Jazz @ 5 gets LondonJazz blogged!

Jazz @ 5I”m delighted to announce that the most recent Jazz @ 5 has been reviewed on the LondonJazz blog, one of the top ten London blogs and a mecca for jazz-enthusiasts.

Run by Sebastian Scotney, the jazz critic for the Daily Telegraph, the review is penned by Adam Tait, and highlights the nature of what Jazz @ 5 is really all about. Click here to read the review.

Congratulations to everyone who has helped make Jazz @ 5 a success again this year: bring on the next one!

Curtain up: Get Fiddlin’!

Fiddler on the Roof poster

The University of Kent Music Theatre Society is preparing to raise the curtain on its production of Fiddler on the Roof from tomorrow at The Playhouse Theatre, Whitstable, directed by final-year English student, Laura Harrison. Including such well-loved hit songs such as ‘If I Were A Rich Man’ and ‘Far From The Home I Love,’ the annual productions by the University’s Music Theatre Society are always fantastically vibrant events, with superb sets and costumes.  Production Manager Tim Colegate is a second-year Drama student, whilst second-year English and American Studies student Katie Hogben is this year’s Costume Designer. 

Musical Director Elizabeth McIver, a final-year Music Scholar, soprano and Biosciences student, says the musical has always been close to her heart. “When I was about seven or eight years old, I saw the film version for the first time and I used to pretend I was Tevye and dance around like he does in’ If I Were A Rich Man.’ (Luckily our Tevye does a much better job than I did). 

“Our singers are full of enthusiasm and are so hard-working! I am so glad we have such a lovely venue in which to showcase their work. Our band is a mixture of UKC and Christchurch students, and it’s fantastic working with them all.” 

The first performance is on Thursday 1st March at 7.45pm, and the production runs until April 3, with a matinee at 2.30pm on the Saturday as well. 

Tickets are selling fast, appealing priced at  £10 (£5 for UKC and Christchurch students) and are available through the Playhouse Theatre website or from their Box Office on 01227 272042. 

It promises to be a fun-filled and exciting event: don’t miss it!

Travel information – the number 4 bus from Canterbury bus station leaves every 15mins on normal service, on Bank Holidays it runs a Sunday service so the buses leave only every 30mins. There is a bus stop directly outside the theatre, the advice is to push the button as you see either ‘Lucy’s Sandwich Bar’ on your left or ‘Deco 5’ on your right – or ask the driver!

Buy one, get one free: two choirs go to Littlebourne.

The good citizens of Littlebourne got more than they bargained for when they wrote to me last Autumn, inviting the Music Department to provide a concert for them. Last week, to their surprise, not one but two choirs arrived at St. Vincent’s Church, Littlebourne, for a concert of choral music. 

Chamber Choir
University of Kent Chamber Choir 2010

The evening was shared between the University’s Chamber Choir, who were returning for the second year running, and an ensemble new to the University, the Cecilian Choir. Directed with authority by third-year Drama student Amy Clarke, the Chamber Choir explored a varied repertoire, ranging  from Schütz’s eight-part German Magnificat for double choir, and Bruckner’s Os Iusti to the wonderfully luminous Lux Aurumque by Whitacre, featuring some ethereal top notes from the sopranos. Tučapský’s Five Lenten Motets brought a suitably seasonal feel to the concert, and the concert ended with a lyrical rendition of Vaughan Williams’ folk-song settings. 

Cecilian Choir logoThe occasion was also the inaugural concert for the University’s Cecilian Choir, founded back in November as an opportunity for students, staff and alumni to make music on a smaller scale as a companion to the University Chorus. The group is a fine example of the nature of music-making across the university community observed in a previous post.  Directed by Dan Harding, they gave a spirited performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria, with a profound exploration of the dissonances of the second movement, Et in terra pax hominibus. There was also high drama in the Domine Deus, Rex coelestis which pitches a solo voice against a beseeching chorus. Soloists were drawn from students and staff alike. The choir also sang two short but colourful motets by Howard Skempton, who is fast becoming a favourite of the University concert programmes. 

