Category Archives: Notes on Music

The philosophy of music: or the music of philosophy ?

Image round-up: Minerva Voices and the String Sinfonia

It’s been an action-packed musical week this week, with several events unfolding across three days.

Composer Russell Hepplewhite came to Colyer-Fergusson on Wednesday to hear Minerva Voices, the University’s upper-voice chamber choir, perform his recent work, Fly away over the sea, as part of the choir’s lunchtime concert. Members of the String Sinfonia joined the choir for a programme which includes music by Vivaldi, Mozart and Ola Gjeilo, alongside plainsong and an American spiritual

Russell Hepplewhite (centre) with Minerva Voices at the Lunchtime Concert

Minerva Voices, conducted by Dan Harding, in rehearsal that morning

Yesterday, the string were in action once again as the String Sinfonia performed a tea-time concert of serenades, including works by Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Britten’s Simple Symphony.

The action continues tonight, as the University Chamber Choir performs a meditative service by candlelight at St Michael’s Church, Hernhill, called Breathing Space, an hour-long event combining music and silence that creates a space for tranquility and reflection. The event starts at 7.30pm and is free, and draws the week to a close in an oasis of calm.

Which will last until next Friday’s annual roof-raising gala concert with the University Concert and Big Bands…

Worn and Weathered: new exhibition comes to Colyer-Fergusson Gallery in March

Music and art come together throughout the month of March, as the Kent-based collective of artists, Earthbound Women, presents a new exhibition in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery. Worn and Weathered will feature landscape in the extreme eroded by centuries of wind and relentless rain and the pounding of the sea.

Earthbound Women are united by a passion for clay, earth, form and landscape. Exhibiting together regularly, they record their dreams, annotations, observations, aspirations and their life in Kent. The exhibition features work by ceramicists Barbara Colla  and Clare Curtis, painter Julie Frampton, painter and printmaker Ruth McDonald, and printmaker Kristiina Sandoe.

Coastal Strata: Ruth McDonald
Russell Hepplewhite

The exhibition reflects the Lunchtime Concert which will be given by Minerva Voices, the University’s female-voice chamber choir, and ensemble on 13th March, and links particularly to the idea of exploring landscapes, in Tundra, an evocative piece by Ola Gjeilo reflecting part of his native Norway, and Fly away, fly away over the sea, a recent setting of a words by Christina Rossetti by the exciting British composer Russell Hepplewhite, who will be in attendance. The programme also includes music by Abbess Hildegard of Bingen. Both the concert and the exhibition explore concepts of the natural landscape, and also celebrate women in the arts, as musicians, writers, composers and artists.

Painting by Julie Frampton

Earthbound Women’s Worn and Weathered will be on display in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery from  Saturday 2 to Saturday 30 March during normal working hours; admission is free, and there is disabled access. The Lunchtime Concert by Minerva Voices and Ensemble is on Wednesday 13 March at 1,10pm in Colyer-Fergusson Hall; admission free, suggested donation £3, more details online here.

Chamber Choir sings Choral Evensong

Many thanks and congratulations to the members of the University Chamber Choir on delivering a fine Choral Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral yesterday.

The University Chamber Choir preparing to process into Choral Evensong

The students travelled down the hill to participate in the centuries-old tradition of evensong, with a colourful set of Responses written by David Truslove, and the evocative anthem Blest are the Pure in Heart by composer James Webb, both of which rang beautifully in the lofty roof of the Quire.

Composer James Webb and daughter (centre) with the University Chamber Choir in the Quire of Canterbury Cathedral

And thank you to James, who had travelled down to Canterbury especially to hear the Choir perform his piece. It was a lovely opportunity for the students to participate in the daily life of the Cathedral and experience the nature of the service of Evensong.

We return to the Cathedral for the annual Colyer-Fergusson concert in the Nave on Saturday 30 March, and the University Cecilian Choir will be singing Choral Evensong on Tuesday 28 May.

 

Chineke! Junior Orchestra at the Southbank Centre: Melody’s view

Over the weekend, third-year Music Performance Scholar and violinist, Melody Brooks, took part in the Chineke! Junior Orchestra’s events as part of the Imagine Children’s Festival at the Southbank Centre; this is her story…


This weekend, I had the pleasure of playing with the Chineke! Junior Orchestra as part of the annual Imagine Children’s Festival that takes place in the Southbank Centre. Children of all ages gathered (with their parents) to take part in a number of workshops with us and then watch our concert.

