Category Archives: Music and Wellbeing

Hold Your Heart: live webchat with alumna and musician Lena Younes

One of the pleasures of engaging digitally with people this past year has been catching up with various alumni and finding out how they have been creatively active at a time when creativity and the arts has been facing real challenges.

My guest earlier is no exception – former Music Scholar Lena Younes, who graduated in 2011 having read Drama and Theatre Studies and History at Kent, singing with the Chamber Choir and at the Jazz @ 5 sessions on the old Gulbenkian cafe stage.

Lena releases her first single, Hold Your Heart, at midnight tonight (or will have done, depending on when you read this…), and I took the opportunity to chat to her about her writing process, the challenges of remaining creative during the past year, and the influences on her music. Watch it online here – my thanks to Lena for taking part.

Zoom For Thought: an interview with Radio Lento

This week’s episode in our podcast series is the first of several featuring Hugh Huddy, who, with his wife Madeleine, is the creative force behind Radio Lento, a podcast series presenting wonderfully evocative soundscapes recorded in the natural environment. From dawn chorus in the Forest of Dean to shingle beaches at Folkestone, each Radio Lento episode presents an immersive listening experience, offering, in Hugh’s own words, ‘weekly sound postcards from beautiful places.’

In this first episode, Hugh reflects on the challenges of recording the natural world; the concept of authenticity and being true to the practice of capturing the environment in sound, in single, unedited takes; and similarities between listening to soundscapes and to music, and the idea of defeating time.

Listen on Spotify here, or on Anchor here.

https://radiolento.podbean.com/

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!