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…

Alanya Holder is ‘Wrapping up Spring.’

Be My Guest: an occasional series featuring guest posts and contributions. This week, a look back over the musical events of the Spring term, the second article from second-year Law student and recently-elected President of the Music Society, Alanya Holder.

Wrapping Up Spring.

“Sometimes I forget I’m doing a Law Degree…”

When I first sat down and thought of everything musical that has happened over the last term I realised that if I talked about every single one in detail, this blog post would never end. So instead here is a whirlwind tour of the Spring term with the Music Society… 

University Chorus and Orchestra
University Chorus and Orchestra in Canterbury Cathedral: Photo: Robert Berry

January began with everyone complaining how much they had eaten over Christmas and how none of us at Chorus could make sense of the Szymanowski Stabat Mater. With the Cathedral Concert only a couple of months away, nerves set in immediately and adrenaline kept us all going until the day. However I must admit that by the day we had come to love the Szymanowski in a strange kind of way and I definitely loved the Poulenc Gloria. A fellow musician, Chris Gray has written a fantastic blog post all about the Cathedral concert day – one of the longest days of my life, but a fantastic one.

So a few weeks into term, not much going on – I know, let’s have a SOCIAL! The Music Society had a ‘blues’ themed social at the Orange Street Club. It was blues night at the club, and the Society all came dressed in blue – or as a Blues Brother in one case (good effort Andrew Bailey!) And as we all danced the night away, I was contemplating my first concert of the term – the Concert Band and Big Band annual concert in the Gulbenkian Theatre.

University Big Band
Good Times Roll! The University Big Band

The band concert is well known for being a night of fun and fantastic music, this year featuring the singing sensation Crystal Cowban! However while the concert all looks fantastic and sounds even better, few know of the hours and hours of preparation that go into it! In the weeks running up to the concert it’s a mad rush making sure that there are enough copies of all the music and trying to tie people down to saying if they are definitely performing so that a seating plan can be made! On the day instruments pile into a van and make their way to the theatre, chairs are stolen from seminar rooms because there just aren’t enough and generally everyone rushes around like a headless chicken until we sit down to rehearse in the afternoon. Similar goings-on after the concert make the day long and hard but definitely worth it – even if my clarinet playing skills are not something to shout about. [Not true! – Ed.].

Altogether now: Sing!

Something new for me this year was singing in ‘Sing!’ a student run choir that performed in the Gulbenkian Cafe as a warm-up act for the concert. We sang such greats as Lean on Me and a Disney Medley. More to come from ‘Sing!’ at ArtsFest and next year.

At the end of February (yes I’m only up to February!) I took the plunge and volunteered to sing at Dan Harding’s ‘Jazz at 5’ – a brilliant innovation which got me listening to some different kinds of music and gave me the opportunity to sing solo, something I haven’t done for over a year. I sang two songs by Fairground Attraction and Why don’t you do right by Peggy Lee. I’ve loved watching all my friends take part in Jazz at 5 and couldn’t have asked for a better experience in life when I got up there and did it for myself.

Two days after this was the Chamber Choir Crypt Concert. This was my first year in the Chamber Choir and it has been tonnes of fun! Amy Clarke has been a fantastic conductor this year and the Cathedral Crypt just made the evening so special. That evening truly was one of those nights that gives you a shiver down your spine as you’re doing something you love, with people you love in a place that you can’t help but love! Can’t wait for next year…

And finally to my last concert of the term – the Littlebourne Concert. This was a great opportunity for the Chamber Choir to have another chance to sing our repertoire in another location and for a good cause. We were also joined by the Cecilian Choir who sang Vivaldi’s Gloria. This was fantastic, a piece that is a personal favourite of mine.

And so the term comes to a close…I’ve sung, I’ve played, I’ve watched and I’ve organised. This term has been hectic and stressful but also wonderful. I’ve made some really good friends and been given new and amazing opportunities. I will never forget my time with the Music Society at Kent University – it has been my life this last term! I don’t think my parents will forget it either, as they have been at every single concert I’ve been involved in – dedication and a half!

Sometimes I forget I’m doing a Law Degree…

Was It Good For You: Hannah Widmann.

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Hannah Widmann.


 When were you at Kent ? 

Hannah Widmann
Still ahead: Hannah Widmann


What subject did you study ?   

BSc Psychology  

What occupation are you now engaged in ?  

I am still studying, and have changed fields only slightly. At the moment I’m busy doing research for my MSc thesis in London, my MSc is in Cognitive Science and Psycholinguistics at the University of Amsterdam.  

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

I am still an avid choral singer, and will sing in whatever group that will let me. Luckily, I found a nice chamber choir in Utrecht, not far from my new Dutch home, and have been singing with them for the past 1.5 years. Also, I find most of my friends this way, so gatherings have a tendency to go musical after a drink or two!  

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?  

I was a member of Chorus and Chamber Choir in all three years, and was lucky to receive a Music Lesson Scholarship for singing lessons. I, also sang in several smaller groups (Ladies’ Barbershop, madrigal groups), went to every single Music Society social, and was generally one of those people that you see involved at every concert (not always musically… but I can shake a bucket nicely!). I was also Secretary to the Music Society in 2007-08. I had a brilliant time!

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

Apart from making what I believe to be great music, I had the best time socially. I met most of my Kent friends through the Music Society, and am still in touch with lots of them. I lived with several “music geeks” in my final year, and sharing this hobby that filled most of our social calendars made it such a fun house to live in! I still use music and singing to kick-start my social life in a new place, and one of my first actions in Holland was to look for a decent chamber choir- it had been so central to my life at Kent! And yes, it worked. Choral people are just so likeminded.  

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?  

Oh, there were so many special moments, it’s very hard to pick just one. Musically, my final year in Chamber Choir and the (if I might say so myself) excellent performance at that year’s Crypt Concert spring to mind. The choir really gelled, and the knowledge that we’d go to Paris with this programme made us all work extra hard. It really was a fantastic night.  

A very corny moment, but surely another one of the highpoints of my time at Kent were the carol services in the Cathedral.  The candlelit procession through the Nave, while singing “Once in Royal David’s city” was always a very touching experience.  

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

Make the best of your time at university, and just enjoy the ride.  


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!

Let’s Get This Party started: Guest post on ‘Election Views.’

Hitting the campaign trail: 'Election Views'

 I’m delighted to have been invited to launch the University’s new ‘Election Views’ blog with its first post.

The new blog is kick-started by ‘Let’s Get This Party started,’ a look back at some of the Labour Party’s campaign music choices, whilst we all nervously wait for this season’s tunes-tastic selections to be announced.

There’ll be a follow-up post when all the musical choices have been announced.

Click here to read the post.