Was It Good For You: Jo Shave.

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Jo Shave.


Jo Shave
A cut above: Jo Shave

When were you at Kent ?

I was at Kent from 2006 – 2009.

What subject did you study ?

I studied English Language and Linguistics.

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

I’m currently taking a gap year to earn some extra pennies, before embarking on an MSc in Neuroscience, Language and Communication at University College London.

If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical experiences now ?

Sadly these days, my musical participation is limited to singing in my car and the occasional twang on my guitar. However, I still regularly attend concerts of all genres particularly recent University of Kent Chamber Choir concerts. It’s worthwhile listening from another angle, and particularly enjoyable to see the choir flourish in the years after you’ve gone.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

I was involved across most aspects of the Music Society. I was a fully fledged Chorus and Chamber Choir member from 2006 – 2009 and continued the position of Chamber Choir Librarian for two years too. In my third and final year, I conducted the group ‘Sing!’ which was extremely successful. It was a huge achievement for myself and the performers and a fantastic way to promote the joy of singing. I also participated in the female Barbershop at ArtsFest each year and due to my Music Lesson Scholarship I was given a wealth of additional opportunities to perform and promote how the Music Society was crucial to my University experience.

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

My University experience just wouldn’t have been the same without the Music Society. From that first Freshers Open evening I was hooked as everyone was so friendly and welcoming. Of course, the music itself was fantastic too. I relished the opportunities to perform in the Cathedral each year, and sing music I hadn’t sung before. In addition, touring to Paris with the Chamber Choir in April 2008 was a brilliant experience and opportunity. The Music Society certainly helped me to mature from a Fresher into a Graduate in a huge number of ways. Most importantly, I left University with a huge number of very close friends and it is wonderful to be able to stay in contact and meet up as regularly as possible. We often sit and sing tonnes of pieces from years gone by and reminisce about the ‘good old days’.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

Without doubt, my most memorable musical experience at Kent was the Chamber Choir 2008 tour to Paris. I was extremely lucky to be involved in such a rewarding experience, and the choir and company were fantastic. There have been so many other opportunites too, but Artsfest each year has to be one of the best events on earth! A whole day filled with musical activities is a dream come true! I especially loved the performance of the finale of Die Fleidermaus in the Eliot Hall in my final year; it was the best and only way to say goodbye to the best three years of music-making.

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

Get involved! One of the best ways to be a part of the Music Society is to join the Committee, so stand for election and go for a college rep, or if you’re feeling ambitious go for an Exec position like President or Secretary. Take full advantage of the opportunities you are given no matter what ability or instrument and enjoy yourselves to the full!


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!

New website goes live!

I’m delighted to report that, after months of development, modernisation of the department continues: the new Music Department website at the university has just gone live!

New website screenshot
Seeing the future: the new-look website.

Those of you familiar with the previous incarnation will, I hope, be pleased with the new site’s look and feel: it’s now more interactive, visually more engaging, and less page-scrolling is required to view content as it journeys down the page.

New features include embedded video and virtual brochures, with the possibility of additional enhanced features to reflect the Music Department itself as it heads into the next decade with the exciting new music building mentioned previously here on the blog. A new News and Links feature will allow us to keep visitors up-to-date with stories and events, and keep the site relevant with current content to keep readers coming back.

It still offers the same facilities as before, including the Concert Diary (now presented much more usefully) and down-loadable seasonal brochure, details about ArtsFest, plus all the music-making activities and ensembles with which to get involved.  Still under development is an attractive dynamic gallery, where photos from recent events will be published: a feature sorely missing from the previous site.

Combining the new website with the ‘Music Matters’ blog, you’ll be able to keep yourself informed about the latest in music at Kent like never before…

The new, sleeker and (hopefully) sexier website is here: view it for yourself!

Take me there…

ArtsFest is coming…

Saturday 12 June, 2010, from 1pm: get it in your diaries now!

The University’s end of year cultural celebrations on the Canterbury campus, with a host of sound-stages, music, dance, drama, an evening Prom Concert and events at the Gulbenkian Theatre. This year, the Gulbenkian is also the focus for family and children-friendly events and activities, and there’ll be the usual refreshments and wandering entertainment throughout the afternoon.

From capoeira demonstrations to stand-up comedy, drama presentations and dance to live music including rock, jazz and classical, there’ll be something for everyone. Local community and school groups will also be performing, and Rubber Biscuit – Kent’s hottest rhythmn and blues band – will be headlining on the main stage in the evening.

The evening will conclude with the traditional dazzling pyrotechnic wizardry of the firework display on the slopes overlooking the floodlit Cathedral.

A full list of the day’s event can be found on-line here. It’s going to be another cracker…

Was It Good For You: Rebecca de Verenne.

Continuing the series profiling muscial alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Rebecca de Verenne.


Rebecca de Verenne
Phat Choons: Rebecca de Verenne.

When were you at Kent ?


What subject did you study ?

Drama and Theatre Studies

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

Personal Assistant and Administrator with a Nursing/Residential Care Home Group for elderly clients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Also currently studying to be a Hypnotherapist (graduate May 2010) and Psychotherapist (graduate May 2012).

If music is not your profession, are you involved in any musical activities ?

I sing in the car on the way to work. Current imaginery collaborations include Florence and the Machine, Dizzee Rascal and Bloodgroup.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

Co-Founder of the Phat Ladies along with Heather Salisbury and Amy Smith, Chamber Choir 2001-2004, Summer Operas, University Chorus, Supported by the Music Department with a bursary in singing 2001-2004.

