French Connection: exchange student Juliette reflects on her term in the Music Department

In the autumn term, we welcome new faces to extra-curricular music-making here at Kent, and this year that included exchange student and trumpet-player from France, Juliette Brouzeng-Lacoustille. We were delighted to be able to provide an instrument for her to use, thanks to the generous Barry Wright Legacy, which supports overseas students who want to get involved in music; here, Juliette reflects on her time.

When I moved to England, I didn’t think I’d be able to pursue my passion: music. But thanks to the university’s music department, I was able to do it.

I was able to join the university Concert Band and its weekly rehearsals because the department provided me with a trumpet. It was a very rewarding experience that allowed me to share my passion with other students at the university, to meet new people and to blossom in the extra-curricular environment.

I would like to thank Sophie Meikle and Dan Harding, as well as the members of the university’s music department, without whom the pursuit of my passion would not have been possible.

Concert Band, conducted by Ian Swatman, performing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall on the opening night of our Wild Musical Revelry Weekend

Image Gallery: December concerts round-up

Our seasonal programme has brought the musical term to a richly-colourful conclusion, ending a busy term for the University’s extra-curricular music provision.

The Cecilian Choir, comprising staff, students and alumni, travelled to St Michael’s church, Hernhill, at the start of the month to sing a sequence of Advent plainsong and carols to usher in the festive season.

Our Wild Musical Revelry Weekend presented a pair of concerts exploring themes of myths and legend; the first evening with String Sinfonia, directed by Floriane Peycelon, and Concert Band with Ian Swatman:

Concert Band backstage before the second half

and the second evening with the University Orchestra, Chorus and soloists,

Chorus and Orchestra in rehearsal
Members of University Chorus deploying the selfie frame ahead of Saturday’s performance

The upper-voices chamber choir, Minerva Voices, sang as part of the University Carol Service in Canterbury Cathedral, conducted by second-year Wildlife Conservation student and Music Performance Scholar, Charlotte Farmer:

Minerva Voices, conducted by Charlotte Farmer, rehearsing in the Cathedral

and the term came to a rousing conclusion with the Big Band’s annual Christmas Swingalong, conducted again by the evergreen Ian Swatman sporting a Christmas Hull City jumper.

Up the Tigers! Ian Swatman gets in the festive mood ahead of the gig…

And making her debut with the big band was first-year singer, Tayo Fanifosi, whi delivered several crowd-pleasing festive numbers.

A fitting conclusion to an industrious term; with thanks to everyone who took part!

Scholars’ Spotlight: a profile of Rachel Fung

In her second year studying Law, Rachel Fung is a University Music Performance Scholar, singing in the Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir, Minerva Voices, playing the violin in String Sinfonia, and also singing in scholar lunchtime concerts. Here, Rachel reflects on her experience being involved in extra-curricular music, and the possibilities offered by the Music Scholarship she holds.

I entered the University when I was in Clearing, realising that the music-related Scholarship excited my vision to come to Kent. I’ve always been dreaming of being a lawyer, to uphold justice; I was born and raised in Hong King, where the social movements in 2014 and 2019 have been a major point for me to pursue a legal career.

I’ve been studying three music instruments since I was 3; being eligible for the Music Scholarship has definitely persuaded me to continue making music alongside my academic life. As I am a singing scholar, I’m involved in the choirs at Kent, and a singing lesson every two weeks. My uni life has been made more fruitful as I’ve got the opportunity to meet like-minded friends.

I like how the staff have been so supportive throughout the year, and very responsive. The facilities are very accessible and I really enjoyed myself coming to the Colyer-Fergusson Building! I enjoy music activities and was really grateful when I made many like-minded friends. The staff are really friendly and really hope for the best from you; I’ve definitely improved in terms of my singing abilities. The performance at the end of last year which I performed in is one of my fondest memories so far, it was also streamed online!

I’m hoping to enter the legal field, but apart from that, I’ve love to be a donor for the Music Performance Scholarship in the future, to continue this kind act. People really benefit from the scholarship, and I do think the scholarship improves the uni as a whole.

