Exhibition celebrates the construction of Colyer-Fergusson

The gallery is currently hosting the exhibition of photographs charting the construction of Colyer-Fergusson, originally created as part of our five-year anniversary celebrations marking 2017-18 as the half-decade since we opened our doors at the end of 2012.

The exhibition, on display throughout the summer, is open during normal working hours, admission is free, and there is disabled access.

Strings on tour: String Sinfonia performing in CAST Gala concert

If you missed the String Sinfonia’s trip to Canada last month then fear not; here is the group performing Elgar’s Serenade for Strings as part of the Chinese Artists Society of Toronto’s Gala concert, directed by Floriane Peycelon.

The performance was the culmination of the ensemble’s five-day visit to Canada, which also saw them give a  Classical Connections concert at Toronto’s Varley Art Gallery, as part of the gallery’s recent exhibition.

With thanks to CAST Administrator, Lily Cheng, for the footage.

Fiercely committed playing: Tasmin Little opens StEdsFest

The newly-refurbished hall at St Edmund’s School bore witness last night to a bravura concert from violinist Tasmin Little and pianist Martin Roscoe, on the opening night of the school’s second summer festival.

The programme opened with a fiercely committed reading of Brahms’ Sonatensatz, alive to the drama of the turbulent opening, followed by a finely-crafted performance of Beethoven’s Sonata no.10 Op 96, in which both violinist and pianist were alert to every nuance. An exquisite rendition of Ravel’s Pièce en forme de Habanera opened the second half, which concluded with Franck’s epic Violin Sonata, an impassioned delivery, emotionally generous and brilliantly executed.

A riotous ovation from a packed, enthusiastic audience drew the performers back for two encores; a crafty Brahms Hungarian Dance full of wit and gypsy sass, and Salut d’amour by Elgar that brought a towering recital to a beautifully lyrical close. A terrific way to open this year’s St Edmund’s festival, which continues until 3 July.

Concert photos © Peter Cook / St Edmund’s School

Beach antics: Cellular Dynamics engages audiences at Beach Creative

The Herne Bay community is currently enjoying the evolving Cellular Dynamics project, as scientific research and live music combine in a two-week residency at Beach Creative, the community’s thriving arts centre

Saturday night saw a performance of music combined with live image- and video-projections by Deputy Head of the School of Biosciences, Dr Dan Lloyd, and Your Loyal Correspondent, set amidst the photographic exhibition accompanying the project, which has been on show since Tuesday and lasts until 1 July. The live piano works performed included John Cage’s hypnotic In A Landscape, the mesmerising Opening by Philip Glass, and pieces by Debussy and Tarik O’Regan, alongside hi-resolution spectroscopy and images drawn from the scientific environment.

The audience enjoyed pre-performance refreshments and a short introductory talk about the project at the University, before the performance. Uniquely amongst the various incarnations of the project which have previously taken place, this one saw both performers sat surrounded by the audience, creating a highly intimate atmosphere, with each piece prefaced by an informal Q&A session.

A display cabinet also presented functional peripherals from the research laboratory as objets d’art; another aspect of looking at the scientific landscape in a creative way.

The exhibition continues at Beach Creative until 1 July, and admission is free; Cellular Dynamics next appears as part of the Norwich Science Festival in October.

A chicken sandwich, a shoe emergency and a conductor’s baton: a day in the life of Hannah Ost

Recently, first-year Music Performance Scholar, Hannah Ost, had the opportunity to work as Music Assistant to Andrew Lippa at the Royal Festival Hall; here, she reflects on the hectic pace of life, the need for the right shoes, and working on The Little Princess


A few months ago, I saw an email advertising open auditions for Andrew Lippa and Brian Crawley’s musical A Little Princess. The auditions were for the main child leads and, needless to say, I was a little bit too old to go! However, there was contact information listed, so I decided to send an email to express my interest in the show and offer my assistance in any way possible. To my great surprise, I received an email back from the executive directors of the show, who had forwarded my email to Andrew’s full-time assistant. There were a couple of emails back and forth between us and about a week later I found myself sitting in my study, on a Skype call with Mr. Andrew Lippa himself (mildly freaking out, as he is my all-time favourite composer, but managing to keep calm and composed… if you’ll pardon the pun!) He talked to me about the possibility of my being his assistant; we went through the role, his expectations of me and what I should expect on rehearsal days.

So it came to be that on Friday lunchtime (25th June), I found myself carrying a chicken salad and diet coke to the Southbank Centre, to give to Mr Lippa, in a rehearsal for his musical, ‘A Little Princess’. I made notes during the Sitzprobe and formatted them to send in the evening. I got to listen to incredible singers, and musicians (from the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra) perform incredible music, being conducted by the incredible man who wrote it. We had dinner together and we talked a bit about me and my background, and also about his work and his life. He gave me some tips on making it in the industry, how to conduct a cast and orchestra and how the process of composing a full-length musical begins. It was a little surreal, considering Lippa’s music has been some of my favourites for years!

