Tag Archives: alumni

Don’t Blake my heart: Kent alumnus back at the Gulbenkian

Last week, the all-male vocal group ‘Blake’ gigged at the University’s Gulbenkian Theatre, and featured one of Kent’s musical alumni in the line-up. Director of Music Susan Wanless sneaked into the back row to see how he’s getting on…

—-

One of the delights of being the Director of Music is to follow the subsequent careers of all our musical alumni when they leave Kent and go out into the big bad world. None has had a higher profile than tenor Humphrey Berney (E99). Having been a music scholar at Kent, conductor of the Chamber Choir and star of the summer operas, he went on the Royal Academy of Music and then worked with opera companies such as Glyndebourne and Garsington. In 2009 he joined the Classical BRIT awarding-winning group, Blake and now performs all over the world.

Last Wednesday, as part of the Canterbury Festival, Blake gave a concert here on campus. It was really great to see Humphrey again, and he was clearly delighted to back at his alma mater and the Gulbenkian Theatre, reminding the audience that the last time he appeared on its stage he had actually been hanged when he starred in The Beggar’s Opera! The concert was packed out and the group clearly appeals to all age groups … and particularly the ladies!

I confess that I thought that the programme would be too ‘cheesy’ for me, but I was swept away by the group’s consummate professionalism, musicianship and chemistry with the audience and loved every minute of it! They received a standing ovation at the end and were swamped by adoring fans in the foyer afterwards to sign programmes and CDs. As you can see, I did manage to catch up with him briefly, before he left Canterbury to head out to the Philippines tomorrow to continue his musical jet-setting career.

Was It Good For You: Yasmeena Daya

Presidential: Yasmeena Daya

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University. This week, former Music Society President Yasmeena Daya.

—-

When were you at Kent ?

I was at Kent from September 2007 through to June 2010.

What subject did you study ?

Joint Honours Film and Drama Studies.

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

I have just finished working as an intern for Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol (the 4th film in the series). For two and a half months, I worked with both the Locations and Publicity departments. It was such an unbelievable opportunity, I got to work with and meet so many amazing people and they were all so friendly that it was like belonging to a giant filmic family.

Straight afterwards, I landed another job working for a Publicity department, but this time at the Dubai International Film Festival 2010! This was a similarly incredible experience; I managed and handled several projects completely independently- it was stressful and scary but very rewarding.

Both opportunities were immensely enlightening and exciting- within the space of 3 months I had worked on a Paramount film set, walked my first red carpet, met and worked with legendary talent on a daily basis and attended a film festival awards ceremony!

A couple of weeks ago, I auditioned for a role in an upcoming play to be performed in Dubai. I was accepted into the cast and we are currently in the rehearsal process! The date has not been set yet but the performance should be sometime in February.

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

Since leaving University, I’m afraid I have not had the time. But I intend to get into contact with my Dubai-based singing teacher now that I am no longer working the mad hours that I was during M:I 4 and DIFF. I am also always on the look out to join any singing groups in the region and have signed myself up for one that will hopefully get started sometime soon.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

I was awarded the Music Lesson Scholarship for singing lessons for the three years that I studied at Kent. I also auditioned (and annually re-audiditoned!) for the Chamber Choir. I was lucky enough to go on tour to Paris with the Chamber Choir in my first year- a Chamber Choir year, and trip, that I will never forget. I was also involved in Chorus and in a couple of smaller concerts- lunchtime concerts, scholarship concerts and charity sing-songs. In my third year, I was voted in as Music Society President- a position I was very sad to have to give up at the end of the year!

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

I gained so much from my Kent music experience that I don’t know where to begin! I learnt a lot about myself, about how much I am actually capable of doing (a joint honours degree and a lot of extra-curricular musical activity can be immensely time consuming)! And, as a result of this, I learnt that I don’t like having nothing to do; I would rather be running to a rehearsal in the rain or getting ready for a concert in the Cathedral or organising a meeting about hoodies, than sitting around at home.

