Category Archives: Notes on Music

The philosophy of music: or the music of philosophy ?

All the fun of the (Freshers’) Fayre

We’ve reached the end of Welcome Week here at Kent, at today sees the second day of Freshers’ Fayre on the Canterbury campus. The piazza outside Jarman and the marquee in Eliot car-park  thrum with activity, as the myriad societies vie for punters amongst faces new and old thronging the campus.

Amongst the hordes can be spotted members of the Music Society, who over the past two days have been spreading the word about the profusion of extra-curricular music-making opportunities afforded to students (and staff!) in the University community; yesterday the committee was based in the foyer in Colyer-Fergusson, where the live stage also hosted live chamber music; today, the committee is in the Eliot marquee.

Music Society Exec 2018: l-r Alice Shires (Secretary), Fleur Sumption (President), Molly Richetta (Treasurer)

Well done to all the team involved over the past several days, led from the front by this year’s Music Society President, third-year Fine Art student, Fleur Sumption (pictured above), supported by her very active team. The Music Society will be joined by the Musical Theatre Society at the Music Intro on Monday 24th October at 7.30pm in Colyer-Fergusson, open to all students at the University, to meet Music Department staff, learn more about the various ensembles and sign up for auditions. See you Monday…

Hannah’s American Diary: Part Three

The third part of Music Scholarship student Hannah Ost‘s summer diary at the French Woods Festival of the Performing Arts in New York…


I’ve just finished at camp and have so much to write about. It’s been so busy, I’ve had no time at all to blog! Here it is, my second session at camp, which brought lots of challenging hurdles to overcome.

I mentioned in my last diary entry that I was going to be the Musical Director and play piano in the pit band for the show Junie B Jones. Well, only 50% of that turned out to be true; I was the Musical Director for the show, but since we ended up using a drummer for the show as well, I decided to conduct and somebody else stepped in, to fill my shoes as pianist. It was a real learning experience to conduct both the musicians and the performers together, especially seeing as the performers were so young – the youngest was nine years old! Myself and my Co-MD, Nicole, taught the full score in what was effectively 24 hours (12 days of 2 hour rehearsals) and the show was a huge hit with parents, staff and campers alike. Definitely a highlight from my time at French Woods.

Again, I taught a lot of voice lessons and it was great to see how much the students learnt in just three, half-hour sessions.

That’s all for this post, I’ll post an update with all the details from my third and final session at camp soon!


Read the previous extract here.

New season, new brochure: a look ahead

We’re delighted to reveal the new season of our What’s On is now launched online!

Ferio Saxophone Quartet (Image: James Mccormick)

Our customary Lunchtime Concert series this term brings the Ferio Saxophone Quartet, an exploration of the music to Hitchcock’s classic Vertigo and seasonal music from the CantiaQuorum ensemble; the University Chorus and Orchestra explore the ‘Old and New’ in a programme of seventeenth century music and modern realisations and responses to it; the University Musical Theatre Society performs its termly showcase including songs from Chicago, Hamilton and Dream Girls, and the term concludes in festive style with the traditional Christmas Swing-Along featuring the University Big Band.

Hansel and Gretel (Image: Still Moving Media with permission from Cheltenham Festival)

Together with the Canterbury Festival, we also bring a dark realisation of the story of Hansel and Gretel in a blend of chamber music, puppetry and animation, with music written by composer Matthew Kaner to words by Simon Armitage; the Festival also brings percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and Trio HLK in November. Elsewhere, Aurora Orchestra brings Mozart, Mendelssohn and Jorg Widmann, and there’s a chance to hear Sir Thomas Allen. With visits too from local societies and orchestras, the new autumn season will see Colyer-Fergusson Hall filled with music old and new as we head towards the festive season.

See all that’s to come online here, or download the brochure (PDF) here; we look forward to welcoming you to Colyer-Fergusson over the coming months.

Added value: University Music Performance Scholarships

Musicians are versatile people. They are used to the discipline of rehearsing and practising, to the expectations of conductors and collaborators that they will arrive for an event prepared and able to deliver. They are organised (hopefully, anyway), accustomed to setting aside time to practice and juggling rehearsals and performances alongside other demands of life – shopping, studying, going to school, taking exams, doing the laundry, filling out forms (oh the heady glamour…). They are used to working under pressure, performing in the white-heat of the public eye (and ear) in concerts. And they are usually skilled at working with others, at establishing working relationships quickly and confidently.

Here at Kent, the University recognises that all these qualities are immensely valuable in its students, and that potential students looking for a suitable university at which to pursue their degree may often be trained musicians, who have combined their school life with musical commitments for many years, and who want to continue with their musical interests alongside their course of study. If you’ve spent many years learning an instrument or taking singing lessons, putting in endless hours of practice and performance, then music forms a large, rewarding, part of your life that you don’t necessarily want wholly to rescind when you go to university, and it can be a challenge adjusting to the gaping chasm left in your life that was previously occupied by music; listening to it, practising it, performing it.

