Category Archives: Notes on Music

The philosophy of music: or the music of philosophy ?

University musicians set to make a Beautiful Noise as part of the Canterbury Festival next week

Student musicians from the University will be taking part in the Canterbury Festival’s Beautiful Noise project at Westgate Hall on Saturday 23rd October.

The project brings together players from local educational establishments, including Simon Langton Grammar School, St Edmund’s School and the King’s School, as part of a day of community music-making in this year’s festival, and brings the whole day to what promises to be a rousing conclusion with big band jazz and swing under the direction of Head of Performance at St Edmund’s School, Ian Swatman.

“It’s very exciting to be bringing young players in the region together to play such great music.” enthuses Ian, “empowering the performers and audiences of tomorrow, and giving them a platform as part of Canterbury’s international celebration of the arts.”

Students from the School of Law and the School of History will be amongst the saxophone and brass sections of the ensemble that night; find out more here,

Festival logo

Lunchtime Concert series launches next week

We’re very excited to say that our new Lunchtime Concert series launches next week, as the series of live performances returns to Colyer-Fergusson Hall once more.

The series begins on Wednesday 20 October at the usual time of 1.10pm with what promises to be a mesmerising sequence of Indian ragas performed by British sitarist and composer, Jonathan Mayer, together with tabla-player Denis Kucherov.

Image: (c) Matt Wilson / University of Kent

The event also begins a series of partnerships between the Music Department and professional performers; this year, Jonathan will be working with third-year Physics student and Hindustani singer, Ridima, towards a performance later in the year.

As always, the lunchtime concerts are free to attend, but this term tickets need to be booked in advance of the performance, which can be done online here.

The Music department is grateful to Furley Page Solicitors for its continued spobnsorship of the series.

Sponsors of the Lunchtime Concert series

We look forward to seeing you next, as we usher in the new season of lunchtime events!

New season ‘What’s On’ details now out!

it’s been a while since we’ve been able to say this, but our new What’s On pages are now live with all the details about the Autumn term concerts!

Image: (c) Matt Wilson / University of Kent

Live music is back in earnest for the new term, as our Lunchtime Concert series welcomes sitar player Jonathan Mayer, a recital of music for viola de gamba by Asako Morikawa, the Deptford Rivieras in a post-launch party for their latest CD, and a special extra concert featuring the Glyndebourne Touring Orchestra and Pit Perfect, including a post-concert workshop with student string-players.

Tour Orchestra 2019, Glyndebourne. Image: James Bellorini

The December concert by the Chorus and Orchestra has a sparkling seasonal flavour, including music by Tchaikovsky and Vaughan Williams, and the term finishes in rousing fashion with the customary Christmas Swingalong featuring the Big Band and the evergreen Ian Swatman.

Image: Matt Wilson / University of Kent

We can’t wait to be back – take a look at all that’s coming up this term, and we look forward to seeing you once more.

Sponsors of the Lunchtime Concert series

Header image: Andy Holmes / Unsplash

A little Latitude: recent graduate Maddie Rigby reflects on this year’s festival

Maddie Rigby graduated from the University last month with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies, alongside which she played clarinet in the Orchestra and Concert Band, as well as singing with Chorus and the Cecilian Choir. Here, she reflects on experiencing this year’s Latitude Festival whilst volunteering with Dash Arts Theatre, a welcome return to live music and accidentally attending a secret gig by one of the 80’s biggest stars…

Maddie Rigby

I only found out I was going to be working at Latitude a week and a half before it began! I signed up to volunteer with Dash Arts Theatre as part of their performance event ‘Forum’ throughout the festival, and when I wasn’t on shift, I could see as much as I wanted. Being so last-minute and worrying way too much about camping for the first time, I put hardly any thought into the fact that I would be surrounded by live music and about 40,000 people for the first time since lockdown began.

As a COVID Test Event, every attendee had to show proof of a negative test before arriving and answer a health screening questionnaire each morning. As a performer, we also had to take an additional test two days into the festival to be allowed access back onto the main site. The detailed and regular checks made the whole event feel safe and for the first time in a year and a half I didn’t wear a mask for four days in a row.

Latitude is a festival that has something for everyone and is extremely family-orientated. Walking through the festival you can see the variety of performances and experiences on offer from the Theatre Arena in the forest, to the Zen Den which led meditations and yoga and onto the Comedy Arena, before finally reaching the main music stages. The variety available made Latitude feel more like a celebration of the Arts than a music festival. The relaxed atmosphere made it so easy to wander around and discover new artists creating music, theatre and art.

