Category Archives: Summer Music

Summer music events at the University

Summer Music brings University community together in farewell

The academic year has now come to a close, and last week’s Summer Music celebrations saw the year out in fine style.

Hot on the heels of the traditional battle-of-the-bands competition, Keynestock, the five days of events in Summer Music saw a host of musical activities, each one reflecting a different aspect of music-making at Kent and highlighting musicians from across the University community and beyond, each taking their moment to bid farewell to the end of another year.

Carina Evans

The Music Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital on the first day saw flautist Kathryn Redgers playing Bach, harpist Emma Murton in some jazz, marimba-player Carina Evans in some shimmering percussion textures, and soprano Marina Ivanova in dazzling form with some scintillating top-notes and effervescent cascading semi-quavers in Vivaldi’s Nulla in mundo pax sincera, accompanied by the University Camerata.

Later in the evening, the University Big Band under Ian Swatman enthused the Gulbenkian audience in a vibrant programme, that also saw some robust playing from special guests the Simon Bates Quartet and superb singing from Music Scholar and Big Band vocalist, Ruby Mutlow. Traditionally, there’s a moment when Ian invites all those performing for the last time to take a bow: only two players rose to their feet, leading to the suggestion that, with the influx of new players again next year, it might have to be re-christened the University Very Big Band!

Chamber and Cecilian Choirs in rehearsal

St Mildred’s Church in Canterbury city hosted the Chamber and Cecilian Choirs, who combined in a programme of works for solo and double choirs; the church was packed, and an enthusiastic audience treated to works by Schütz and Van Morrison from the massed combined ranks of singers; there was also Lauridsen, Victoria and Hassler from the Cecilian Choir in the first half, and Barnum, Brahms, Rachmaninov, Lassus and Billy Joel from the Chamber Choir in the second half. String players from the University Orchestra welcomed the audience with some pre-concert quartet music, while the irrepressible tenor section of the Chamber Choir burst into spontaneous barbershop singing during the post-concert refreshments.

Saturday saw the Music Theatre Society topping a highly successful year with There’s No Business Like Show Business! in the Gulbenkian Theatre, a showcase bursting with music from West End shows, Broadway musicals and popular music theatre favourites.

Sunday afternoon saw the culmination of the week and the musical year as a whole, in the annual Music Society Summer Concert, with valedictory performances from the Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Choir and the University Chorus. The Concert Band paid a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the fact that it was the last concert in Eliot Hall – next year, we move to our exciting new music building – with a rendition of The Great Escape, whilst the Orchestra paid its own tribute with the last section of Haydn’s Farewell Symphony, which sees members of the orchestra slowly leaving the stage, leaving only two violins remaining to bring the piece, and the afternoon’s concert, to a close.

University Orchestra in Haydn's 'Farewell' Symphony

The whole series of events across Summer Music really encapsulates what making music at the University is all about. Embracing students, staff, alumni, members of the local community, family and friends, all of whom combine to rehearse and perform on top of their course- or work commitments, the dynamic of music at Kent is all about the community experience. It’s a terrific opportunity for students to pursue their musical interests as an extra-curricular activity alongside their studies, and for staff to find opportunities to step away from the stresses of their professional duties and participate in creative projects throughout the year. Members of the local community also perform in Concert Band, Big Band, Chorus, Cecilian Choir and Orchestra, from all walks of life; from teachers and lawyers to doctors and dentists, all find a warm welcome and a musical outlet at the University.

The tears flowed on Sunday, as students who are graduating from the University this summer saw their last concert coming to a close. But there’s a healthy camaraderie fostered amongst the University’s musical community that often sees graduates returning as alumni, both to attend concerts and also to come back and perform.

With thanks to everyone who has participated in music at Kent throughout this academic year, and good luck and best wishes to all who are graduating. We look forward to catching up with you all again next year, when the Colyer-Fergusson centre for Music Performance will welcome the resumption of music-making in the autumn. Watch this space…


Music for a Summer’s Day: Sunday 10 June

The annual Music Society concert, Music for a Summer’s Day, is now just ten days away, and it promises to be the usual roof-raising summation of both Summer Music next week, as well as of another fine year of music-making at the University.

Bringing together the University Concert Band, Chorus, Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir, the programme includes the finale of Mozart’s popular Clarinet Concerto, with Music Scholar Sarah Davies as soloist; there’ll be film music from the Concert Band, a choral medley from My Fair Lady from the Chorus, pieces from the Chamber Choir (we’re sworn to secrecy about one of them!), Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture from the Orchestra, plus some popular favourites from Johann Strauss and Elgar – and a few surprises as well. There’ll even be balloons…

The occasion will be capped by cream teas (included in the price of tickets) in a marquee overlooking the slopes towards the city, with commanding views of the Cathedral on what we hope will be a fine summer afternoon.

Details about all the events in Summer Music online here, plus details of tickets for the Sunday concert.

To whet your appetites, here’s the spritely Mozart: perfect for a summer’s day.

Lunchtime at the Labyrinth

We’ll be keeping a wary eye on the weather-forecast for Thursday 9 June, when Summer Music goes outdoors and onto the University Labyrinth for a free lunchtime concert.

A-maze-ing music-making...

After their sure-footed debut at St Peter’s Church last term, the newly-founded Sirocco Ensemble, conducted by Dan Harding, will perform Gounod’s vivacious Petite Symphonie, whilst the Brass Group will bring a selection of works for assorted-size brass ensemble.

Bring a picnic lunch to the Labyrinth behind Eliot College, and enjoy spectacular views over the city of Canterbury – and even more spectacular music-making!

Full details about all the events as part of Summer Music online here; Scholars’ Lunchtime Concert, Big Band Gala, two-choirs concert, Music Theatre production and the Music Society Summer Sunday concert: something for everyone!

