scholar reading Mathematics, Molly Richetta on viola, and final-year Law student, cellist Alex Deacon-Viney, the ensemble plans to take Dvořák’s popular work out of the concert-hall and into somewhere you wouldn’t expect to hear it.

Assuming the weather is as good (or even better) than it is at the moment, people are encouraged to bring a picnic and enjoy some fine weather and even finer music on Thursday 31 May at 1.10pm. During what is always a busy term, with students (and staff) working under the pressure of examinations, the chance to hear music in an informal and relaxed environment will hopefully offer a welcome respite from the term’s busy commitments.

Admission is free, event details here.