St. Vincent’s Church has a window in the south aisle dedicated to St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, after whom the Cecilian Choir is named, and it was a fitting place for the choir in which to make their debut performance. The saint would have been delighted to hear the music of both choirs, we hope. 

Congratulations to all the musical staff, students and alumni who took part. I wonder how many choirs will turn up next year ?

The programme for the entire concert can be viewed here.

Was It Good For You: Tom Millinchip.

A series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Tom Millinchip.


When were you at Kent?
I was at Kent from 2004-2008.

Tom Millinchip
Society Man: Tom Millinchip

What subject did you study ?
I studied French.

What occupation are you now engaged in ?
Currently working for Majestic Wine in Chester but going to Christchurch to do a PGCE in September.

If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical experiences now ?
Where possible I try and keep up with my singing and am part of a local chorus and Church choir.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?
I was a member of the Chamber Choir, Chorus, Concert Band and Big Band and was Secretary of the Music Society in my second year.

What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent ?
Having come from a musical family, music is in my blood but I didn’t expect to be heavily involved with anything when I first started at Kent.  This however changed as soon as I realised how welcoming and rich music-making at the University was.  My experiences and friends made through performing and socialising were/are invaluable and will be with me for the rest of my life.  Music is an exciting hobby and is a perfect way of getting to know knew people and learn new skills.  In terms of helping since I’ve left, I now have the confidence to join new groups and choirs where possible and working as part of the Committee in the Music Society has helped with my administration and leadership skills.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?
There have been so many, ranging from being involved in the first ever ArtsFest to performing in such a prestigious venue as Canterbury Cathedral.  The main highlight for me however was helping to organise and then going on the Chamber Choir tour to Paris in my final year.  Not only was the choir that year top notch (if I say so myself) but we were lucky enough to sing in La Madeleine and an English Church near the Champs-Elysées.  The experiences and company were unforgettable.

What would you say to current musical students at the University ?
I would say to them that they should just get stuck in no matter what instrument or what level of ability.  Being involved in such a large society and department will provide unrivalled experience and enjoyment and everyone should make the most of the opportunities that they are presented with.


If you’re a musical alumnus and would like to be featured, get in touch via the Music Department website: we’d love to hear from you!

Music from a farther room: the Eliot College Soirée

Eliot College Soiree
(l-r);Sarah Davies, Maddie Harris, Dan Wheeler, Kate Lumley, Dan Pargeter, Alice Godwin, Vici Hemming, Lizzie McIver, Lucy White, Nicola Ingram, Esra Yazar, Amy Clarke, Lena Younes, Ben Tomlin, Chis Gray; foreground: Dr. Michael Hughes, Dan Harding. (Missing from the photo is oboist Dr. Dan Lloyd, whom we think was at the bar by this time...!).

From the sweeping grandeur of Canterbury Cathedral to the intimacy of Eliot College in just five days: music at the University gets everywhere.  

The soirée musicale last Thursday in Eliot Senior Common Room saw a packed audience of staff, students and guests entertained by Scholars and musical staff and students in an evening of French music. Repertoire ranged from the high-art chansons of Fauré and Saint-Saëns via the tenderness of Poulenc’s Sonata for Oboe,  an Italian evening on the Grand Canal in Belle Nuit (Barcarolle) from Offenbach, to the contemporary, gutsy blues of Regarde les Riches. The University Clarinet Quartet tripped deftly through Chaminade’s Danse Créole, whilst other woodwind duets featured players, who had the week before filled the Cathedral, in works by Fauré, Poulenc and Bizet.  

An eight-part vocal consort drew the performance to a close with a traditional French folk-song arrangement, and also let in the only imposter of the evening, Morten Lauridsen, with his setting of En Une Seule Fleur. Well, fair enough: Lauridsen is a rising star of the American choral scene, but it was a setting of a poem by Rilke, and it is something of a showpiece for singers as well, so it was allowed. (So there.) 

The enthusiastic audience included many donors and benefactors who support the University’s Music Scholarships as well as all its music-making, and this was a great opportunity to thank them for their continuing support.  