But Friday was nothing in comparison to the crazy day I had on Monday 28th…

9am – I arrived at Andrew’s hotel room, ready to head to the theatre. Helped him with his bags, got in a car and went through the Artist’s Door to the Royal Festival Hall at about 9:30.

10:30am – Technical rehearsal. I sat in the 2nd Violinist’s chair onstage and looked out at the 2,900 soon-to-be-filled seats, down at the performers, then back at Andrew, who was conducting the pianist and actors. Once again, surreal.

2:30pm – Dress rehearsal! I sat in the middle of the front row and watched the full thing. It was a fantastic opportunity and if anybody went to see the performance, you’ll know just how talented that cast was.

5pm – At roughly 5pm, we broke for dinner and Andrew went to get prepared for the show. All’s going well until I realise the showbiz after party is tonight and I’m going to be there. I look down at my £6 Primark plimsoles… I need shoes.

6pm – With an hour ’til house opens and Andrew getting ready in his dressing room, I walk 15 minutes to the Strand and frantically run around trying to find a cheap size 5 pair of heels. After spending 15 more minutes in a Next, I decide on a pair that fits and hurry back to the theatre.

6:55pm (5 minutes before house opens): I wait for the slowest lift in the world to come to my floor, shoot up to the stage and check everything is how it should be: Baton in place, scores organised, water bottles in position. I race back to the dressing room and get there on the dot of 7pm. Showbiz life: nailed.

7:25: Act One beginners call! I take my place in the stage right wing and page the curtain for Andrew, as he enters at 7:30, to begin the show…

From here, my job was essentially finished for a couple of hours. Besides paging the curtain, I was free to watch the show on the monitors and listen to the roar of the crowd after every number. I became a bit like a backstage helper, helping cast members find props, bringing cups of water to nervous performers, drawing the curtains after an exit/entrance. It was wonderful to see the smiles on the kids’ faces especially – when they came off stage after a big number!

At roughly 10:30, after packing up Andrew’s music, I joined him at the after-show party, where I was introduced to performers, press and agents alike. I shook hands with so many people I couldn’t even begin to count and exchanged details with a few too! Being in the presence of so many experienced industry professionals was amazing and I was happy to listen to them talk about their experiences working in musical theatre, television, film; I even spoke to some musical directors which made my heart leap just a little bit!

After that, myself and his full-time assistant, Matt Webster, got Andrew into a car back to his hotel, rejoined and stayed at the party ’til it ended at 11pm. I got the train home, albeit a little too tipsy for my own good, and hit the hay for a needed sleep.

So what does all of this mean for me?

Well, as someone whose life goal is to be a West End Musical Director, these two days gave me the opportunity to see how professional theatre comes together. I’ve worked in ‘Am-Dram’, but this was very different to that in a lot of ways. The main difference is the amount of people it takes to make a show. In the world of youth theatre schools, a sound 15 people will make up the backstage team. In professional theatre, there were at least that many people on the stage at any given moment, with another 30 backstage at least! You realise everybody has their own very specific job, which is of the utmost importance to them, but which others do not realise is happening. It is always non-stop and I barely sat down for two days… but that’s the exciting thing. There was always something to observe. I observed how to conduct an orchestra, two choirs and a full cast simultaneously. I observed how hierarchy works in the business. I observed how and how not to behave in the working world and it’s given me a brilliant new outlook to apply to my own endeavours at University.

Hannah rehearsing the ‘Pitch Project,’ an a cappella group she has formed at Kent this year

A lot of life lessons were learned in a very short space of time, but I am honoured to have worked for my favourite composer, on a fantastic production at the Royal Festival Hall. One of the best experiences of my life so far, for sure!

Bay watch: Cellular Dynamics at Beach Creative until 30 June

It’s installation day at Beach Creative, Herne Bay’s thriving arts centre, for the latest incarnation of the Cellular Dynamics project bringing live music and scientific research together.

The exhibition, featuring hi-resolution spectroscopy, goes behind the scenes of capturing scientific data in research from the University’s School of Biosciences, and is on display over the next two weeks. As part of the exhibition, there will be a unique, interactive performance of Cellular Dynamics on Saturday 23 June at 7pm, where the performers (Dans Lloyd and Harding) will make the audience a part of the unfolding performance, taking them into the collaborative nature of the project and the combination of live music for piano and live projection.

Pictured above, Rob Turner, one of the centre’s creative directors, hangs one of the images. The exhibition at Beach Creative is open until Saturday 30 June; find out more here.

Strings on tour!

Bon voyage to the members of the University String Sinfonia, whose members left Heathrow Airport early this morning on their way to Canada.

Comprising undergraduate students from across the university, including the Schools of Law, Psychology, Politics and International Relations and European and Culture and Languages, the group will be performing in a special event at the Varley Art Gallery (read more about that in a previous article here), and as part of the Chinese Artists Society of Toronoto’s annual Gala concert, alongside the CAST Philomusica and various soloists, in a packed gala programme.

We wish them well; follow all their adventures on #sinfoniaontour on Instagram at unikent_music and on Twitter; it promises to be an exciting trip!

