Tag Archives: Carol Service

Old and New and the Carol Service: University music in action

Two events in three days with which to catch up, Loyal Readers!

Last Saturday brought the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra together in a programme combining music from the past with reimaginings from a modern perspective: Vivaldi’s dramatic iMagnificat, two of Handel’s bombastic Coronation Anthems, Walton’s recasting of Bach in The Wise Virgins, Matthew King’s orchestral vision of Mozart’s piece for mechanical organ, and Respighi’s light-footed Ancient Airs and Dances Suite no.2.

The University Chorus and Orchestra in rehearsal during the afternoon

Director of Music Susan Wanless wielded the baton in front of the assembled masses to a packed house, and it was lovely to welcome back some familiar faces and musical alumni to take part in the performance.








Last night, it was the turn of the University Chamber Choir to participate in the Carol Service, an evocative event at Canterbury Cathedral bringing together members from across the University community in a programme of lessons and carols to explore the season of Advent.

Second-year Music Scholar, Hannah Ost (pictured here in rehearsal), launched the service in energetic fashion conducting Gaudete.

Elsewhere, Your Loyal Correspondent directed the eighteen-piece choir in a lyrically colourful setting of Lullay My Liking by Will Inscoe, a sixth-form pupil at St Edmund’s School, and a deft Ding Dong! Merrily on High. Earlier on, second-year postgraduate Law student and Music Scholar, Helen Sotillo, ushered in the Christmas season with a clarion-clear solo verse of Once In Royal David’s City – as it lifted into the upper reaches of the Nave, the season unfurled above the heads of the assembled congregation, stood in  an expectant, candlelit hush.

Next up: tomorrow brings a Christmas lunchtime concert with the Flute Choir and Minerva Voices, and later the annual festive knees-up that is the Big Band’s Christmas Swingalong. Well, it IS the season…

‘Tis the season…

As usual, there’s a steady crescendo of events leading up to the end of the Christmas term; on Monday night, the University Chamber Choir performed amidst the candle-lit hush of Canterbury Cathedral as part of the University Carol Service.

Image: Matt Wilson / University of Kent

Second-year Matthew Cooke made his conducting debut with In Dulci Jubilo, and other carols the Choir sang included Russell Hepplewhite’s Star of the East, fresh from having performed it live on BBC Radio 4 last week.

Image: Matt Wilson / University of Kent
Image: Matt Wilson / University of Kent

On Tuesday, the String Sinfonia gave a seasonal concert amidst the current exhibition in Studio 3 Gallery as part of the continuing #EarBox series, in a programme that included Corelli’s Christmas Concerto.

Final-year student Lydia Cheng was the featured soloist in a dynamic, energy-filled performance of ‘Winter’ from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.

And there’s no respite, as the Big Band prepares for its annual Christmas Swingalong in a few hours’ time, the final event in our Christmas hamper…

Final week of seasonal music-making

It’s been a busy week here in the Music department, with the final musical events bringing the term to a rousing seasonal finale.

On Tuesday, the Chamber Choir, conducted by Your Loyal Correspondent,  performed as part of the University Carol Service in Canterbury Cathedral – always a magical occasion, which starts with the entire Cathedral being plunged into darkness, and the notes of the choir’s first carol rising to the dark recesses of vaulted roof above a sea of candles. Second-year Doug Haycock made his conducting debut with Tavener’s The Lamb, opening the service in evocative fashion.

img_1138fullsizerenderWednesday afternoon saw General Harding’s Tomfoolery, the vintage dance-band, taking to the foyer-stage in a spirited selection of swing classics, for which they were joined by The Minervettes; trombonist and singer, post-grad Rob Cliff was a smooth host, and both band and singers were in fine form in pieces including American PatrolPuttin’ On The Ritz and Sleigh Ride.

The final event in this term’s musical calendar was yesterday evening’s ebullient Christmas Swingalong with the Big Band, directed by Ian Swatman, which saw first-years Dottie Grenville and Alicia O’Malley making their singing debut with the band. Feisty incarnations of familiar pieces including A Chilli Pepper Christmas, audience carols with the brass ensemble and the traditional, inimitable rendition of Santa, Baby by our very own Sophie Meikle culminated in a sing-along I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, before audience and performers alike spilled out into the foyer for mulled wine and mince pies.

img_1145 img_1149It’s been a terrific term, full of music-making; thanks to both everyone who has performed throughout the term, as well as to those who have been amongst the audiences. We’ll be back in the New Year with full details of our spring / summer season; from all the Music team here, we wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas!