Thank you to Michael Hughes, Master of Eliot College, for the invitation to perform, and to Meredith Johnson, the Master’s Assistant, for co-ordinating the lavish buffet which followed to the delight of all, especially these three ladies…  

Sometimes the food is just too tempting...
Sometimes the buffet is just too tempting...

A Day In The Life: Chris Gray

An occasional series featuring guest posts and contributions. 


This post comes from Music Scholar and first-year  Architecture student, Chris Gray. Chris plays tuba in the University Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band, and sings bass with the Chamber Choir and the Cecilian Choir.  Chris has previously been Principal Tuba with the Wessex Youth Orchestra for three years, and lives in Poole in Dorset.  He recently played in the University’s Colyer-Fergusson Concert in Canterbury Cathedral. 

Chris Gray
Top brass: Chris Gray.


Bleurgh. 9am. Is all this really worth it? 

Saturday 13th March. Eliot College music store room. Day of the Cathedral Concert. 

I guess this was it, the start of a long day, culminating, hopefully, in a wondrous concert. That last sentence is tinged with doubt, not because I have no faith in my fellow musicians, but because on the day of a big concert like this, doubts do start creeping up into your mind about your own musical ability, and being a tuba player, you have good reason to!  Hitting the top A in the Strauss, playing the octave jumps in the Poulenc…. 

I started off the day doing what I am useful for, moving heavy percussion. We successfully threaded the timpani through a tightly-packed store room and through the bowels of Eliot College. I took great delight in marching with the bass drum, banging it loudly informing the residents of Eliot College of my impending heroics lifting timpani into the idling van outside…. more like trying to wake everyone up to let them share the beautiful crisp spring morning with me and the other musicians up at this torrid hour. 

A very nervous journey in the percussion van from campus to the Cathedral ensued with glances back at the precious cargo every time we heard a bang or crash. We arrived in the Cathedral Precincts and proceeded to unload the van, carrying the percussion down a small make-shift corridor, through the South door and into the Nave. 

The Cathedral was already a hive of activity with vergers, members of the chorus and various students and staff from the University milling around tending to their jobs. Once we had located and set up the timps, we started on the chairs for the orchestra under the expert guidance of Sophie and Dan Wheeler. I had heard that fitting the orchestra in between the towering columns of the Nave was a difficult job with no room for error. 

We started with the timpani, then the woodwind making sure that the principals of the woodwind section were directly in front of the podium….. one of Sophie’s pet hates. Then the brass in two rows so the lower brass could deafen the trumpets who in turn could inflict ear-splitting terror on the violas. The strings worked out nicely and with the podium for the conductor and soloists in the correct place, in accordance with Health & Safety providing a 1.4m gap around all obstacles, it was done. I stepped back…. plenty of room, don’t know what the fuss was about!! 

Then I saw where I would be sitting….. 

Words cannot describe the predicament I would be in. Stuck behind a pillar, wedged between a desk of the double basses and the timpani, I dreaded the moment when ‘the listener is catapulted headlong into a torrid allegro’…. (Sue’s programme notes). I thought I would never get the downbeat in the right place…. What if I came in a bar early….? 

Then the long and arduous process of seating the chorus took place. To liken it to a familiar occurrence would be like watching the start of the London Marathon, yet the athletes were tethered down and then when they did break free of their reigns, they would be running on treacle… 

Rehearsals started dead-on 11.15am…. yeah right, on days like this you can bet your house that they don’t, it’s something about a large group of chattering people in a confined space that seems to make you lose track of time. 

Rehearsals began with the Szymanowski, so time for coffee for the lower brass players or in my case a lovely white Malteser milkshake! One thing I noticed whilst watching the rehearsals, was the length of acoustic in the cathedral. 3 seconds! How we would pull of the Strauss or the delicacy of the Poulenc was beyond me, but somehow in this setting, the pieces seemed to fit and gel with the architecture of the building. Good choice of programme, I’d say! 

