With an heraldic fanfare, we’re delighted to say that our new What’s On season is now available to view online, with a mouth-watering programme of events to see you through to July.
As usual, we’ve performances in the majestic surroundings of Canterbury Cathedral with the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra in Tchaikovsky and Puccini for the annual Colyer-Fergusson concert, and the Chamber Choir and Ensemble will fill the Crypt with Fauré’s evocative Requiem in a new chamber edition. The Concert and Big Bands return in March with a dazzling evening of concert band classics and big band swing, and the Musical Theatre Society is back in action too. CantiaQuorum brings its usual eclectic and innovative approach to programming with a new series of concerts, and our popular Lunchtime Concert series ranges from the shores of Scotland to the heady sensuality of Argentinian tango.
A new collaboration with the School of Biosciences forms the backdrop to a concert bringing together live music with beautiful images from its cutting-edge research, which will also be exhibiting in the Colyer-Fergusson gallery throughout the spring term; and there’s a look ahead to warmer weather and seaside pleasures with events to come during our annual Summer Music Week festival in June.
Take a look at all these events and more on our online page here, and download the new season brochure here. We look forward to welcoming you through the doors of Colyer-Fergusson and to our performances elsewhere over the coming months!
Our resident ensemble, CantiaQuorum, returns to Colyer-Fergusson next week for the first of two concerts this term.
Next Wednesday’s lunchtime concert sees seven members of the group in a programme including Saint-Saens’ Septet in E flat major and Stravinsky’s Suite Italienne, in which Stravinsky returned to his ballet Pulcinella, which itself re-imagined music by Pergolesi.
Admission is free with suggested donation of £3; more details online here.
The termly Lunchtime Concert Series opens next month with a recital of Baroque recorder music by Naomi Okuda Wooderson, and a musical aperitif from our ensemble-in-residence, CantiaQuorum, of music by Saint-Saens, Stravinsky and Torelli prior to their evening concert; we launch our December seasonal music with A Baroque Christmas, including movements from Handel’s Messiah and Vivaldi’s Winter from the Cecilian Choir, String Sinfonia and soloists; the Christmas theme continues with a rare performance of Vaughan Williams’ The First Nowell by the Chorus and Orchestra, together with works by Sibelius and Shostokovich, and the term is rounded out with the now-customary Christmas Swing-along from the Big Band. There’s also an antidote to wintry blues from Kasai Masai as they bring the infectious rhythms and melodies of Congolese music for the final Lunchtime Concert, and the Musical Theatre Society will be inviting you to ‘Do a Little Duet’ with them too.
We welcome a host of visiting ensembles and musicians to Colyer-Fergusson throughout the term, including Trevor Pinnock as he brings Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and there are two events as part of this year’s Canterbury Festival; find out about all these and more online here– printed brochures will be arriving around the start of the term. Find out what’s in store…
An electrifying performance of the Bach Double Violin Concerto from Alexandra Reid and Kathy Shave and the musicians of CantiaQuorum was the centrepiece of a concert bursting with energy on Friday.
A rapturous ovation from an enthralled audience greeted an agile reading of Bach’s concerto that bristled with vigour – the enthusiasm shared between the soloists was reflected by the ensemble as a whole.
The evening opened with Handel’s Silete Venti, conducted by Alex Caldon, with Susanna Hurrell’s bright, spinning soprano a perfect foil for the supremely accomplished Ilid Jones on oboe; the performance deftly captured the wide range of both the drama and the melodic grace of the piece, delivered with stylish aplomb.
The second half alternated movements of Telemann’s Tafelmusik with Cage’s Living Room Music; gathered around a dining-table, various members of the ensemble took turns to wield chopsticks, cutlery and even children’s toys to realise Cage’s exploitation of household objects, at one point updating it to deploy iPhones and an iPad to reflect the twenty-first century – an energy-drive reading of a different kind.
A fantastic evening, with an ensemble of professional players in tip-top form.
Ahead of CantiaQuorum‘s concert next week, listen to Handel’s Silete Venti which will appear in the ensemble’s programme next Friday.
The wonderfully bustling fugato opening, depicting the wind scurrying through the branches, is interrupted at two and a half minutes into the opening sinfonia by the soprano, as she bids them ‘be silent.’
Just before the six-minute mark, the wonderful aria Dulcis amor shows Handel in sublime melodic form, as does Date serta, date flores (Give garlands, give flowers), starting at 13′ 09”, which later becomes dramatic and highy flamboyant for both soloist and ensemble alike, before the piece concludes with a sprightly Alleluia.
Soprano Susanna Hurrell (currently to be heard in the Royal Opera’s production of L’Ormindo) will be the soloist with CantiaQuorum next week; it promises to be wonderful opportunity to hear this astonishing piece performed live. Tickets and details here.