Over the weekend I saw such a range of performances that it’s hard to sum the whole festival up. The very first thing I saw was a collaboration of Brass Bands playing mostly Beyoncé and the last, a psychedelic R’n’B singer, Greentea Peng. Over the whole festival I saw pop artists like Maisie Peters and Mabel, headliners the Kaiser Chiefs, Wolf Alice and Bombay Bicycle Club and even Bill Bailey. On the final day Latitude announced a surprise performance from The Vaccines, an appropriate choice seeing as COVID jabs were being offered at the festival! The band had one of the largest audiences I saw and the crowd spilled out of the BBC Sounds Stage, groups of friends and families sat down outside just to listen to the band. The enjoyment of listening to live music and seeing people’s favourite bands was contagious. It was an incredible feeling to be in the middle of a huge crowd, singing and dancing along again.

On the Saturday night, whilst searching for the last live music before every stage turned to DJ sets, a friend and I stumbled across a small seven-piece band playing covers at the Trailor Park Stage. The two female backup singers were so much better than the male lead, but we decided to stay because a huge crowd had gathered behind us. It wasn’t until our work group chat messaged about a ‘secret gig’ at the Trailor Park and we googled his name to check his face against the man who was currently in front of us, did we realise we had been listening to Rick Astley (The guy who sang ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ in the 80s). Not really our fault when he refused to sing any of his own songs that evening. It was definitely one of the strangest performances I saw the entire weekend.

One of the main reasons I went to Latitude was to see Arlo Parks, who I’ve already talked about on an episode of Vinyl Countdown (see below). Unfortunately, she was unable to perform because she had tested positive for COVID earlier in the week. I was disappointed but there were a few music discoveries I made which made up for it. If I could recommend a few artists I found and loved it would have to be Lucia & The Best Boys, Ellie Dixon and my favourite of the entire weekend, Greentea Peng. Like most of the music I listen to, they are all pretty chilled out so if that’s your vibe, definitely check them out!

The overriding feeling at Latitude was one of relief and excitement from every performer for the opportunity to be in front of a live audience again. At the start of every set there was always a genuine and heartfelt recognition from the performer for how amazing being at a festival and with other people was. Being in the crowd, it really felt as though the artists were just as excited to play as we were to hear them. Witnessing the return of live music and celebrating it with complete strangers was worth waiting for.

Although I had to sleep in a tent and my feet are killing me from doing nearly 46,000 steps each day (genuinely reached 46, 133 on the Saturday) I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be there. Latitude has made it clear that we should all take the chance to have as many new experiences and make new memories now that we can.

Maddie Rigby (Drama & Theatre Studies, 2017 – 2021)

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.

In pictures: Summer Music Week 2021

It was marvellous to get back to music-making at the end of term, to bring musicians and audiences together for the annual musical farewell to the University’s academic year. Many thanks to the University photographer, Matt Wilson, for capturing the events throughout the course of the week.

Big Band: Sunday Swing


Music Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital
(read the programme here)


Music Scholars’ Evening Recital: Canterbury Cathedral

(read the programme here)

Closing concert: Music for a Summer’s Day

(read the programme here)

With thanks to all the performers, audiences, staff and technicians who made this all possible. An especial farewell and thanks to all those who were performing for the final time.

Images: © Matt Wilson / University of Kent

Summer Music Week: Big Band Sunday Swing and Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital

The first two events in this year’s Summer Music Week have got the series off to a flying start; at the weekend, the Sunday Swing with the University Big Band, conducted by Ian Swatman, and vocalist third-year Elle Soo, went down a storm!

The event was also the inaugural livestream direct from Colyer-Fergusson and had a lively online audience watching at the time – since then, it has gone on to garner (at the time of writing) well over 800 views – if you missed it, you can see it below or watch it here:

Yesterday saw the first of two Scholars’ Recitals (the second takes place on Friday in Canterbury Cathedral); a selection of this year’s Music Performance Scholars presented a programme including a classic number made famous by Etta James, some sparkling French flute repertoire, and closed with a vivacious duet for two violas by Telemann.

l-r: Weiqi (Arthur) Zhang; Euan Bonnar; Charlotte Cane; Kira Hilton; Joanna Adaran; Beth Chapman

Many thanks to all the performers involved in both events; it’s great to be back making live music in Colyer-Fergusson once more and welcome audiences through the doors; and it’s not over yet…

#MinervanMiniatures: Five preludes by Nannie Louise Wright

Our sonic cabinet of curiosities exploring forgotten piano repertoire written by women, Minervan Miniatures, presents five preludes by American composer Nannie Louise Wright (1878/9 – 1958), from her collection 12 Preludes Op.25.

This selection ranges from Wagnerian grandeur to dazzling Saint-Saens-esque virtuosity that disappears in a flash, and a fascinating prelude ‘For The Left Hand Alone.’ The entire set is a marvellous addition to the canon of prelude-writing, in the tradition including Chopin, Rachmaninov and Debussy, and surely deserves to be better known. We’ll be rectifying this as part of a planned recital series next year…