Feeling blue: Joni takes a pop at Bob Dylan.

Legendary Canadian songstress Joni Mitchell has had a pop at equally legendary musician Bob Dylan for being a fake.

As revealed in the media yesterday, Mitchell has declared Dylan ‘a plagiarist’ and says ‘Everything about Bob is a deception.’

Album cover: 'Blue'Of course, those who live in the glare of publicity always have an element of deception about them, creating a public persona behind which to shelter themselves from the media’s remorseless stare. As the great French poet Jean Cocteau famously declared, ‘I am a lie who always speaks the truth.’

Dylan, it seems, has been accused of plagiarism before, connected with his 2006 album Modern Times.

Both Mitchell and Dylan have changed their names, but obviously Mitchell did not take kindly to the comparison in her interview with the Los Angeles Times.

However, Mitchell also pours scorn on Madonna, whom, she says, marks a turning-point in American culture which has been ‘stupid and shallow since 1980.’ Bear in mind, however, that this was the decade that gave film Oliver Stone’s Platoon (1986),  and literature Tom Wolfe’s classic Bonfire of the Vanities, (1987), as well as the photography of Cindy Sherman, to name but a few redeeming cultural icons.

There was blood on Mitchell’s career tracks in the 1980s, when  her career took something of a dive after her success in the 70s: it was only with Night Ride Home in 1991 that her career surged back to critical acclaim. Perhaps that’s what it’s all about, really….

Although anyone who can list Court and Spark, The Hissing of Summer Lawns and Hejira amongst their back catalogue deserves our respect.

Was It Good For You: Jo Pearsall.

A series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Jo Pearsall. 

Jo Pearsall
On song: Jo Pearsall.


When were you at Kent ? 

1989 to 1992 to study – from 2002 as a member of staff  

 What subject did you study ? 


What occupation are you now engaged in ? 

Administrative Assistant, Central Secretariat, University of Kent  

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

Yes: I am a member of the University of Kent Symphony Orchestra, strategically placed at the back of the first violins.  I also sing with the Cecilian Choir, a small group of staff, students and alumni that’s a new venture this year, and I’ve also sung at Jazz @ 5.  I am a member of a chamber choir in Canterbury called Cantemus.  I also do other bits of singing and playing here and there. 

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ? 

I was President of the Music Society!  Actually I couldn’t begin to list all of the music that I was involved in whilst at Kent, even if my poor old memory could remember it all, but highlights were singing in summer opera projects, playing in the Symphony Orchestra, singing with the Chamber Choir including a particularly memorable trip to Prague, playing in the orchestra pit of The Pyjama Game at the Marlowe Theatre, playing for various other dramatic performances and singing at ad hoc occasions including in local churches and at high table dinners. 

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

A huge amount of experience both musically and organisationally that has stood me in good stead to this day and probably led to my getting my first proper job.  

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ? 

Probably having a small solo part in the opera Die Fledermaus in 1992 at the Gulbenkian Theatre.  A gorgeous dress was made specially for me to wear which was too exciting!  I have been mercilessly mocked about my “acting” skills ever since. 

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

Enjoy yourselves, take part in lots of musical activities and organise some too and remember that the friends that you are making whilst making music now are probably the ones you will still have in twenty years’ time, so make sure you look after each other. 


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

Building the future: music at Kent.

Exciting times for music at the University: in more ways than one.

Artist's impression of the new building hall
Artist's impression of the proposed building hall: courtesy Tim Ronalds Architects

The project for the new Colyer-Fergusson Centre for Music Performance is developing apace, in conjunction with the award-winning firm of Tim Ronalds Architects: we’ll be keeping you posted (literally) as to how the project is unfolding right here on ‘Music Matters,’ from clod to concert-hall.

The brochure for the new building is also now available, and I’m delighted to be able to present it here in what is a first for the Music Department: literature in an e-zine format.

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You’ve seen the future for music at Kent: in more ways than one…

Click here to download a copy of the brochure, or here to find out how to become involved in the project.

A feast at lunchtime: the concert series in review.

This year, the University presented another eclectic range of music in its annual Lunchtime Concert series, with enthusiastic audiences averaging around two hundred for each performance in the Gulbenkian Theatre.    