Recognising outstanding contributions to University music: Music Prizes 2018

Towards the end of each academic year, the Music department takes the opportunity to recognise the outstanding contributions made by a few of those who have participated in music between September and June in an awards ceremony, held as part of Summer Music Week.

Left to right: Douglas Haycock, Lydia Cheng, Jasper Rose, Alice Baker, Charlotte Webb, Molly Richetta, Matthew Cooke

The Canterbury Festival Music Prize, awarded to a final-year student who has made an outstanding contribution to music, was awarded jointly to Lydia Cheng and Charlotte Webb. A final-year student reading Law, Lydia is a wonderfully talented violinist – indeed, she turned down music scholarships to both Berkeley and McGill to come to Kent! Such is her commitment and talent that she has lead the Symphony Orchestra for the last two years. She also plays in the String Sinfonia and has performed in chamber music lunchtime concerts. She is a Music Performance Scholar, studying with Floriane Peycelon and Kathy Shave, and has also been one of the Symphony Orchestra Assistants for the past two years. This year Lydia has been in great demand from other local orchestras to play in their concerts so has been an excellent ambassador for our music-making. Charlotte Webb is a final-year student reading Biomedical Science with a year abroad
Charlotte spent her third year in Canada and has certainly made the most of her final year back in Kent. She is a Music Performance Scholar, studying singing with Peter Cox, and sings in the University Chorus, Chamber Choir and Cecilian Choir. She has featured as soloist in many concerts, including our performances this year of Handel’s Messiah and Pergolesi’s Stabat Mater. And as well as all this, Charlotte has also played Principal Trumpet in the Symphony Orchestra this year, and acted as the Music Society Social Secretary, whose main role seems to be carting people off to K-Bar after rehearsals…

The students received their awards from Keith Mander, Chair of the Canterbury Festival and former Pro Vice Chancellor at the University.

The Colyer-Fergusson Music Prize, which is awarded in recognition of a student’s involvement in organising music at the University went to Alice Baker, a final-year student reading Wildlife Conservation. The award recognised her exceptional all-round behind-the-scenes organising and admin skills as the Chorus Manager this year – the issuing and returning of all the chorus members’ vocal scores for each major concert and liaising closely with the Music Department, no mean feat for a leviathan chorus numbering around 180 members! She is a Music Performance Scholar, studying singing with Juliet Schiemann, and sings in the University Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir, and the Lost Consort.

Alice was presented with her award by the Director of Music, Susan Wanless.

The University Music Prize is an award donated by Professor John Craven, a former Deputy Vice Chancellor at Kent, and is awarded to returning students who have made a major contribution to music throughout the year. This year, it was awarded jointly to Matthew Cooke and Molly Richetta. A second-year student studying French and Business Administration, Matt has certainly had a very busy year of music-making. He is the student conductor of the University Chamber Choir and was the musical director for the Musical Theatre Society’s production of Bonnie and Clyde in the Marlowe Studio. He also plays trumpet in the Concert Band and Big Band, and sings tenor in the University Chorus, Chamber Choir and Cecilian Choir. This year he has received a Music Performance Award to study singing with Peter Cox and was a soloist in both the December Choral Concert and in Messiah. In her second year studying Mathematics, Molly Richetta is a Music Performance Scholar and studies violin with Floriane Peycelon. She made the fatal mistake of telling us that she also plays viola (a rare breed!) so this year she has swapped between playing both instruments in the String Sinfonia, and has become a very accomplished leader of the viola section in the University Symphony Orchestra. Like Lydia, she has also been in great demand from other local orchestras to play in their concerts so has been an excellent ambassador for our music-making.

Both students were presented with their awards by  Professor April McMahon.

Finally, the David Humphreys Music Prize, which is awarded to a student who has made a particularly special music contribution, was awarded jointly to Douglas Haycock and Jasper Rose. A final -year student, reading Law, Douglas Haycock is a Music Performance Scholar, studying singing with Peter Cox, and sings in the University Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir and the Lost Consort. He has featured as soloist in many concerts, including the December Choral Concert and Messiah last term. He has just finished his year as President of the Music Society and also plays tenor saxophone in the Concert and Big Bands. It is particularly fitting that Doug is receiving this prize as he conducted the Chamber Choir in his second year and, thanks to the David Humphreys’ Music Fund, was able to go on a conducting course and have the opportunity to perform in Canterbury Cathedral’s crypt. Jasper Rose is a final-year reading Criminal Justice and Criminology on our Medway campus, and has played trombone in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and is a Music Performance Scholar, receiving lessons with Geoff Mason. He is a really exceptional player, leading the trombone section in Concert Band and taking the spotlight in many improvised solos in the Big Band. He has also been principal first trombone in the University Symphony Orchestra for the past three years.

Douglas and Jasper received their awards from David’s daughters, Josephine Humphreys and Belinda Howard.

The Music Awards Committee has a difficult job in deciding which candidates in particular to recognise with awards, and this year was especially challenging with so many involved in our music-making across the year; our thanks both to the award-winners, and to the wider community of University musicians, students, staff and alumni, who have given so much of their time and enthusiasm in rehearsing and performing this year. What will next year bring…