Of course, most importantly, I gained the ability to continue being musical alongside my undergraduate degree. I did not have to study music to continue singing, something that has been a part of my life since I was nine. I was so relieved to be able to carry on singing and to do so in such a friendly environment.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

It is really difficult to pick one. Besides singing at the annual Carol Service held in the beautifully candle-lit Canterbury Cathedral, my most memorable experience would have to be Chamber Choir. I would look forward to every Tuesday night when the Chamber Choir would meet in the awkwardly shaped OTE and rehearse. In fact, wherever and whenever the Chamber Choir would get together, it was always memorable- it is impossible to forget our hilarious and scrumptious picnics!

In addition to all of this, I can’t forget being part of the committee every year, and especially in my final year. It was such a great experience getting to know our amazing 09/10 committee and I especially loved working so closely with the fantastic 09/10 execs; Secretary Suzy and Dan ‘Troy’ The Treasurer.

What would you say to current musical students at the University ? (optional!)

Don’t think twice: just sign-up!

I was really late in auditioning for Chamber Choir and the Scholarship and, out of shyness, I only attended my first Chorus rehearsal because someone else went with me.

In retrospect, I can’t imagine missing out and studying at Kent without being a part of the Music Society. I made so many friends through Music Soc, people I’m still in touch with today, despite how far away Dubai is.

I’m really glad I overcame my initial shyness and just went for it, I guarantee I would have left Kent a much less confident, outgoing, and musical (!) person had I not.

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

Was It Good For You: Susannah Wharfe

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Susannah Wharfe.

—-

When were you at Kent ?

Lady Sings the Blues: Susannah Wharfe

I was at Kent from September 2008 – November 2009.

What subject did you study ?

I studied for a Masters in International Conflict Analysis.

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

Officially, as in my paid job, I work for a Social Mechanics Agency, called Kinship Networking.  We’re based in Shoreditch, London, and look at providing solutions for businesses using ‘socialness’.

Unofficially I have two other ‘jobs’ – helping run an up-and-coming theatre company called Pilotlight Theatre, as well as writing and recording my own music, and playing whenever I can.

(For note, I perform under my nickname, zanna wharfe)

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

I’m still heavily involved in music, but mostly from a personal, solo perspective.  I’m currently writing my own material, as well as helping out with backing tracks and covers for various little projects.  I’ve also got a MySpace page. I’m heading into the recording studio soon to start recording my own stuff, which is ridiculously exciting and nerve-wracking at the same time!   Fingers crossed in time it might be my primary profession!

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

I was an avid singer – singing with the Chamber Choir as well as regularly joining the team for the inaugural Jazz @ 5 sessions.

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

Singing at Kent reinvigorated my love of it.  I’d not realised how much I’d missed having music in my life till I was thrown back into the deep end and got involved again.  It also reminded me how exhilarating it is to stand up in front of people and bare your soul, so to speak.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

Singing at The Orange Street Music Club for our charity concert.

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

Just enjoy it.  As they’ll drill home to you, there’s no official music department, and that’s what makes it so exciting, and friendly!  If, in the long term, it’s really want you want to do, then do it.   Just keep practicing, keep performing, but know your strengths.  There’s a fine balance between realism and the dream world – and you have to keep one foot in each at all times; a tough, but ultimately fulfilling thing to do.

—-

f 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!

Was It Good For You: Robert Rumble.

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Robert Rumble.

—————-

 

Robert Rumble

When were you at Kent ?

2003-2006

What subject did you study ?

BA in History

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

Business Archivist – Marks & Spencer.

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

No, but I’m considering joining my local choral society.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

University Chorus 2003-2006, Choral Representative 2005-2006

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

It is certainly an excellent feature of my CV in the ‘hobbies and interests’ section.  I feel this has helped in job interviews.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

The 2005 & 2006 Colyer-Fergusson concerts (Verdi Requiem & Mozart).