So we offer Music Performance Scholarships to those who are keen to continue with their musical pursuits whilst studying at Kent. Our Music Scholars (usually numbering between ten and fifteen each year) come from across the university community, studying all manner of subjects from Law to Biosciences, Wildlife Conservation to Politics and International Relations, History to Drama. There are Scholars from across the country; from far-flung corners of the world (Malaysia, South Africa, India, Canada to name a few); and from across the county of Kent itself. All of them, however, united in their enthusiasm for, and commitment to continue making, music for the three years during which they take up residency in Canterbury. Whether attending lectures in Woolf College, drama rehearsals in Jarman, mock sessions in the Moot building as part of Kent Law School, or maths seminars in the Sibson Building, they will all, at various points during the week, make their way in to the Colyer-Fergusson Building to rehearse in the concert-hall or practice in the practice-rooms. And throughout the year, they will perform not only in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, but in Canterbury Cathedral, Deal Memorial Bandstand, and churches and venues around the county, making lifelong friends with others along the way.
Percussionist and former Music Scholar, Cory Adams, talks about his experience, playing with the Concert and Big Bands, Orchestra, General Harding’s Tomfoolery and other ensembles:

And here’s brief excerpts from the Music Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital given as part of Summer Music Week in June this year:

Blond ambition: clarinettist Rianna Carr

The university recognises and values the skills and abilities that musicians can bring to its community when they come to Kent to study; the phrase ‘Good musicians make good students’ is often quoted, with Scholars often going on to graduate with first-class degrees. If that includes you, then take a look at our Scholarships page online here, and see how you could become involved in a rich musical life alongside whatever course you may be looking to study.

Hannah’s American Diary: part One

University Music Performance Scholar Hannah Ost is currently working in New York at the French Woods Festival  for the Performing Arts as part of Camp America. Alongside her busy schedule, she’s keeping a festival diary for the rest of us to enjoy: here’s the first instalment…


Tuesday 10 July

It’s been almost a month since I landed in the US so I thought I would update you on what I have been doing at French Woods Festival here in New York!

In the morning, I teach voice lessons to whoever wants to sign up. I have had as little as two students in two hours and as many as nine (which was a crazy day!)

After lunch, I am the Assistant Musical Director for two shows: James and the Giant Peach and a rewrite of Snow White which I have helped rewrite some music for. I mainly teach the solo numbers, while the Primary MD teaches ensemble songs. I’ll be playing the Keys 2 part in the pit band for the first.

I have also been given my assignment for the next session, which begins next week. I’m going to be the Primary Musical Director for a show called Junie B Jones and I’ll be playing Keys 1 and conducting the pit band for that show too!

I’ll keep you posted…

How music enhances learning: an article in Neuroscience News

A fascinating article in Neuroscience News looks at neuroscience research that links learning music with enhanced cognitive abilities.

A variety of research literature has been drawn together from all over the world, and seems to suggest that learning music enhances both cognitive as well as speech, attention and memory skills.

Playing an instrument primes the brain to choose what is relevant in a complex process that may involve reading or remembering a score, timing issues and coordination with other musicians.

The report author,  Nina Krauss, Hugh Knowles Professor of Communication Sciences and Neurobiology and director of Northwestern’s Auditory Neuroscience Laboratory, suggests also that there are “strong implications for education,” and also for aiding neural processes in children with learning disorders.

Read the full article here.

Feeling the heat: Open Day brings musical students to Colyer-Fergusson

Despite the twin threat of soaring summer temperatures and the quarter-final match as this year’s England football squad edge ever closer to the World Cup Final, last Saturday’s University Open Day brought visitors aplenty both to the Canterbury campus as well as to Colyer-Fergusson.

Amongst the visitors filing through the doors of the music building were people from Somerset, Devon, Northamptonshire, Surrey, Hertfordshire as well as from London and Kent itself; however, the prize for the Visitor from the Farthest-Flung Shore went to a lady from Paris.

Thanks to some of our loyal Music Scholars and student ambassadors (pictured above), who took the time to lead tours of the building and its facilities for extra-curricular music-making, sharing their experience of combining their academic studies with their musical life, and to Fleur, President of the Music Society for the next academic year.

To everyone who visited, hope you had a safe trip home – hopefully the roads at 3pm, when the day closed, were rather quiet for you…

Exhibition celebrates the construction of Colyer-Fergusson

The gallery is currently hosting the exhibition of photographs charting the construction of Colyer-Fergusson, originally created as part of our five-year anniversary celebrations marking 2017-18 as the half-decade since we opened our doors at the end of 2012.

The exhibition, on display throughout the summer, is open during normal working hours, admission is free, and there is disabled access.