Congratulations to all the members of the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra on Saturday’s electrifying return to Canterbury Cathedral. For the first time since 2019, the annual Colyer-Fergusson concert resounded in the Cathedral Nave, and we were delighted to welcome back several alumni to take part.
Thank you also to our fantastic soloists: soprano Rachel Nicholls, mezzo Emma Stannard, and two Kent alumni, tenor Andrew Macnair and bass-baritone Piran Legg.
For the first time since 2019, the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra return to the magnificence of Canterbury Cathedral in March, for the annual Colyer-Fergusson Concert.
Named in honour of Sir James Colyer-Fergusson, the yearly event has been sorely missed; the Music department is very excited at the prospect of returning to the heart of the cathedral city once more this March, and to add to the occasion we’re looking forward to welcoming two alumni and former Music Scholars as soloists.
Haydn’s dramatic Nelson Mass, written in the shadow of Napoleon’s advancing army, will feature tenor Andrew Macnair and bass-baritone Piran Legg.
Andrew arrived at the University of Kent in 1987 to read Physics, and was a Music SCholars as well as President of Music Society and Chamber Music Society. Numerous concerts, several operas, eight years and a Ph.D. in Nuclear Magnetic Resonance later, he took up a career in singing after Kent, and has been singing with the Royal Opera Chorus, Covent Garden, since 2006.
Hailing from the seaside town of Whitstable, Piran studied History at Kent; he moved onto the Opera School at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. He has since performed extensively in opera
around the UK and abroad, working as a soloist with companies such as Wexford Festival Opera, Garsington Opera, Scottish Opera and the LSO.
Bringing together musicians amongst the University community of staff and students, as well as members of the local community and alumni, the concert in March will be something to remember, as we pass through the doors of the Cathedral for the first time in three years to fill the space with Haydn’s epic mass setting, coupled with the youthful vigour of Mendelssohn’s first symphony.
The University Cecilian Choir is preparing to take part in the centuries-old tradition of Choral Evensong next month, when it will sing the service at Canterbury Cathedral on Tuesday 15 February at 5.30pm.
Comprising students, staff and alumni, the choir will also be welcoming back a handful of former students from near and far to sing; as well as an in-person congregation, the service will also be livestreamed on the Cathedral’s YouTube channel for those who would like to watch online.
Amongst the repertoire will be the lovely anthem, Peace I Leave With You, by the American composer, Amy Beach. Join the Choir live or online in a few weeks’ time, as they sing evensong at the heart of the cathedral city in what promises to be a lovely occasion with singers past and present.
One of the pleasures of engaging digitally with people this past year has been catching up with various alumni and finding out how they have been creatively active at a time when creativity and the arts has been facing real challenges.
My guest earlier is no exception – former Music Scholar Lena Younes, who graduated in 2011 having read Drama and Theatre Studies and History at Kent, singing with the Chamber Choir and at the Jazz @ 5 sessions on the old Gulbenkian cafe stage.
Lena releases her first single, Hold Your Heart, at midnight tonight (or will have done, depending on when you read this…), and I took the opportunity to chat to her about her writing process, the challenges of remaining creative during the past year, and the influences on her music. Watch it online here – my thanks to Lena for taking part.
Many thanks to alumna and former Music Scholar, Steph Richardson, who joined me in the virtual studio this week for a live webchat about new fashion brand, Awkward Tiger.
Since graduating in 2014 having read Drama & Theatre Studies (many readers might remember her singing with the University Big Band and the Chamber Choir), Steph has recently been working at Farnham Maltings in Surrey, and over the past eighteen months decided to launch her own fashion brand.
In the webchat, Steph talks about the inspiration for the company, the ethical values embedded in it, her love for British Sewing Bee, and her imminent move to work at the National Theatre. Watch it here if you missed it…
The Virtual Music Project is in action again this festive season, as University students, staff, alumni and families are invited to contribute towards a series of carols being recorded this term.
Many thanks to Erasmus student and multi-instrumentalist and singer, Laura Osswald, seen here in suitably festive mood recording from her home in Germany;
To alumna from the School of Biosciences, alto Catriona Bradley, whose career in seamstressing has come in handy for her medieval-themed seasonal selfie:
And to Melody Brooks, former Music Performance Scholar and alumna from the School of Psychology, and Jeni Martin, alumna from the School of Economics, seen here recording string-parts from Hertford and Bedfordshire respectively.
The Virtual Music Project (see previous post here) is in full swing – adjective applicable if you’re thinking about the Duke Ellington, perhaps not quite so if you’re aware of the Vivaldi Gloria performance which we’re building…then again…!
We’re delighted to share the first fruits of the collaboration which brings together University students, staff, alumni and their families in a virtual rendition of the first movement of Vivaldi’s glowing choral work. Each track has been recorded individually by participants during the current lockdown period, ranging right across the country from Canterbury through London to Somerset, Bristol, Northamptonshire and even across Europe to Germany, Luxembourg and reaching even as far as Japan, proving the universality of music as a means of coming together.
The first movement is also available to listen in a project Playlist on SoundCloud, alongside some of the early mixes of instruments and strings only, and a brief excerpt from an early mix of the virtual Dance Orchestra’s building Duke Ellington’s Dont Get Around Much Anymore.
I’m hugely grateful to everyone involved in bringing this project to digital life, for their enthusiasm, commitment and for taking the time to learn and record their individual contributions; it really is a wonderful example of the University community doing what it is good at – coming together, supporting one another, and making remarkable things happen.
Now onto the second movement and a piece by Mozart…!
‘May you live in interesting times,’ runs the ancient saying. The second part, possibly lost in the mists of time since it was first uttered, may have been something along the lines of ‘and may you also have to adapt your working practices to cope with sudden, profound change.’ Maybe.