Tag Archives: Camerata

Without borders: Laura Osswald reflects

This year, the Music department is delighted to welcome Erasmus student, Laura Osswald, here for two terms as part of her studies in the School of Psychology. Here, Laura reflects on what music means for her and getting involved in the musical life of the University.


Music has always been a very important part of my life. I have been playing the recorder and the cello for 15 and 13 years respectively. In various orchestras and ensembles from Baroque to contemporary music, some of them international, I have experienced how music does not know any borders.

Making music together with others has always been a great pleasure for me – creating something amazing with people who share your passion is just wonderful. I started studying Psychology in Würzburg, Germany in April 2018 and since then I belong to the Academic Orchestra and a choir. I am very happy about that, not only because of the great music we make, but also because I have met so many nice people from different backgrounds, studying different subjects. Therefore, when I applied for Erasmus at the University of Kent, I was very glad to read about the Music Department with all its various possibilities.

During Welcome Week, I first got in touch with members of the Music Society and they were very friendly and welcoming from the start! In the following weeks, I joined the Symphony Orchestra and the Cecilian Choir, the String Sinfonia and the Pops Orchestra – I didn’t quite expect to be this involved with music at Kent, but I am more than happy about it and enjoy playing in these groups very much! In addition to the regular ensembles, there are some smaller formations for various occasions. Together with Jeni, a violist, I played a duet in the second Open Mic Night of the Music Society. Two weeks ago, I played in a concert in Calais with the University  Camerata which was a great experience and I feel very honoured that I was selected for this ensemble.

The second concert in Kent for me was the Nostalgia Night with the Cecilian Choir.

I am very excited for our next performance, the meditative Advent Breathing Space with Christmas carols and antiphons in a candlelit medieval church this Friday.

Even though you cannot study music on the University’s Canterbury campus, the Music Department offers an amazing variety of opportunities for students who want to get involved. It feels like all the different musicians and ensembles are part of one big family. I am very grateful to be part of that family.

Serenade across the sea: Camerata performs in the city of Calais

A standing ovation from over six hundred people greeted the end of yesterday’s concert by the University Camerata in L’Eglise de Notre Dame in the heart of the city of Calais.

The Camerata is a real cross-section of the University community, comprising undergraduate and postgradudate students, staff and alumni, all coming together to represent the University in public concerts throughout the year. Yesterday’s performance was the result of an invitation earlier this year by Calais city council to bring the two cities of Calais and Canterbury together, to recognise and celebrate the cities’ shared history (Calais was once part of the Diocese of Canterbury) and to make cultural connections (see previous post here).

An early morning start saw the coach-load of musicians leaving Colyer-Fergusson in various stages of wakefulness (well, 6.30am on a Sunday can be a little early for some…), with a welcome coffee at the Folkestone terminal of Le Shuttle enlivening the group further still on its way to an 11am (French time) rehearsal in the church beneath glorious November skies.

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Music by Elgar and Warlock was soon swirling around the nave of the magnificent church, with later on the strains of Marcello’s Oboe Concerto lifting into the roof courtesy of Professor Dan Lloyd, who joined the string group on oboe, stepping out of his busy schedule as Deputy Head of the School of Biosciences.The Camerata’s international make-up mirrors that of the wider University community, with members from Germany, Lithuania, France and Canada, including an Erasmus-student cellist; the Schools of Psychology, Law, Mathematics and Biosciences were also represented by the ensemble’s constituents, many of whom are either current or former University Music Performance Scholars. It’s a testament to the nature of extra-curricular music-making at Kent that it transcends boundaries – geographical, hierarchical, institutional – as it creates communities working together in rehearsal and performance.

The concert, part of the city’s current festival, drew over six hundred people to witness the power of collaborative creativity which lies at the heart of the University’s vision. We’re already looking forward to the second event in our planned collaboration later in the year.

Congratulations to all the performers, to leader Floriane Peycelon and conductor Susan Wanless, on a magnificent ambassadorial showcase that illustrated, to an international audience, what an international University can do.

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Facebook users can view an album of photos from the day here.

Allons-y! University Camerata visit to Calais is coming

Preparations are underway here at Colyer Towers for a special event next week, when the University Camerata will cross la Manche to give a concert at the l’Eglise de Notre-Dame in the city of Calais.

Featured in next month’s local magazine, Les Rêves de Notre-Dame, the event is first of several events throughout the current academic year which celebrates Canterbury’s historic links with the city; the string ensemble, comprising students, staff and alumni, will cross the Channel armed with a programme of music by Purcell, Warlock and Elgar, as well as  Marcello’s Oboe Concerto featuring the Deputy Head of the School of Biosciences, Dan Lloyd.

The Camerata last sailed in to port back in March for a performance of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf; we’re looking forward to presenting a largely English musical feast for the burghers of Calais at the end of next week, on Sunday 10 November; should you happen to be in the city at 3pm, the event is free, join University musicians as we celebrate our historic links with the French city-port – event details online here.

Concerts round-up: Chamber Choir at Wye and Peter and the Wolf

It was a busy weekend for the Music department; on Friday, the University Chamber Choir travelled out to perform at Wye Parish Church, at which the choir premiered three movements from Between Worlds by composer / violinist Anna Phoebe as part of an exhilarating programme.

And on Sunday afternoon, we were delighted to welcome back various alumni musicians as the University Camerata came together to perform Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, narrated by Senior Lecturer in Drama, Will Wollen.

(l-r): Familiar faces from yesteryear, alumni Charlotte Webb, Lydia Cheng, Cory Adams and Jasper Webb

Now to get on with the rest of this week…!

Feeling the Cold: lunchtime with Vivaldi and Purcell

The University Camerata and Cecilian Choir teamed up for yesterday’s final lunchtime concert of the term, with Vivaldi’s Winter and Purcell’s ‘Frost Scene’ from King Arthur.

University Camerata with Jeremy Ovenden

Soloist in the Vivaldi, Jeremy Ovenden brought out the brittle, biting aspect of the piece in a strong, confident reading, and the Camerata responded with suitable fragility in the sul ponticello passages.

Making her debut at the Gulbenkian, Music Scholar Paris Noble cast a bright flame as Cupid, scolding the Cold Genius (a welcome return for alumnus Piran Legg) and bringing on a chorus of Cold Revellers to warm them up and spread love throughout the arctic countryside.

In rehearsal: Piran Legg (bass), Paris Noble (soprano) with the Camerata and Cecilian Choir

The Cecilian Choir, looking suitably chilly in winter hats and coats (there had been a fire-alarm that morning, so the musicians ended up waiting outside the Theatre for a while – true method-acting, as one of the altos wryly observed), shambled on before casting aside their winter attire for a heroic closing chorus.

Pictured also is the fine harpischord brought in for the concert (Christmas truly came early for me this year), a Ruckers-Hemsch copy by Ian Tucker, based on an instrument from 1763, which had a soundboard decorated identically to one owned by Handel. Many thanks to Edmund Pickering for delivering and tuning the instrument.

Tucker, after Ruckers-Hemsch

Bravo to all involved: a concert to ‘warm’ the heart…

(Photos: Chris Gray.)

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Sponsors of the Lunchtime Concert series

Was It Good For You: Christiane Litman

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

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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!