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

Embrace and enjoy the Kent Music Society – I have nothing but happy memories from my time in the society.

—-

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!

Was It Good For You: Christiane Litman

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Christiane Litman.

—————-

Christiane Litman
Crossing the border: Christiane Litman

When were you at Kent ?

From Sept 2002 – July 2005

What subject did you study ?

BA (Hons) in English Culture and Language/ Comparative Literature.

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

Primary School Teacher (I was music coordinator in my previous school)

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

Yes, I sing in a church choir, a university chorus (Glyndwr in Wrexham, North Wales) and a professional chamber choir called Voices of the North. I also play the viola in the Chester Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, I help run the junior choristers in my church.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

I played the viola in the Orchestra, as well as in the Camerata during my degree. During my first year I was also part of a student-run string quartet.

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

It gave me a circle of friends which was unrelated to just my degree studies. Through my involvement in music I also met my husband in Canterbury during my first year. Having played in the orchestra, following my degree I joined the Maidstone Symphony Orchestra for a while and then rejoined the university orchestra for a couple of concerts before relocating to North Wales.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

Playing the children’s concerts with the Camerata- always great fun and the children’s faces when they came to “try out” at the end are unforgettable. Particularly their confusion when I explained that my instrument was not a violin!

What would you say to current musical students at the University ?
Have fun! And if you get the chance, also get involved in music outside of uni. There’s lots going on in Canterbury and the more you can do, the wider your experience is going to be.
—-

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!

Was It Good For You: Mick Norman.

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Mick Norman.

—————-

Mick Norman
Still pulling strings: Mick Norman

When were you at Kent ?

I started my studies at Kent in 2004 and graduated in 2007 but I’m still here…albeit as a member of staff! 

What subject did you study ?

Law 

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

I am currently working as the Faculty Learning Technologist for Social Sciences at the University of Kent…which in English means that I support Schools at the University using technology to enhance learning and teaching in the classroom and online.  It’s a complete departure from my degree but I absolutely love it! 

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

I’m currently a member of the University Symphony Orchestra, playing second violin, as well as performing with the University Camerata (Chamber Orchestra) and I occasionally play for local choirs when they require an orchestra. 

I also play electric violin in my band, Belleville (http://www.bellevillemusic.co.uk), and for my Church worship band. 

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

As well as playing for the University Symphony Orchestra and Camerata, I was also awarded a bursary which allowed me to continue having lessons with some excellent teachers. In my final year I was the Concert Assistant for the lunchtime concerts. 

I was also part of the Music Society committee for the duration of my studies, as joint Social Secretary for one year and Publicity Officer for my final year.  This involved helping to organise many musical events, including the Cathedral concerts and the first ever (and subsequent) ArtsFest! 

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

The wide range musical opportunities at Kent mean that music can become such a huge part of your life and your University experience as a whole.  Without the musical activities I took part in, my University experience would have been very different one so I think the most important thing I gained from my University music experience is an amazing three years at Kent that I will look back on with fond memories for the rest of my life. 

Has my University music experience helped me since leaving Kent?  Well, you could say that I haven’t really left, but in the spirit of the question I would say that my University music experience helps me every single day.  In fact, I have so many examples that I’m going to write a separate post for the Music Matters blog! 

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

I’m going to cheat and claim two most memorable moments, my first being  Verdi’s Requiem in Canterbury Cathedral which was an amazing experience and one I’ll never forget: Full Symphony Orchestra, off-stage trumpets high up in the organ loft, 200+ chorus and a bass drum taller than me!  The second is watching the fireworks display over the Cathedral with friends after the Prom concert at ArtsFest and then sitting on the grass between Rutherford and Eliot until the early hours of the morning. 

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

Get involved in everything you can!  You’ll make some great friends along the way and have memories you’ll be looking back on for years to come.

—-

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!