Tag Archives: Canterbury

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

Summer Music Week details are here

With the current weather promising the arrival of summer, blue skies and summer sunshine this morning greets the arrival of our new Summer Music Week brochures, to much excitement here in Colyer-Fergusson.

Our annual festival bidding a fond musical farewell to another year of music-making at Kent takes place this year from Friday 1 to Saturday 9 June; as you see, there’s so much packed in to this year’s celebrations that we’ve had to expand it to Summer Music (Just Over A) Week.

This year, #summermusicweek kicks off the with the University Chamber Choir and Consort in the Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral on Friday 1 June in a concert including Pergolesi’s dramatic Stabat Mater; that weekend also sees the Big Band heading out for its customary trip to the seaside for a performance on the Deal Memorial Bandstand at 2.30pm on Sunday 3 June. There then ensues a week of musical mayhem, including a Music Scholars Lunchtime Recital, the String Sinfonia, the usual roof-raising gala for the Concert and Big Bands, the Cecilian Choir and Sinfonia performing in the spacious acoustic of St Mary of Charity in Faversham, and other chamber ensembles performing, all of which culminates in the traditional Saturday Gala concert featuring the Chorus, Orchestra and Chamber Choir followed by cream teas and tears of farewell.

Find out all that’s to come on the online What’s On here, or download the new brochure here. You can also follow the events and the build-up to Summer Music Week on @ukcsummermusic on Twitter; grab your straw boater and parasol, and join us in our last musical hurrah before the curtain falls on what has already been a terrific year of music-making.

A WonderVille time: new WonderVille Festival comes to Canterbury next month

A brand-new festival is set to burst to life in Canterbury next month, as Jubilee Farm in Elham Valley welcomes the WonderVille Festival.

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Saturday 30 July will see WonderVille bringing live music, including Tankus the Henge (fresh from their appearance on the Greenpeace Stage at Glastonbury last week),  as well as a host of craft activities, interactive workshops, a mouth-watering collection of Kentish independent food stalls, handcrafted local beer, a curious cocktail cabin and more. Kent’s literary festival, Wise Words, will be there too with its Bell Ten Village and Poetry stage, where you can encounter poetry, film, and lantern-making. There’s a family-feel too, with face-painting, games, head-dress-making and other activities for younger visitors at the Kids Corner, and a delectable array of sweets and treats for small and big kids alike! All set in a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Rhodes Minnis.

WonderVille line-up: click to view
WonderVille line-up: click to view

FInd out what’s happening at WonderVille here, or follow the build-up to the festival on their Twittter stream here. The very best of luck to Canterbury’s newest festival – prepare for a ‘wonderville’ time when it all takes place on 30th July!

Word Up! Canterbury’s literary and musical festival set to blossom next week

Words, music, poetry and song will echo around the stones of the historic cathedral city next week, at the opening weekend of Wise Words, Canterbury’s literary festival which blossoms anew each spring and autumn.

The festival encourages wonder and curiosity through new encounters with literature, the written, spoken and sung word, and this year features poet and Radio 3 presenter Ian McMillan, Olympic Poet Lemn Sissay, former Canterbury Laureate Patience Agbabi, current Canterbury Laureate John Siddique, and a host of writers, poets and spoken word performers.

Matthew Sharp
Matthew Sharp

The festival has a strong musical thread running throughout its nine days, which sees all manner of performers take to the stage in the yurt in Greyfriars’ Garden, including cellist and baritone Matthew Sharp’s voyage from Bach to Tavener by way of Piazzolla; there’s a return visit from rapper and musician Dizraeli,
bluegrass with Gentlemen of Few, and even Your Loyal Correspondent in a lunchtime performance on the opening day, Saturday 30 April, at 12.30pm, as accompanist in a recital with mezzo-soprano Michelle Harris, in a programme of operatic arias and musical theatre songs ranging from Handel and Bizet to Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hammerstein. The opening musical weekend is a partnership with City Sound Project, Canterbury’s metropolitan music festival taking place in venues across the Bank Holiday.

Lemn Sissay
Lemn Sissay

Poetry on the river; writing workshops and retreats; midday music each day; magic lantern parades and events for children and families expect the unexpected when Wise Words bursts to life in the city next week. The festival runs from Saturday 30 April to Sunday 8 May, find out more online here, or browse the digital programme online:

Wise Words 2016 logoand keep an eye out for printed programmes around Canterbury. It all starts next weekend…

Revolution, dreams, dance and desire: annual Colyer-Fergusson concert next week

The mightiest orchestra the University Music department has ever assembled will gather next week, as the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra come together for a revolutionary tale of dreams, dances, hallucinations and desire in Canterbury Cathedral on Saturday 5 March.

Under the incisive baton of Susan Wanless, the Orchestra will perform one of the most exciting, revolutionary pieces in the repertoire, Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, a story of hopeless passion, unrequited love and hallucinogenic visions, with its famous ball scene, the March to the Scaffold and terrifying final bacchanalian revelry of sorcerers and witches. In the immortal words of conductor Leonard Bernstein – ‘Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral.’

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Photo: Emma M during a lenthy tacet section for the harp

The second half of the concert brings in the University Chorus for a performance of Beethoven’s Mass in C, with four outstanding soloists Sally Silver, Kiri Parker and University alumni Andrew Macnair and Piran Legg.

