The Big Band was rehearsing on Sunday ahead of its event on Sunday 6th June, Sunday Swing, which will launch this year’s Summer Music Week.
Willing victims as always, the players, conductor Ian Swatman, together with third-year Social Anthropology student and singer, Elle Soo, gamely agreed to allow us to use the opportunity to test the livestreaming facility, in order to share the concert online (a limited audience capacity means we aren’t able to accommodate the usual Full House that greets the Big Band events).
Whilst the ensemble was working, the technical crew was working tirelessly behind the scenes to set up and test the cameras, microphones, lighting and streaming platform around the musicians; and I’m pleased to say that it worked. There were some spine-tingling moments as live music lifted into the concert-hall once more after so many months without it, and it was lovely to see the audience-seating back out in the hall, something we’ve not seen since March 2020!
Thanks to Thomas, George and Joe, we’re delighted to say that, for those who can’t join us in person at 2.30pm this Sunday, we will be able to share the event live online. Watch the event live on YouTube here (see also below) – thanks to Ian and the players for heroically acting as our digital guinea-pigs as we usher in the new Digital Age in Colyer-Fergusson Hall…
Rehearsals for Summer Music Week were especially welcome this week, as the ensembles returned to the concert-hall for the first time since last November.
All week, the hall has been reinvigorated with the sound of Concert Band, Big Band, Chamber Choir, String Sinfonia and Orchestra rehearsing for the series of events in a few weeks’ time; and several of the Music Scholars have been working on chamber music as well.
It’s a welcome return to live music-making, hearing the building resound to ensemble music once more.
Congratulations to everyone involved in Saturday’s annual Music for a Summer’s Day Gala concert, the crowning event as part of Summer Music Week.
The University Chorus, Orchestra and Chamber Choir each gave a final, valedictory appearance in seasonal, summery music, whilst the members of the Limoncellos filled the foyer before the concert with stirring film tunes and pop music arrangements.
Final-year sopranos Helen Sotillo and Fleur Sumption brought a packed hall to tears with a rendition of You’ll Never Walk Alone on the final occasion of their singing with the Music department in what has proved to be a memorable year for both ladies.
The incoming President of the Music Society, second-year Owen Kerry, provided some scene-stealing moments as he deftly wielded name-cards (and at one point a mobile phone for a couple of selfies…) as part of An Illustrated Guide to the History of the Symphony.
And final-year flautist Robert Loveless was handed the baton to conduct the traditional encore which brought the concert to a rousing conclusion.
Following the concert, audience, performers and guests spilled out into the marquee for the annual cream tea, for which the sun shone and blue skies bloomed overhead.
What becomes apparent at the end of the Gala concert is what a wonderful sense of community has been built up during the academic year by everyone involved in extra-curricular music-making at the University. It’s a real tribute to how committed everyone is, and how involved they have become, to see so many of those graduating so moved by the occasion of their final appearance; parents, friends and family all coming along to support throughout the series of events often remark on how much being a part of music at Kent has meant to the students involved throughout their time. There’s a lovely feeling of camaraderie throughout the entire week, as the various ensembles gather for a final musical hurrah before the academic year ends.
Our thanks to everyone who has been a part of the Music department across the year; undergraduate and post-graduate students, staff, members of the community and all the alumni who have returned at various points either to participate or to be part of the audience. To all those who are leaving this year: thanks for all your contribution – hail and farewell!
One of the great pleasures of Summer Music Week is the opportunity publically both to recognise and to thank particular students for their outstanding contributions to music-making over the course of the academic year at the Music Prize ceremony. The annual presentation of prizes to worthy recipients takes place following the Music Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital, which showcases some of the talented students at the University each academic year.
The Canterbury Festival Music Prize, is awarded to a final-year student who has made an outstanding contribution to music at the University. This year, the prize was awarded jointly to flautist Robert Loveless and string-player Molly Richetta.
Robert was a final-year student reading Computer Science with a year in Industry, and has played flute and piccolo in the University Symphony Orchestra throughout his time at Kent and also played in the Concert Band and various flute ensembles. This year he was Principal Flautist in the Orchestra playing in all the major concerts, and was also the only student woodwind player in a recent performance of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf – a fiendish flute part! Robert was a University Music Performance Scholar, studying with Rosemary Rathbone, and was Secretary of the student Music Society in his second year. He also sang bass in the University Chamber and Cecilian Choirs.