What did you gain from your musical experiences at Kent ?

More confidence, met lots of great people.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

Cartwheeling across the Gulbenkian stage in silver hot pants with three other girls posing as waitresses for Die Fledermaus. Also all the time I spent with my fellow five Phat Ladies both during performance and practice.


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!

Hand on Art: should the arts be a consideration in this election?

With voting in the election set to start in less that twenty four hours, time for one last guest post on ‘Election Views,’ as people make their final considerations before casting their vote.

Polling station
Time to get casting...

Is it important to consider the arts policies and attitudes of campaigning parties when deciding for whom to vote ? Should we rather be considering their views on employment, education, and frontline services ?

Click here to find out.

Waters under the bridge ? Not likely…

It must be the weather. Or the time of year. Or something to do with age. Hot on the heels of yesterday’s revelation about Led Zeppelin’s on-and-off-reunion tour being, well, maybe on: today it’s the turn of Roger Waters.

The Wall
Bricking it: The Wall

In what reads like a rather grouchy statement, Waters declares that David Gilmour, Pink Floyd’s guitarist from 1968, is ‘not interested’ in touring. With the thirtieth anniversary of The Wall coming up, Gilmour it seems has no desire to team up with Waters again, with whom hostilities have been maintained since the arguments over the album following The Wall’s release in 1982.

There was a brief cessation of hostilities in 2005 with the Live 8 concert, although Gilmour’s attempt to walk off-stage after the performance failed when Waters cajoled him into sharing a hug on-stage.

Still, one can but hope that other bands will also decide not to attempt to rekindle their former days of glory. There was nothing so depressing as watching super-group Cream at the Royal Albert Hall several years ago, and reflecting how much they had lost their youthful edge and committed drive. (They are still great, though).

So, the question (as with yesterday’s post) remains: should they or shouldn’t they ?

Bursting the balloon: Led Zeppelin to tour again?

Jason Bonham is keen for a Led Zeppelin tour, the papers reveal today, of potentially thirty dates.

Of course, such a tour (about which rumours have abounded since the band’s break-up in 1980) would have to overcome a couple of obstacles.  For starters, the death of drummer John Bonham in 1980 from Hendrix’s trademark death of choking on his own vomit.  Robert Plant has always expressed his lack of interest in re-forming the band, and even Jimmy Page’s manager has previously announced the band would never re-unite.

Houses of the Holy: album cover
House of the Holy (1973)

In 2007, the surviving band members re-united for a one-off performance in London’s O2 Arena with Jason Bonham taking over from his father on drums.

“There is still a lot of work to do on this project and I want to make sure it’s done tastefully,” Bonham said.

Led Zeppelin were ‘Best Live Band’ in the 2008 Mojo awards, some twenty-eight years after the band’s demise. Now that’s some accolade.

Let’s hope, if they do tour, they leave ‘The Crunge’ from1973’s Houses of the Holy well alone: my favourite, it should remain untouched.

So, come on: should they or shouldn’t they ?

A very good year:Jazz @ 5.

So, the Jazz @ 5 season has drawn to a close. Now into its second year, the regular Wednesday showcase for jazz-loving Scholars, staff and students has really found its dancing feet. Set up by Dan Harding when he started in 2008 as a foil for the large-scale music-making of the University Big Band (as well as a chance to indulge in his passion for small-scale jazz ensemble-playing), the series has flourished since taking its first tentative steps in October 2008 onto the Gulbenkian Theatre foyer stage. 

Dina Watten
Dina Jazz

The series this year has featured a dizzying array of singers from the ranks of staff and students alike: Jo Turner, Jo Pearsall, Sophie Meikle, Miriam Zekagh, Dina Watten (pictured), Amy Clarke, Crystal Cowban, Lizzie McIver, Alanya Holder: all have graced the stage. Even former Scholar and jazz pianist Chris Manley has hot-footed it up the hill from Canterbury after work in order to continue playing in the series. Music this year has ranged from Fairground Attraction to Radiohead, as well as the usual array of popular standards and show-tunes. 

The original ensemble has grown to feature a regular quintet: pianist and leader Dan Harding, the elastic improvisations of guitarist Andrew Kitchin (pictured), the robust solos of saxophonist Will Rathbone – now enhanced by the arrival of some solid bass-playing from Sophie Meikle and the rhythmic underpinning of drummer Jon Nicholls. 

Guitarist Andrew Kitchin
The Kitchin sink: Andrew on guitar

And these groups are like buses: you wait for one, and then two arrive at once. This year has seen the birth of the JA Cross Quartet: Scholarship pianist James Cross and drummer Mike Macdonald have teamed up with Andrew and Will to form a refreshingly exploratory group, embracing Monk and Coltrane in their sound. 

Many thanks to everyone who has participated this year and made it such a success. As mentioned in a previous post, we were even blogged about by LondonJazz blogspot: it doesn’t get much better than that! Well, maybe Downbeat magazine, perhaps… 

We also present an album of images from Jazz @ 5, courtesy of the creative photography of Mick Norman. Some of the performers will be appearing in the Marlowe Tent at ArtsFest on Saturday 12 June: details to follow. 

Mick’s images.

The lights on-stage have faded, the piano is closed, the microphone stands alone. The singers sang, and set the sun. For now…