Mambo Jambo  – October   

Mambo Jambo!


The series was launched in style by Mambo Jambo, a two-piece group who between them played more instruments that you would have thought possible. Using all acoustic instruments and drawing on musical styles from around the world, their repertoire included music from Latin America, Africa, Brazil and bluegrass.   

The English Muse – November  

In contrast, the second concert explored Baroque music from Purcell to Handel with a trio of renowned early music performers: Terence Charleston (harpsichord), Anna Crookes (soprano) and Penelope Spencer (violin). The programme included Purcell’s Sound The Trumpet and a Handel cantata of outrageous musical inventiveness.  

Carnival of the Animals – November   

Charles Darwin
Seeing Double: Charles Darwin ?


The influence of the Darwin centenary celebrations was apparent in the last lunchtime concert of the Autumn term, a performance of Saint-Saens’ enduringly popular Carnival of the Animals by the University Camerata. Playing to a packed theatre, the ensemble featured musical staff of the University, ranging from a Deputy Vice-Chancellor to the Director of the Unit for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, as well as various visiting music teachers. The concert was a part of the University-wide Darwin celebrations, and even featured a guest appearance by Darwin himself, who bore a rather uncanny resemblence to the Drama department’s Dr. Olly Double…    

KD Jazz and Dance Orchestra – January
The New Year kicked off in lively manner with the KD Jazz and Dance Orchestra,
KD Jazz
KD Jazz & Dance Orchestra


which included several of the visiting Music Department staff. An enthusiastic audience were treated to a vivacious mixture of songs from the 1940’s to combat ‘Blue Monday’s’ blues. Saxophonist and singer Peter Cook didn’t allow himself to be incovenienced by a cold, as he had handily brought a megaphone for that authentic sound. Some solid support from sousaphone player Steve Wassall was matched by some light-footed improvisation from Ian Swatman. 

Gofannon Brass – March   

Gofannon Brass
Gofannon Brass


The concert series was brought to a close in heraldic fashion by Gofannon Brass,  founded by trumpeter and visiting teacher Alex Caldon. The five-piece ensemble comprises players from major London orchestras and West End theatre productions. The group is named after the ancient Celtic god of metal-workers who, with all the fine brass instruments on display, must surely have been delighted.  

As ever, our thanks to the firm of Furley Page Solicitors, who generously continue to sponsor the Lunchtime Concert series and allow the University to bring such an array of professional talent into the community. Furley page logo 

For further information about Furley Page Solicitors, visit their website here.

Was It Good For You: Adam Beaman

Continuing the series profiling muscial alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Adam Beaman.


Adam Beaman
Looking sharp: Adam Beaman

When were you at Kent ? 


What subject did you study ?


What occupation are you now engaged in ? 

 Auditor for a bookshop chain

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

Only when sat next to Sophie Meikle.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

I turned up to Orchestra most weeks, in fact twenty years later I am still sitting in the same place…

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

I got a lot of love and friendship.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

I still haven’t fully recovered from an experience in the OTE.

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



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

Out to grass: the Glastonbury 2010 line-up.

Glastonbury Festival
In-tents: the Glastonbury festival experience.

The lineup for this year’s Glastonbury Festival was announced yesterday: click here to see who’s hot and who’s not.

Of particular note: the grandiose, theatrical funk of George Clinton and Parliament / Funkadelic, the multi-track vocal trickery of Imogen Heap, the hard-bitten blues of Seasick Steve or the New Orleans pianistic skills of Dr. John.

Oh, and the legend that is Stevie Wonder.

Who’s your favourite this year ?

Culture Secretaries are like buses…

As usual, the arts have become a political football in the run-up to the election, with each party avowing its commitment to the arts and its funding in one way or another.

If, like me, you’re interested in the future of the arts, with its implications for which way you might be planning to vote next month, then this will be useful to you: Tom Service, music critic for ‘The Guardian‘ and broadcaster for Radio 3, recently interviewed on-air the Culture Secretary from each of the three main parties.

There is a concise summary of his interview on his blog here, plus a link to the programme which will be available on iPlayer until Saturday.

Interesting stuff…