The Mystery of the Elements: new exhibition by Earthbound Women comes to Colyer-Fergusson

Wild Skies: Lucy Marks

This December, the weekend of 8th and 9th December programmes an exhilarating pair of concerts exploring witches, wizards, storms and spirits by the University Chorus, Symphony Orchestra, String Sinfonia and Concert Band.  The concerts are accompanied by an ancillary exhibition by the Kent-based art collective, Earthbound Women, exploring similar themes.

Coastal Erosion: Ruth McDonald

From Monday 31st October to Sunday 10th December, visitors to the Colyer-Fergusson gallery will be able to view a fascinating collection, entitled The Mysytery of the Elements, for which two Earthbound Women, Ruth McDonald and Kristiina Sandoe, and guest Lucy Marks will be exhibiting paintings and prints that relates to the dramatic programme of music exploring mythology, folklore and the world of witches.

Kristiina Sandoe

The artwork combines dramatic images of storm, drama at sea and wild skies with contrasting periods of calm reflection, aiming to push the boundaries of Landscape Art investigating what it means in relation to abstraction and representation, with a range of media from painting to mixed media, printmaking and collage.

Earthbound Women are bound by a passion for clay, earth, form and landscape. The painting, drawing and printmaking coming to the exhibition is a record of dreams, annotations, observations, aspirations as a series of artistic responses to life and landscape in the region.

The exhibition is free to view during the hours Colyer-Fergusson is open. Find out more about Earthbound Women here; and see the concerts on our What’s On page here. It promises to be quite a spectacle…

Dive into Moonbeam Theatre with Drama graduate Maddie Rigby

Currently on tour, and having recently performed at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Moonbeam Theatre features former Music Society Secretary and clarinettist in Orchestra and Concert Band, Madeleine Rigby (pictured below).  Maddie studied Drama and Theatre Studies at Kent, graduating in 2021 having been Music Society Secretary (as well as Social Secretary in her second year). Moonbeam Theatre is part of the Graduate Artist programme in the School of Arts’ Drama department; here, Maddie reflects on the purpose of the theatre company, being part of the Edinburgh Fringe festival, and their recently launched DIVE playlist on Spotify.

Moonbeam Theatre are a non-profit company who create multi-sensory theatre for children with profound and multiple learning disabilities and special educational needs. We’ve been a graduate theatre company at the University of Kent since 2020 and have been facilitating workshops and shows ever since. We’ve had a busy year this year, taking our show DIVE on tour. DIVE is a multi-sensory under-the-sea adventure which encourages our participants to get involved in exploring the ocean setting of the performance. We’ve visited over 50 SEN schools, charities and community groups and this summer made our Edinburgh Fringe Festival debut.

Being a part of EdFringe was a real bucket list achievement, and having sold out shows was amazing! The reviews we’ve received from all our audiences have been incredible and we are already planning our next show, which is all about  The Garden, to tour for 2024. As a University of Kent music department alumna, I am very pleased to say I even play my clarinet in the show! [Well done, Maddie: keep playing!]

But even more exciting is that we have just released the DIVE soundtrack on Spotify; as a company we wanted to make sure our audiences had access to the music so they could continue to experience DIVE in their own spaces or simply keep listening to the relaxing sounds of our ocean setting. To create the music we worked with our music producer, Adam Pattrick, who helped us put all our ideas together. The tracks were created to be ambient and calming, but watch out for the The Chatty Clam’s Hideout as that’s the exception!

You can find the album on Spotify here. ‘Ocean Waves’ is gently hypnotic, very relaxing, and perfect for listeners young and maybe not-so-young too…! There’s the lulling, echoing ‘The Seaweed Forest,’ or the joyous ‘Coral Cove,’ sure to get young toes wriggling. Moonbeam Theatre’s website is here, or see what they’re currently up to on Facebook here.

Some Kind of Calm: meditative piano recital Tues 10 October

As part of World Mental Health Day on Tuesday 10 October, Head of Music Performance Dan Harding will be giving a free lunchtime concert exploring tranquil piano repertoire aligned with scenic landscape photography.

