Category Archives: Notes on Music

The philosophy of music: or the music of philosophy ?

Was It Good For You: international student Charlotte Jeanneret reflects

Charlotte Jeanneret, who studied at Kent last year in the School of English as an exchange student and played the flute in Concert Band and sang in Chorus in the Music department, looks back on her experience.


Music has been the highlight of my experience as an exchange student at the University of Kent.

Charlotte Jeanet (centre) and other musicians before the spring concert in Canterbury Cathedral

I must say the many extracurricular opportunities are what made me choose Canterbury in the first place, but I never thought it would bring me so much joy and discoveries. Indeed, for example, I used to be stuck with the idea that I could not sing… But the openness of the University Chorus convinced me to take it up and I loved it so much that I am now considering joining the choir of my home university, here in Switzerland!

First-year Music Performance Scholar, Yuyu, and Charlotte pictured backstage during Summer Music Week

Although I still have nightmares about Goodwin’s Freefall [who chose that ?! Ed] Wednesday evenings with the Concert Band were always very entertaining and spurred me on musically more than any other ensemble I have ever been part of.  I left for England with just one flute and came back with a piccolo also!

University Concert Band performing in Summer Music Week, conducted by Ian Swatman
University Chorus rehearsing in Canterbury Cathedral ahead of the Spring concert

Finally, music at Kent has allowed me to meet beautiful people with whom I have loved practising, sharing stands and scores, and who have become awesome friends.

I already look forward to coming back.

University Music Prizes recognise outstanding contributions to music-making

One of the highlights of Summer Music Week is the Music Prizes ceremony, an occasion to recognise the outstanding contributions made by some of those taking part in extra-curricular music over the course of the academic year.  This year, we were especially delighted to return to the in-person ceremony, which follows the annual Music Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital, and to welcome supporters, benefactors and guests for the first time since 2019.

Charlotte Cane receives her prize from Rosie Turner, Director of the Canterbury Festival

Director of the Canterbury Festival, Rosie Turner, was present to award the Canterbury Festival Prize, awarded annually to a  final-year student who has made an outstanding contribution to music at the University. This year’s winner was second-year postgraduate Architecture student, Charlotte Cane;  a Music Performance Scholar, leading the second violin section in the Symphony Orchestra as well as playing viola in the autumn term, and a viola player in the String Sinfonia, Charlotte also performed the solo viola part in Ulysses Awakes by John Woolrich in the Composer in Focus event with both the composer and her teacher present. 

Professor Keith Mander presents the Colyer-Fergusson Prize to third-year Holly Porton

Former Pro Vice Chancellor and current Chair of the Board of Canterbury Festival, Professor Keith Mander, presented the  Colyer-Fergusson Music Prize: awarded to a student who has made a major contribution to the organisation of music at the University. This year’s winner was second-year Architecture student, Holly Porton;   Secretary to the Music Society, Holly has been particularly helpful in dealing with administrative connections between the Music department and the Music Society. Holly also played clarinet in the Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band, violin in the String Sinfonia, and played piano in the pit band for the spring production by the Musical Theatre Society. 

Second-year postgraduate Biomedical Science student, Kammy Pike, receives her prize from Head of Music Performance, Dan Harding

The John Craven Music Prize: awarded to a returning student who has made a major contribution to music at the University, and this year was awarded jointly to Kammy Pike and Michael Lam. Second-year postgraduate in Biosciences and a Music Performance  Scholar, Kammy Pike has led the Symphony Orchestra this year including in the annual Cathedral Concert, and also plays in the String Sinfonia, with whom she played the final solo movement of Vivaldi’s Spring in a recent performance. 

KMMS Music Performance Scholar, Michael Lam, performing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall in April 2022

Second-year undergraduate and a Music Performance Scholar in the Kent and Medway Medical School, Michael Lam gave an outstanding recital as part of the spring term’s Lunchtime Concert series, the first student to be invited to do so, delivering a highly-accomplished programme entirely from memory. He also played the celeste part in the December concert in Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker Suite. The John Craven prizes were presented by Head of Music Performance, Dan Harding (awarded to Michael in absentia, as Michael was on placement throughout the week).

Joanna Adaran (l) and Felicity Bourdillon and Nathan Sharp (r) with David Humphreys’ daughters

The David Humphreys Music Prize is warded to a student who has made a particularly special contribution to music-making; this year, it was awarded jointly to Joanna Adaran, Felicity Bourdillon and Nathan Sharp , and presented by David’s daughters, Belinda and Jo, who spoke briefly about their father’s enjoyment of, and support for, music.

Final-year Comparative Literature and Drama student, Joanna Adaran is a Music Performance Scholar and has been a major participant in this year’s activities by the Musical Theatre Society in showcases and events, and also had a principal role in the society’s production of The Hunchback of Notre-Dame performed in the Great Hall of Kent College in March. She also sings with the Cecilian Choir. 

Final-year Drama and Comparative Literature student, Joanna Adaran, receiving her prize

Final-year Psychology student Felicity Bourdillon holds a Music Performance Award; she has really grown in her abilities this year, taking a lead role in the Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and Chorus; she sang the opening solo verse in the University Carol Service at the Cathedral in December, and will be singing the solo Pie Jesu movement of Faure’s Requiem in the chamber choir Crypt concert in June. Her singing has really developed this year, and she has led the soprano section in chamber choir particularly with authority. 

Final-year Psychology student, Felicity Bourdillon (r), receives her prize

Second-year Music and Audio Production student and Music Performance Scholar, drummer Nathan Sharp has been a major force behind the weekly live music nights and Open Mic nights at the Deep End venue in Medway with the Medway Music Society, playing in numerous bands and also being partly responsible for organising the events. He also performed in the Pop Platform event in the Gulbenkian Café in December. 

