Category Archives: Now Hear This!

Music you should hear at least once…

Continuities and radical surprise: the absorbing treasury of Magnificat 2

The second volume in the Magnificat series by Andrew Nethsingha and The Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge takes a keen look at settings of the Evening Canticles across the years, from 1932 to 2019 from stalwart composers of the canon in Sumsion and Howells to perhaps lesser-known figures including Sydney Watson (who conducted the first performance of Walton’s epic The Twelve) and Giles Swayne, as well as contemporary titans Arvo Pärt and Julian Anderson.

Swayne’s wonderfully dynamic Magnificat I setting revels in repetition, bearing African influences, pitching glowing upper-voices over repeated lower voices, whilst a radiant ‘Amen’ recedes skywards. There is the usual vigorous, robust setting by Walton, a richly celebratory response to the text’s jubilation. Luminous cluster-chords opens Lennox Berkeley’s meditative, contemplative setting, which pushes ahead with a wonderfully expressive flow, in contrast to Swayne’s rhythmically robust response. Pärt’s hushed, timeless incarnation of the text is filled with a reverential awe in its widely-spaced textures and unhurried pace.

The disc finishes with the challenging, bracing setting by Julian Anderson, written for the college’s 150th anniversary in 2019. His Magnificat is vibrant with polyrhythms and a dizzying web of textures; contrasting lyrical, melodic lines unfold over glowing sustained chords in Anderson’s richly colourful tonal language. In contrast is a sedate, darker-hued Nunc Dimittis – which brings the whole disc to a reverentially hushed conclusion.

The introductory essay by former Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, speaks of “these ancient hymns, so redolent of continuities yet so full of radical surprise,” words true both of the canticles and of this absorbing treasury, impeccably performed by St John’s College Cambridge Choir under the direction of Andrew Nethsingha.

Magnificat 2 is released on 16 April on Signum Classics.


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.

Cellular Dynamics in Lockdown: science and music come together in a series of filmed chapters

All this week, we are presenting individual chapters from the Cellular Dynamics project, exploring cutting-edge scientific research imagery and video from the School of Biosciences, in dialogue with music.

Filmed during lockdown, the unfolding series brings together image and music in a meditative presentation of both the materials and the methods involved in research, uncovering the hidden beauty in the most mundane of objects in the research laboratory and transforming the process of investigation into an artistic experience, filtered through piano music by Philip Glass, Debussy, John Cage and Tarik O’Regan.

Colyer-Fergusson Hall becomes an immersive platform for highlighting processes operating in both science and music – viral infection and the process of mutation linked to compositional processes in music, together taking the viewer on an odyssey through sub-molecular events at the cellular level.

Chapter One: Abstract

Chapter Two: Materials and Methods:

The series can be viewed as a complete set on our YouTube channel here, including an introduction from Professor Dan Lloyd in the School of Biosciences; read more about the project here.

In Conversation with Kate Romano: new podcast episode

If you missed last night’s Zoom For Thought: In Conversation screening with clarinettist, presenter and CEO of the Stapleford Granary venue, Kate Romano, you can either watch it again on our YouTube channel, or – if you prefer your content as a podcast – it’s now on our various podcast platforms, starting with Anchor:

Click here to listen.

A fascinating discussion, looking at new ways of engaging audiences, performers and listeners, re-thinking traditional concert-models, and looking at the implications of using digital platforms to provide musical experiences.

From Biosciences to Bridgerton: a podcast interview with Catriona Bradley

Welcoming the new year with a new episode in the podcast series, Zoom For Thought, featuring University alumna, Catriona Bradley, who moved from reading Biology to RADA and whose work is currently gracing our screens in the series ‘Bridgerton,’ currently taking Netflix by storm…!

Alongside reading Biology at Kent, Catriona sang in the University Chorus, Chamber Choir and Minerva Voices, and was involved in making costumes for the Musical Theatre Society.

Catriona Bradley

In the short interview, she talks about making the change from science to the creative sector, the benefits and transferable skills earned from her studies, and compares her experience at Kent with that at RADA.

Listen to the episode on Spotify here.

There’s also a web interview with Catriona on our YouTube channel, a longer discussion about her experience, which screens on Friday 8 Jan at 1pm and will remain online thereafter.

Thanks to Catriona for taking the time to share her experience; this is a short part of a longer filmed web-interview, coming soon….