Our resident professional ensemble, CantiaQuorum, returns to Colyer-Fergusson in two weeks time with a programme of music based around your living-room.
Lurking at the heart of a fascinating programme that include Bach’s sumptuous Concerto for Two Violins in D minor and Telemann’s Tafelmusik Suite in D is Cage’s Living Room Music, written for an unspecified quartet that plays any object or architectural feature which can readily be found in a living-room. The second movement sees the performers turn to speech, using parts of ‘The World Is Round’ by Gertrude Stein, whilst the contrasting outer movements see household objects transformed into funky percussion – less ‘Uptown Funk’ than ‘At Home Funk.’
The concert also includes Bach’s wonderful Concerto for Two Violins; I’ll leave you with the achingly-beautiful second movement, performed here live at the Proms by Rachel Podger and Andrew Manze.
As the Devil danced away over the hill with Joseph the Soldier in tow at the end of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale on Friday night, our new resident ensemble, CantiaQuorum, danced into being at the end of its inaugural concert,
Formed from top-flight professional musicians based in Kent but often to be seen free-lancing with several London orchestras, Friday night’s concert combined Stravinsky’s morality play with a second half of Walton’s Facade, complete with guest narrators. Posy Walton grinned and guiled as the oily, preening Devil, as well as giving robust earthiness to Joseph in the Stravinsky, and clearly relished switching between characters.
The ensemble returns in February, this time with a programme of Baroque music.
Thanks to Matt Wilson for the photographs from the afternoon rehearsal.
This year, we are very excited to be launching our ensemble-in-residence, the exotically-named CantiaQuorum under the auspices of trumpeter and musician extraordinaire, Alex Caldon. With two concerts looming as part of the launch, I forced the frenetically-busy Alex into a small corner of the Gulbenkian Cafe at the sharp end of a croissant, and asked him about what’s in store…
Tell me about the name!
CantiaQuorum – The ensemble has its roots in Canterbury. I was keen that the tag for our ensemble should reflect the gravitas inspired by the city’s immense historical importance. From the late 2nd Century, Durovernum Cantiacorum was the civitas capital of Kent. The Roman settlement developed around AD43. A twist on the original Roman name for the city brought me to CantiaQuorum.
What’s the idea behind setting up the ensemble?
I have lived in East Kent for 10 years and worked as a professional musician in London throughout. As much as I love the commute (!?) and London (in some ways) I was desperate to show the denizens of Canterbury that, well, most of the wonderful musicians they travel to see in London orchestras, actually live in Kent! I am very proud to say that we have the very best of the capital’s musicians in our Canterbury ensemble. All of our members are orchestral players and soloists of the highest order. But not at the Proms, playing Rule Britannia, or on Saturday night telly backing Strictly hopefuls, but here, in the astonishing concert-hall right next door playing fantastic and fun programmes of great music. And they are yours to get to know and enjoy!
What makes this ensemble distinctive?
CQ has a unique make-up. They are all my friends. That’s essentially it. But, luckily for you I’m terribly choosey. And very lucky.
You’re launching your residency with Walton and Stravinsky, which looks exciting! Why that programme?
When I was 16, and at the Junior department of the Royal Academy of Music, a few friends and I decided to put on a concert! Facade with Posy Walton in fact. This concert, a sell-out at Lauderdale House in Highgate, London was formative in my outlook as a musician. We had a ball basically!..and lots of rehearsals. It’s a seriously tough piece! We were so intent on nailing Facade that it was literally an hour before the concert that we realised we needed another piece for the programme. Dan Bates, another friend of ours was doing a short programme of oboe pieces in the first half but there was definitely something lacking. Backstage with little time to discuss we decided to play an improvised work for the Facade ensemble. Infant became a 3-movement improvised work. We did it. And Facade was greatly appreciated!
As for the Stravinsky. I was lucky enough to play the Soldier’s Tale in a unique production at the Old Vic in 2006. The production was a joint effort between the Old Vic and the National Theatre of Bagdad!? And the text of the piece was presented in both Farsi and English. Hence, lots of rehearsal. And that before the director had decided that the musicians should play the entire work from memory! Totally incredibly. The conductor, Robin O’Neill, was thankfully fantastic, and extremely patient throughout.
It’s a wonderful piece, and I feel extremely qualified to say that. So do come along and be blown away by one of the great composers of all time.
CantiaQuorum bursts into life with a free lunchtime concert on Wednesday 5 November at 1.10pm, with the formal evening concert launching the ensemble on Friday 14 November; more details about both events here.
Because it does. Doesn't it ? Blogging about extra-curricular musical life at the University of Kent.