Then came my moment of glory, my incredibly important part in the Poulenc, all 33 bars of it! I do like the piece, I just find it hard to look past the part I’m playing and listen to the overall work, listening to it, here, now, in the comfort of my own room you can appreciate the ‘juxtaposing of thematic cells’… (Sue’s programme notes again). 

Poulenc done. 15 minutes for lunch…. yes I know, that is how committed we musicians are! 

Onto the Strauss which does have a very nice tuba part. I enjoyed playing this, although the droves of Cathedral visitors milling around during rehearsal not only annoyed Sue but most of the orchestra as well. Nothing like the musical setting of the transfiguration of a dying artist to the backdrop of chattering schoolchildren. Strauss almost done, but no, we need to rehearse the last 6 bars over and over to try and kill the brass… Then onto the Ravel (sorry not much to say about this, I went outside). 

2.15 came, relaxed for the rest of the day. DJ – check. Time to go!!! 

7.30 concert time. Well not for me, I watched from the sideline as Ravel and Szymanowski didn’t want me in their music. It was interesting to watch people prepare for the concert the inexperienced paced… the experienced laughed and joked about the inexperienced. First half finished after amazing performances from orchestra, choir and soloists. 

Then came the second half and it was time to play some Strauss. I kept fiddling with my bowtie, asking people if it looked right or not, but in the end it didn’t matter because I was sat behind a pillar! The Strauss went well, and it was amazing to be part of such a large orchestra, now, after weeks of rehearsals, playing as such a coherent group of musicians as one huge music making machine churning out bar after bar of absolute perfection. Sorry, got carried away in the music there… it happens. Then the Poulenc, the wonderful individuality of this underrated French composer coupled with the skills of Sue bringing chorus, orchestra and soloist into a blazing finale. Blazing finale meaning fading away into nothing! 

The audience loved it, the Cathedral had been filled with vocalists and instrumentalists alike, and we did ourselves proud. On the drive back to campus from the Cathedral, I asked myself the same question that I asked myself that morning, some 13.5 hours ago… 

Was it worth it? 

Oh yes.. most definitely.

Was It Good For You: Gerard Collett

Gerard Collett
Hitting the right notes: Gerard Collett. Photo: Aubrey Kurlansky.

Beginning a new series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, we feature Gerard Collett, who recently returned as a soloist in the annual Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert earlier this month. 


When were you at Kent ? 

I studied at Kent from 2001 to 2004.   

What subject did you study ? 

I took a combined degree in Philosophy and History and Theory of Art.   

What occupation are you now engaged in ? 

I am an opera singer.   

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?  

I conducted the University Chamber Choir, and sang in the University Chorus, and also sang in the Summer Opera Projects.   

What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent ?  

The value of working as part of a company, whether it was the Chamber Choir or Chorus, or as part of the Music Society in general, and the shared sense of satisfaction of a job well done are lessons I gained from my time at the university.  There is no better or more beneficial contrast for a student who must sit in front of a computer or in the library writing essays, than to make music with other students and lecturers, usually from different disciplines.  Music is a great leveller – we are all created equally, and so can be equally creative.  I strongly believe that.  It can also be great fun!   

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ? 

 I couldn’t pick one, but my most memorable and happy musical experiences were rehearsing for the opera productions.  I think there is something special about the Kentish Summer, there was a real end-of-year-joy in our summer productions.  A close second would be a well deserved beer in Simple Simons’ – (now ‘The Parrot’)… which is a musical experience of sorts…   

What would you say to current musical students at the University? 

 To current musical students I would definitely say, 


If you’re an alumni and would like to be featured, get in touch via the Music Department website: we’d love to hear from you!

Announcing the new Friday Feature

This Friday sees ‘Music Matters’ launch its new series profiling musical alumni from the University of Kent.

Musical students
Making music.

Each week will feature an interview with former students who were involved in music-making at the University, from soloists to orchestral-players, Chamber Choir members and conductors, and Music Society committee members.

It promises to be an exciting odyssey, and a chance to visit some old friends.

Make sure your RSS feeders are primed to deliver them direct to your desktop by clicking on the blue feed-link at the top of your screen!