(Apologies for the dreadful picture-caption pun: I couldn’t help it…)

Weather-permitting: please check the website and Twitter on the day!

Ave Maria and a Summer Sunday

Over on the choral blog, Cantus Firmus, the Chamber Choir and Cecilian Choir are preparing for their combined concert, Ave Maria, in just over two weeks’ time.

Event poster
Click to view

The concert, on Friday 8 June at St Mildred’s Church, Canterbury, sees a selection of works for single and double choir, in praise of the Virgin Mary.

Find out how they’re getting on here

Scholars to star in Gulbenkian Theatre lunchtime concert

As part of Summer Music this term, several of the University’s Music Scholars will be starring in a lunchtime concert on Wednesday 6 June at 1.10pm.

Flautist with the University Orchestra and second-year Historian, Kathryn Redgers, will perform Bach’s Flute Sonata in G minor BWV 1020 accompanied by yours truly on the harpsichord.

Second-year soprano Marina Ivanova will sing Vivaldi’s sublime cantata, Nulla in mundo pax sincera, accompanied by the University Camerata. Marina is a member of the University Chamber Choir and Chorus, and both Marina and Kathryn have previously performed in the Scholars’ Recital as part of the Canterbury Festival each year in October. In her spare time, Marina reads Economics and Spanish!


Making their solo performing debuts at the concert will be first-year harpist, Emma Murton, and first-year percussionist, Carina Evans on marimba, in solo instrumental works.

Admission is free.

Special guests to appear in Big Band Gala at the Gulbenkian

The University Big Band, conducted by Ian Swatman, will be joined by some very special guests when it returns to the Gulbenkian Theatre for its Gala evening  on Wednesday 6 June, at 7.30pm.

Appearing alongside the Big Band is British saxophonist Simon Bates, pianist Paul ‘Harry’ Harris, bassist with Jools Holland’s Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, Dave Swift and Mike Osborn (drums) in a rousing finale to the University’s musical year.

Kent's First Lady of Jazz: Ruby Mutlow

Conductor of the Big Band, Ian Swatman, is particularly excited about this year’s extravaganza. ‘’Simon Bates is regarded as one of the country’s finest saxophonists, and to have him appear with his own quartet is tremendous. All the players in their own right have illustrious careers; Dave Swift is in the middle of Jools Holland’s UK tour with the Jools Holland Rhythm & Blues Orchestra, and is fitting this date in especially amidst his tight schedule. Drummer Mike Osborn has become a regular and spectacular guest with the University Concert and Big Bands, and the combination of all these musicians, together with our own very talented singer Ruby Mutlow and all the University band musicians, is a very exciting prospect!’’

The event is part of the University’s Summer Music, a five-day festival of events both on campus and in Canterbury to celebrate the end of another year of music-making and the end of the academic year. The festival also includes the Music Scholars in a lunchtime concert at the Gulbenkian, the Sirocco Ensemble and Brass Group in a Lunchtime at the Labyrinth, Chamber and Cecilian Choirs at St Mildred’s Church, and the annual Music Society Sunday concert: including cream teas!

Details about all the events, as well as tickets for the Big Band Gala, online here.

More about saxophonist Simon Bates online here.

The Last Five Years: Music Theatre Society in action once again

Members of the University Music Theatre Society, not content with resting on their laurels after a tremendously successful spring production of ‘Into the Woods’ at the Whitstable Playhouse, are back once again this term with two events, the first of which is next week, ‘The Last Five Years.’

Production poster
Click to view

Jason Robert Brown`s emotionally powerful and intimate musical is about two New Yorkers in their twenties who fall in and out of love over the course of five years. The narrative follows Jamie’s story chronologically from start to finish, while seeing Cathy’s in reverse order; the two characters meet only once during the course of the show – at their wedding.

Director Lucie Nash, who’s also starring as Cathy in the performance, is very excited at the prospect. “”It’s a must-see for lovers of contemporary music or theatre everywhere,’’ she enthuses, ‘’a beautifully written musical with an unusual dramatic twist.’’’ Anyone who saw the Society’s production of ‘Into the Woods’ (reviewed in a previous article here) will remember Lucie’s scene-stealing appearance as the Baker’s Wife in the highly accomplished production of Sondheim’s musical last term.

Alongside Lucie as Jamie is the excellent Richard Simpson, a former member of the University Chamber Choir last seen in tremendous form as the Baker in ‘Into the Woods’ last term, whilst the musical direction is once again in the assured hands of conductor Adam Abo Henriksen, who also oversaw the musical side of the Sondheim at the Whitstable Playhouse.

The performances are on Wednesday 30th May, Thursday 31st May and Friday 1st June, all at 8pm, in Darwin Lecture Theatre 3, Darwin College, University of Kent, Canterbury.

Tickets are a mere £5, with all profits in support of the Dogs Trust; find out more on their Facebook page here.

There will be a final flourish from the entire Music Theatre Society on Saturday 9 June, when it returns to the Gulbenkian Theatre for ‘There’s No Business Like Show-Business!‘ as part of the University’s Summer Music celebrations (details online here), under the direction of Lisa Crowhurst. Catch them if you can!

Summer events diary now published online!

I’m delighted to say that details of our Summer Music events here at the University have just been published online.

Summer MusicTaking place from Wednesday 6 – Sunday 10 June,  Summer Music celebrates the end of the academic year with a rich feast of musical events, including a Scholars’ Lunchtime Concert; the annual Big Band Gala at the Gulbenkian; Lunchtime at the Labyrinth; a two-choirs choral concert at St Mildred’s, Canterbury; the Musical Theatre Society; and the traditional summer Music Society concert, complete with balloons and cream-teas!

Click here to view all that’s happening, as University Music provides a vibrant conclusion to another year of music-making.