Come and enjoy a break from it all, with a half-hour recital of meditative piano music, including works by Olafur Arnalds, Philip Glass, Chick Corea, Richard Rodney Bennett and Yumiko Morioka.

The live piano music will be accompanied by scenic image projections in a darkened concert-hall, opening up the opportunity to immerse yourself in some breathtaking music and photography for a meditative odyssey for the ear and the mind.

You can take a listen to some of the pieces which will be included in the recital on a dedicated playlist on Spotify here  which includes the beautiful Komorebi byYumiko Morioka, the title being a Japanese word describing the effect of sunlight filtered through trees.

Admission is free, more details online here: the recital starts at 1.10pm, all welcome to enjoy an immersive experience on the day.

Header image: Unsplash / Ann Savchenko

Circle of Remembrance: new album on Spotify features Kent alumna Aisha Bové

Fresh out on Bandcamp is a reflective album, The Circle of Remembrance, by singer-songwriter Jeska Onderwater, which also features the cello-playing of Kent alumna, Aisha Bové.

Aisha graduated in 2013 with a BA in English & American Literature and English Language and Linguistics, and played cello in the Symphony Orchestra, leading the section, as well as playing chamber music, whilst at Kent; she is also one of the founding members of the String Sinfonia. Aisha currently teaches English on the IB programme at L’Athénée de Luxembourg.

Aisha, pictured playing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall in 2013Aisha recently had the chance to record some backing cello sounds for Jeska, who originally came from the Netherlands but now lives and works in Luxembourg.

Jeska contacted her in March when she was looking for a cellist to add some final parts to her recordings. The album was recorded in different places, mixed and mastered in again other places, including Portugal and Luxembourg. Jeska and Aisha met up at Unison studios in Luxembourg to record the cello lines.

“She gave me a lot of freedom in deciding what I wanted to play,” recalls Aisha, “ and so I added some background sounds that went nicely with her singing, but also some solo parts. As her music is generally quite calm, I saw it as my main role to add that extra layer, almost like a cushion/ carpet. We recorded the four tracks in one afternoon.”

A gently meditative album, drenched in birdcalls and sounds of nature, Aisha’s cello provides a warm counterpoint to some filigree guitar and an intimate vocal line, playing as she does on tracks 6,7,8 and 11.

“The musical memories from Kent are some of the fondest ones I have, and I believe that the variety of music-making, from orchestra, to different ensembles and even busking in the streets of Canterbury have really helped me become the musician I am today.”

The String Sinfonia performing on campus in the summer of 2013

Take a reflective listen on Bandcamp here.

Generous gift to support extra-curricular music at the University: the Ed Tyler Fund for Flute Scholarships

Thanks to the generosity of a thoughtful donor, the Music department is incredibly grateful to receive a donation made in memory of the late alumna, Edwina Tyler, in support of extra-curricular music-making.

Known as Ed, she was a keen musician and flautist, reading German and French at Kent between 1970 -74, going on after further qualifications into a career in teaching in Worcestershire. Particularly fond of her years at Kent, she returned to visit from time to time, including the University’s 50th anniversary reunion events in 2015. In her memory, the substantial gift is given specifically to provide opportunities for flautists taking part in extra-curricular music at Kent, and will support annual instrumental lessons for an outstanding flute-playing Music Performance Scholar, as well as the Flute Choir and other opportunities for players alongside their course of studies.

Concert Band flautists backstage prior to performing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall

It’s a wonderful way to support the musical life of students during their time at Kent, and will allow a particularly gifted Music Performance Scholar to develop their performing experience. Much of our extra-curricular music-making is funded thanks to the generosity of donors and supporters, who recognise the value that taking part in music offers as part of student life; rehearsals, performances and scholarship lessons do so much to enhance the lives of musical students who come to the University, and want to continue their musical experience whilst they are studying all manner of subjects. This particular gift will allow us to offer plenty of practical opportunities, both to the E H Tyler Music Performance Scholar as well as to other flute-players, helping them to flourish musically whilst they are here.

The new Scholarship will be launched in September.