A final-year student reading Mathematics, Molly Richetta has been a Music Performance Scholar and studied with Floriane Peycelon. She is a highly accomplished player on both the violin and viola so for the past two years has moved between the two instruments, playing in the String Sinfonia and the University Symphony Orchestra – making her indispensable! She also played in a number of other ensembles and quartets this year and has a been in great demand from other local orchestras to play as a professional in their concerts – so has been an excellent ambassador for our music-making. Molly has just finished her year as Treasurer of the student Music Society. Both students received their prizes from the Director of the Canterbury Festival, Rosie Turner.
The Colyer-Fergusson Music Prize is awarded to a student who has made a major contribution to the organisation of music at the University, and this year’s winner was Tom Barton, a final-year student reading Politics and International Relations.
Tom played bass clarinet and saxophone in the University’s Concert Band and Big Band. He was one of the Assistants for these two groups, liaising with the conductor, Ian Swatman, helping to set-up rehearsals, and co-ordinating, circulating and collecting all the many sheets of music which go into the instrument folders. This prize particularly recognises Tom’s contribution to the smooth running of many of our major concerts. When not playing, he has volunteered to assist and steward at them, working quietly, politely and efficiently with the members of the public and Music Department staff and setting a great example to the other student stewards. Tom received his prize from the former Chair of the Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust, the Hon Jonathan Monckton.
The University of Kent Music Prize, which was presented by Professor John Craven, a former Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University, is awarded each to a returning student who has made a major contribution to music at the University this year. The prize was awarded jointly to Carmen Mackey, a second-year student studying Drama and Theatre, and to Leon Schoonderwoerd, in his second year of a PhD in Theoretical Physics. Carmen has had a very busy year as a singer. She was a member of the University Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and the Minerva Voices, and was the Sorceress in our semi-staged performance of Purcell’s opera, Dido and Aeneas, in Colyer-Fergusson in February. She has been an extremely active member of the Musical Theatre Society and coached and performed in their recent successful production of Sondheim’s Company. Carmen was a Music Performance Scholar, studying with Juliet Schiemann.
This year, Leon Schoonderwoerd received a Music Performance Award to study clarinet with Ian Swatman. He was Co-Principal clarinettist in the University Symphony Orchestra, lead clarinettist in the Concert Band, and has formed a number of chamber ensembles. Leon also played timpani and percussion, performing in a number of concerts this year – including some very dramatic thunder in Dido and Aeneas… Both winners received their prizes from Professor Craven.
Awarded to a student who has made a particularly special contribution to our music-making this year, the David Humphreys Music Prize was awarded jointly to Fleur Sumption (pictured below, left) and Helen Sotillo, both final-year students – and both sopranos!
Completing her postgraduate degree reading Law (LLB Senior Status), Helen has sung in the University Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and the Minerva Voices. She has featured as soloist in many concerts, including the December Choral Concert and last term she was Dido in the performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, to great acclaim. This year Helen has also been a highly efficient manager of the University Chorus, keeping both the music and its members in check, and plays bassoon in the Concert Band. She has been a Music Performance Scholar, studying singing with Linda Hirst.
Fleur Sumption was a final-year reading History of Art, and similarly has sung in the University Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and the Minerva Voices. She has featured as soloist in many concerts, including the December Choral Concert and last term she was Belinda in the production of Dido and Aeneas. Fleur has also been one of the two vocalists in the University Big Band and when not singing plays alto saxophone. She has just completed her year as President of the student Music Society and as a Music Performance Scholar, studied singing with Juliet Schiemann. The two winners received their prizes from two of David Humphreys’ daughters, Josephine Humphreys and Belinda Howard, who were present at the ceremony.
The final prize, 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 at Kent, was awarded to Elle Soo, in her first year of studying Social Anthropology. At the start of each academic year we audition student vocalists for the University Big Band. Elle was only a few weeks into her time at Kent but immediately made a great impression and this year has starred along with Fleur in the Christmas Swing-along and the concert in March. She performed last Sunday with the Big Band in their annual very popular visit to the Deal Bandstand. She also featured in the sell-out Summertime Swing event during Summer Music Week. Elle received her prize from Dame Anne Evans, patron of the University Music Scholarship Scheme and former international operatic soprano.
The ceremony was presided over by Dr Dan Lloyd, Chair of the University Music Prize Committee and himself an orchestral instrumentalist. Our thanks to the invited guests, supporters, and prize-givers who attended the ceremony, and our congratulations to all the prize-winners.
Congratulations to all the performers involved in the mesmerising first performance of Between Worlds by composer / violinist Anna Phoebe, which took an entranced audience on a meditative odyssey on the penultimate day of Summer Music Week.