Susan  Wanless is particularly excited at the prospect of unleashing Berlioz’s masterpiece in the Cathedral in the annual Colyer-Fergusson concert, always one of the highlights of the University year. ‘To present such spectacular pieces, complete with off-stage instruments and massive orchestral forces, will be thrilling for both the performers and audience alike!’

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Photo: Phoebe H when she should have been playing the clarinet…

The Orchestra has been hard at work industriously rehearsing for next week’s epic performance, and the concert promises to be an occasion not to be missed: tickets and details online here. Prepare to be led on a whirlwind of love, death and dance next week…

Then Comes The Day: Chamber Choir Crypt Concert this Friday

There’s no respite in the calendar of performing commitments; fresh from Saturday’s epic Colyer-Fergusson Concert, the University Chamber Choir returns to the Cathedral Crypt this coming Friday for an evocative programme, Then Comes The Day.

The title of the concert is taken from a line in the Hymn to the Virgin, ‘Darkest night / Then comes the day,’ which features in the concert, representing the triumph of optimism over despair in a programme that commemorates European countries involved in the First World War. Your Loyal Correspondent will be joined in conducting duties by fourth-year Music Scholar Emma Murton to fill the ancient and echoing spaces of the Cathedral Crypt with what promises to be a vividly expressive sequence of music.

Chamber_Choir_2014web_squareFrom the Renaissance austerity of Tallis’ Nine Tunes for Archbishop Parker’s Psalter through to the contemporary colours of Jussi Chydenius, Friday’s concert travels through England, France, Germany, Italy and Finland, and will include Schutz’ glorious Jauchzet den Herren, earthy part-songs by Lassus, Stanford’s purple-hued The Blue Bird and works by Purcell, JC Bach and Elgar. Second-year Music Scholar Anne Engels will join the Choir, performing pieces for solo flute including Debussy’s lissom Syrinx.

The concert starts at 7.30pm; more details and tickets here.

To whet your appetites, here’s Stanford’s The Blue Bird, sung by the Choir of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge.

Triumphant Verdi Requiem

From the infinite mystery of the opening bars to the dramatically hushed close, Saturday’s performance of Verdi’s Requiem by the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra for this year’s Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert was full of high drama.

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The morning shift crew

Standing in as a last-minute replacement for the billed soprano soloist, Rachel Nicholls took time out from her current ENO run of Die Meistersingers to step up alongside mezzo Carolyn Dobbins, tenor Gerard Schneider and bass Simon Thorpe, and together all four singers delivered Verdi’s demanding solo parts with consummate skill. Under the baton of Susan Wanless, the Chorus and Orchestra both rose to the occasion superbly. From the off-stage trumpets ranged high above in the organ-loft to the bass-drum positioned down the side-aisle, the combined forces filled the majestic Cathedral with Verdi’s profound meditation on death and redemption, rich in operatic detail crammed into oratorio form.

Rachel Nicholls, Carolyn Dobbins, Gerard Schneider, Simon Thorpe
Rachel Nicholls, Carolyn Dobbins, Gerard Schneider, Simon Thorpe

It’s a long day that starts at 9am with the heroic crew who pitched up on campus to load two vans with all the equipment to take down to the Cathedral, and ends with that same equipment delivered back to campus at 10.30pm, with rehearsal and performance in between. It was lovely to see many alumni come back to sing in the Chorus, with the concert a major highlight of the University’s 50th anniversary celebrations throughout this year.

Alumnus & percussionist, Carina Evans and tuba-player Chris Gray
Alumnus & percussionist, Carina Evans and tuba-player Chris Gray

(Much excitement was caused by the arrival of the 66-inch bass drum from Bell Percussion, which was mobbed by many people eager to be photographed with the monster-drum, you’d have thought it was a Hollywood Celebrity…)

Very many thanks to everyone involved; a triumphant conclusion to all the hard work put it by students, staff, alumni and members of the local community, who came together in the splendour of Canterbury Cathedral for a memorable performance.

Wolcum, Yule! Lost Consort opens seasonal musical calendar

The seasonal musical calendar was opened last Friday, as the University Lost Consort brought the ancient undercroft of the Pilgrim’s Hospital in Canterbury alive to the sound of Benjamin Britten.

The audience filled the historic space to bursting for a performance of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, in which the choir was joined by harpist and fourth-year student, Emma Murton, conducted by Dan Harding. First-year alto Ruth Webster captured the mournful air of the dissonant ‘That Yongë Childe,’ whilst third-year soprano, Gabriella Grandi, lulled the listener in ‘Balulalow.’ After the opening plainchant, ‘Hodie Christus natus est,’ had died away, the choir launched into a vibrant ‘Wolcum Yole!’ and moved through the lyrical ‘There is no rose’ through to the fierce ‘This Little Babe;’ the challenging ‘In Freezing Winter Night’ rose and fell in the hushed confines of the packed undercroft, before the evergreen ‘Spring Carol’ and the animated ‘Deo Gracias’ led into the reprise of the plainchant, and the piece dissolved amidst the ancient stone.

Credit to Emma for deftly delivering a tricky harp-part, and to the whole ensemble for a spirited and enthusiastic way in which to begin the Music department’s musical Christmas.

Photos © Matt Wilson / University of Kent