Each workshop was led by a different person. The first two were led by dancers, who focused on the first and last movements of the Othello Suite by Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. They taught the children dances to to fit the pieces, and then the orchestra surprised them by entering through the audience and performing the pieces live. After an initial play-through, the children and orchestra performed the piece together, in front of all their parents and peers. The final workshop, led by a viola player in the Chineke! senior orchestra, was a singing workshop. This focused on the ‘Children’s Song’ in the Othello Suite. She taught them a song based on the main melody of the piece, and again, the children were able to perform it live with the orchestra. The audience truly enjoyed exploring the movements of this recently resurrected suite.

The concert started at around 3:20pm. Conducted by the brilliant Stephanie Childress, we performed the St. Paul’s Suite by Gustav Holst, the first movement of Bach’s Concerto for Two Violins in D Minor, and four of the five movements of the Othello Suite. We were truly inspired by our conductor, who brought clarity and excellence to our interpretation of the pieces. A former BBC Young Musician of the Year finalist, she was the epitome of musical excellence. The atmosphere was truly electrifying. The children were enthralled by all the lively movements, whilst their parents were moved by the slow ones. Everyone was in awe of the two young female soloists in the Bach concerto. They carried themselves with grace and poise, and perfectly embodied the essence of Bach. I was especially proud of Inez and Shona, especially as I had met and played with Shona as a budding violinist 10 years ago. All in all, it was a beautiful concert, especially considering that we only had two-and-a-half days to prepare!

Finally, the concert ended with a bedtime story told by the founder of Chineke!, the formidable Chi Chi Nwanoku, OBE. She told the children how music had always been a massive part of her life, and how she started playing the double bass after a knee injury took her out of the running for the Olympics. As she revealed her motivations for founding Chineke! – and more specifically the Chineke! Juniors – the orchestra accompanied her with the harrowing ‘Willow Song’ of the Othello Suite. It was truly moving.

All in all, it was a beautiful weekend experience. I had fun learning the new, enthralling music by Coleridge-Taylor and playing St Paul’s Suite (which has a special place in my heart!). I was able to meet new musicians, including several LPO Junior Artists (the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s initiative in partnership with the Royal Academy of Music) and future Royal College of Music attendees. It was an honour to play with such talented and dedicated BME youth, and I look forward to seeing what the orchestra does in the future. Be sure to check them out!

‘Remember me…’

Rehearsals are well underway for the performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas by the University Cecilian Choir, String Sinfonia and soloists in two weeks’ time; here are some shots from recent rehearsals, including Music Scholar, soprano Helen Sotillo, rehearsing Dido’s heart-breaking lament, the Cecilian Choir as palace courtiers in Act I, and some of the String Sinfonia rehearsing Act II.

The tragic story of the doomed love of the Queen of Carthage for the Trojan prince unfurls in Colyer-Fergusson Hall on Friday 1 February at 7pm; more details online here.

Burns unit: first-year Scholar pipes us home

Congratulations and thanks to first-year Music Scholar, Eloise Jack, who piped us home on Friday evening in honour of Burns Night.

Jack of all trades…

Dressed in her Day Uniform, Eloise – who is in her first year studying Biochemistry – patrolled the piazza outside Gulbenkian as people headed home at the end of the day, sending a selection of traditional Scottish tunes skirling into the evening air.

Cellular Dynamics goes to Hong Kong

The ever-developing Cellular Dynamics project, where science meets music, takes on an international aspect this weekend, with a performance as part of #SPARKhk2019 in China.

A Festival of Ideas run by the British Council in Hong Kong which takes place from 18-20 January, the weekend includes an incarnation of Cellular Dynamics at Tai Kwun, at the venue pictured here earlier today by Professor Dan Lloyd from the School of Biosciences.

Read the Festival programme online here, and follow Cellular Dynamics on Twitter here.

New year, new brochure: now out

As the new year shuffles forwards into the light, we’re pleased to announce that our new What’s On season is now published, both on–line and as the new brochure.

The new issue is positively groaning ‘neath the weight of all the events we have coming up between January to July; the Lunchtime Concert series continuing, including a visit from players from the Philharmonia; our annual Cathedral Concert with Chorus and Orchestra, and the Concert and Big Band Gala in February; the Chamber Choir is leaping around the county with concerts in Wye and at the Historic Dockyard in Chatham; the Cecilian Choir and String Sinfonia come together for a performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas featuring several Music Scholars in the cast; the inventive Chineke! comes to the Dockyard Church; the Chamber and Cecilian Choirs voyage down the hill to sing Choral Evensong at Canterbury Cathedral; plus an array of visiting local ensembles.

See all that’s to come online here, download a copy from here, or pick up one of the mighty tome hard copies from Colyer-Fergusson or Gulbenkian, and feast your eyes on all that’s to come. We look forward to welcoming you at one of our events over the coming months.

 

 

Sponsors of the Lunchtime Concert series