Drawing on research media from the School of Biosciences, Anna’s piece explores the intangible boundary between science and art in a collaborative piece for choir, strings, percussion, soloists and film-projections by artist Skyla Bridges. Conducted by Deputy Director of Music, Dan Harding, the University Chamber Choir and String Sinfonia, together with Anna herself on violin, pianist Jacob Downs, second-year postrgraduate Leon on percussion, and oboist Dan Lloyd (also Deputy Head of the School of Biosciences) unfurled Anna’s evocative piece against a tapestry of ambient electronic soundtracks and beneath Skyla Bridges’ wonderfully beautiful projections taken from research imagery by Dr Chris Toseland.
The first half of the concert saw a conducter-less (for the most part) String Sinfonia in music by Britten, Reger, Purcell and Arvo Pärt’s lachrymaic Cantus in memoriam Benjamin Britten, for which the strings were joined by conductor, Susan Wanless. Pärt’s haunting tribute to Britten closed the first half an set the atmosphere for the second.
Afterwards, performers, audience and guests mingled for a post-concert reception to celebrate the fruition of a project that has been in rehearsal since January. Read the programme from the event yourself here.
The relentless pace of Summer Music Week continues; Wednesday saw a roof-raising gala concert from the University Concert Band and Big Band under the baton of Ian Swatman entertaining a packed house. Prior to the concert, the sax quartet played on the foyer-stage, led by Peter Cook.
And yesterday saw a celebration of chamber music in A Musical Miscellany, ranging from a fiercely-modern duet for two violins by Prokofiev to the first movement of Borodin’s String Quartet no.2, lively woodwind music by Seiber, a fragile aria by Copland and the String Sinfonia in not-quite-Mozart…
Plus post-performance selfies, of course…
Summer Music Week continues tonight with the premiere of Between Worldsby composer/violinist Anna Phoebe by the Chamber Choir and String Sinfonia, plus string music by Britten and Pärt.
Two further music-filled days as part of this year’s Summer Music Week; on Monday, the University Rock Choir, directed by alumni Jonathan Grosberg, had an enthusiastic audience clapping along to songs such as Don’t Stop Believin’ and Roar; the choir’s debut brought a standing ovation in Colyer-Fergusson Hall.
And Tuesday saw the annual Music Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital, which began in unique fashion this year with first-year Biosciences student and highland bagpiper Eloise Jack – her skiriling pipes were heard outside the hall before she entered on the balcony to instant applause.
Final-year Computer Science student, Robert Loveless, dazzled in a rhythmically vivacious Bossa Merengova by Mike Mower.
Four final-year violinists then delivered a pitch-perfect performance of Telemann’s second Concerto for Four Violins; Zaneta Balsevic (reading Music Performance), Florence Nightingale Obote (Biosciences), Molly Richetta (Mathematics) and Melody Brooks (Psychology).
The programme took a folksy turn in the form of two saxophone duets from two first-year Music Scholars, David Curtiss (reading Physics) and Megan Daniels (Law), in melodies from Bulgaria and Spain.
The concert drew to a close with final-year sopranos Fleur Sumption (History of Art) and Helen Sotillo (LLB Law Senior Status) in a lyrical rendition of the ‘Barcarolle’ from The Tales of Hoffmann.
A highly responsive audience greeted all the performers at the end for a collective bow – our thanks to all the players. The concert was followed by the awarding of this year’s Music Prizes, about which more anon…
There was Of Course time for selfies afterwards…
Our music festival continues tonight with the annual roof-raising extravaganza that is the valedictory concert from the University Concert Band and Big Band under the baton of Ian Swatman. Still plenty more to come…
As temperatures soared and the weather became balmier, Summer Music Week launched over the weekend in the first two events of this year’s annual celebration of the musical year at Kent.
On Friday, the University Chamber Choir and Consort gave an electrifying concert in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, for which they were joined by composer and violinist Anna Phoebe in three evocative movements from Anna’s Between Worlds, an exploration of music and science that receives its full premiere later this week. Second-year student Hannah Ost led the choir in a piece in the first half as part of a wide-ranging programme that received huge applause from a packed crypt audience.
And yesterday, conductor Ian Swatman bravely headed out to the seaside with the University Big Band, to entertain a Sunday crowd at the Memorial Bandstand at Deal, including guest vocal appearances from final-year student Fleur Sumption and first-year Elle Soo. Sea, sunshine and swing – perfect conditions for a perfect day.
Well done to everyone involved; Day Three of Summer Music Week today features the University Rock Choir in action. Find out all that’s going on throughout the week here.
Because it does. Doesn't it ? Blogging about extra-curricular musical life at the University of Kent.