Second-year Music and Audio Technology student, Nathan Sharp, collects his prize

The final prize, presented by the Director of  Engagement, Philip Pothen, was the University of Kent First-Year Music Prize, which is occasionally awarded to a student who has made a major contribution to music in their first year , and which was awarded to to Yuyu Hosokawa.  Yuyu is a highly accomplished flautist, a Music Performance Scholar and a vital member of the woodwind section in the Symphony Orchestra, playing with poise in both the December and the March Cathedral concerts, as well as taking part in a Music Scholars’ masterclass with the London Conchord Ensemble in March.

Together with the Music Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital which precedes the award ceremony, the two events are an excellent opportunity to highlight some of our outstanding performers and participants who have made such a vital contribution through participating in extra-curricular music alongside their studies, taking the opportunity to engage in rehearsals and performances as part of their cultural life whilst at Kent.

Some of the recital performers, prize winners and prize-givers together after the event

Congratulations to all the prize-winners, and our thanks to all the guests, supporters, and those presenting the prizes, as well as to the performers and all those who came along to support the event.

Images © Chris Wenham / University of Kent

Image Gallery: Summer Music Week: Part Five: Saturday Gala

The closing rehearsals and concert to bring both Summer Music Week and the musical year at the University to a rousing conclusion, featuring the Symphony Orchestra, Chorus, Minerva Voices, and soloists Will Morgan (Economics) and Ridima Sur (Physics), together with a closing speech from the outgoing President of this year’s Music Society, final-year Psychology student Felicity Bourdillon.

Images © Chris Wenham / University of Kent

Image Gallery: Summer Music Week: Part Three: String Sinfonia

The University String Sinfonia celebrate music for string orchestra on Day Three of Summer Music Week, directed by Flo Peycelon. The programme included final-year Economics student Jenny Pang in Massenet’s Meditation and second-year Architecture student, Kammy Pike, in Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, as well as the premiere of a work by Canterbury-based composer, Matthew Brown.

Images © Chris Wenham / University of Kent

Minerva Voices @ Studio 3 Gallery Weds 1 June for an evocative lunchtime concert

Ahead of its performance in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral next month, our upper-voices chamber choir, Minerva Voices, will fill the resonant acoustic of Studio 3 Gallery on the University’s Canterbury campus with music ranging from across the centuries.

From Hildegard von Bingen, through works by Brahms, Gounod and Alvin Lucier to contemporary pieces by Russell Hepplewhite and Sarah Quartel, the half-hour programme will ring round the art gallery in an immersive sonic treat for the audience.

The performance is on Weds 1 June at 1.10pm in the gallery in the Jarman Building; join the choir for an evocative celebration of sacred and secular song.

More details on Facebook here.

Fugitive pieces: behind the tapestry of the Ghosts and Whispers project with Clare Hammond

Colyer-Fergusson Hall will host what promises to be a wonderfully atmospheric event at the end of this month, as pianist Clare Hammond brings a combination of music and film to the concert-hall as part of the Ghosts and Whispers tour.

The project, a combination of live piano pieces haunted by ideas of ‘fragments, last thoughts, elegies and absences’ and specially-commissioned film, embraces music by an eclectic range of composers; before the performance on Friday 27 May, The event beguils with its promise of immersing the listener in a world of illusions and shadows, interweaving works by Mozart, Schubert, Schumann and others with piano miniatures by John Woolrich.

Intrigued at the notion, I caught up with Clare and asked her about some of the ideas behind the project…


Female pianist sat at a grand piano

How did you decide which composers’ repertoire to pull together ? It’s a wonderfully eclectic mix of composers for the theme of the event.

We wanted to explore fragments – short pieces, many of which are unfinished – and create a rapidly changing tapestry of different styles. Listening to the programme (and performing it!) really is a unique experience. You will hear fragments of pieces by Mozart and Schubert for the first time – ideas for sonatas that never saw the light of day. There are works that muse on death by Janacek, Stravinsky and John Woolrich, a touching Sarabande from Elisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre, and a philosophical puzzle by Robert Schumann. It provides a radically new perspective on familiar composers while the visual elements transport us to a surreal and unsettling world.

 

How do John’s Pianobook pieces work to hold the programme together ?

John’s Pianobooks are essentially a series of miniatures that explore a myriad of different themes – Goya’s Caprichos (engravings of witches and monsters that form a grotesque counterpoint to Enlightenment ideals), Baudelaire’s Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil), and ‘micograms’ by visionary Swiss writer Robert Walser, highly admired by Kafka but then incarcerated in an asylum for much of his life. While the miniatures are ‘finished’, they are ephemeral and many just evaporate into thin air. They are the perfect partners to these vanishing fragments by more familiar composers, some of which barely register before they disappear.

How do the live music and the filmed content related to one another ?

We created the musical programme first and the Quay Brothers then put together a sequence of fragments from previous films that had been unused – left on the cutting room floor! Music and film are very tightly bound together and precisely synchronised. On the whole, music in a more familiar or tonal style is paired with abstract images, while John Woolrich’s music coincides with these grotesque puppets. The narrative, again, is fragmentary – it promises continuity and then snatches it away.

How would you like / do you hope audiences will respond to the immersive combination of music and film ?

Ghosts & Whispers is so unusual that it is impossible to predict how people will react. I hope that the audience will very quickly feel submerged in this bizarre universe, and that they think back to the piece for many years to come. I have performed it several times now and whenever I return to the work, I find more layers to unpack. It is certainly very macabre and, at times, unnerving but, in providing such an unorthodox perspective, it also brings depth and a wealth of new ideas.


The performance will fill the concert-hall on Friday 27 May at 8pm; book tickets here for what promises to be a unique experience…