Christmas music-making

It’s been a busy few days here in the Music department, a sure sign that the Christmas period is well and truly here.

Last weekend, the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra came together in a seasonal performance of Vaughan Williams’ The First Nowell, brimful of carols familiar and unfamiliar; Shostakovich’s wry Symphony no.9 stepped out in sprightly form in the first half, and the Chorus also turned their hand to international linguistics with the choral interlude in Finlandia. There was a suitably seasonal conviviality to the hubbub backstage, including the taking of many selfies and a competition to see who could fit the largest number of performers into their selfie, a feat won hands-down by clarinettist Rianna Carr, whose prize-winning photo can be seen online somewhere on Twitter…

WP_20151212_003 Members of the Orchestra backstage
No strings attached…

And last night, Minerva Voices, the new upper-voices choir, filled the Nave of Canterbury Cathedral as part of the annual University Carol Service, including a soaring rendition of the opening verse of Once in Royal David’s City from second-year BioSciences student and Music Scholar, Charlotte Webb.

Minerva Voices with assistant conductor, Joe Prescott
Sweet singing in the Choir…

It doesn’t stop there; tomorrow sees a festive ‘Watch This Space’ on the foyer-stage, and later the Big Band gets its Christmas swing on with its now traditional Christmas Swingalong. ‘Tis the season to be really rather jolly indeed!

Around the blogs this week

Over on the choral blog, Cantus Firmus, there’s a look back at the University Carol Service that took place on Monday night at Canterbury Cathedral, at which the University Chamber performed, processed, and managed not to set light to anything flammable…

There’s also a look at some of the contemporary repertoire facing the University Cecilian Choir, ahead of its concert next term.

Mightier than the sword…

And in case you missed it, conductor of the University Big Band, Ian Swatman, ponders the inevitability of next week’s Swing-along-a-Santa over on On The Beat.

Meanwhile, we’re all preparing for tomorrow night’s concert with the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra in the usual end-of-term extravaganza. See you on Monday…

That was a week, that was…

It’s been an action-packed final week; from Thursday through to Sunday, many of the University’s musicians were involved in rehearsing for, and performing in, the Gala opening concerts on Saturday and Sunday; the University Carol Service took place in Canterbury Cathedral on Monday night; there was a ‘Winter Wonderland’ lunchtime concert at which the Estates Team Choir made its debut yesterday; and finally Carols Round the Christmas Tree yesterday night.

Chorus and Orchestra in the Gala weekend, Image: Miles Banbery

We’re still recovering, both from the number of events in so short a time, but also from the heady success of the formal opening of the wonderful Colyer-Fergusson music building. You can see extensive photographs from the entire weekend on our special Pinterest board here.

The weekend saw two works premièred: one with the Chamber Choir by your loyal correspondent, the other with Concert Band in James Rae’s Platform One, which you can read about on their blog, ‘On The Beat’ here.

The Chamber Choir sang at the University Carol Service in Canterbury Cathedral on Monday night; find out how they got on in a feature over on the choral blog, Cantus Firmus, here.

University Chamber Choir

Wednesday’s festive lunchtime concert saw music from the Cecilian Choir, the Canterberries, and the debut performance from the Estates Team Choir; read about how it went (and there’s even some footage too…) on Cantus Firmus here.

The Estates Team Choir

And finally, members of the University community and friends gathered in the chilly night to bid a musical farewell to the term at ‘Carols Round The Tree.’

Image: Jim Higham

We’re taking a break for Christmas, but will be back again in the New Year to report on all the events we’re lining up for next term through to the week-long Summer Music in June; it’s going to be an exciting period. Festive good wishes to all our readers: see you in January.

Around the blogs this week

The Chamber Choir is travelling across boundaries in a cosmopolitan rehearsal, as it looks at repertoire for the February Crypt concert as well as prepares for Monday’s Carol Service in the Cathedral…

The Medway Choir is about to make its debut in the Universities of Medway Carol Service, also next Monday, which also features music, drama and readings by various Societies as well, in what promises to be a vibrant festive celebration.

Mightier than the sword...

‘Tis the season, after all…

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!