Tag Archives: cathedral

On a Haydn to nothing with the cellos ?

As the cellists know, it’s green-light for this weekend’s all-day rehearsal on Haydn’s The Creation  with the Choir and Orchestra ahead of the Cathedral Concert a week on Saturday.

No strings attached

Sunday will see the combined forces gather in Eliot Hall to rehearse together for the first time, in preparation for the concert; next week sees a particularly busy time for the University’s musicians, with rehearsals on Monday, Thursday and Friday; not to mention the rehearsal in the Cathedral itself on the morning of the day.

Details of the concert on our online diary here. It should prove to be a memorable occasion…


Full steam ahead for tomorrow’s Cathedral extravaganza

With less than thirty-six hours to go before the Chorus and Orchestra storm the Cathedral (musically, that is) for the annual Colyer-Fergusson Concert, all systems are powering ahead.

Chorus of approval: photo credit Robert Berry

Final rehearsals this week, including tonight, before rehearsing in situ tomorrow, when the Chorus are reminded of the literal heights to which they can ascend on the tiered choral seating, and the Orchestra remember just how close they will be sitting to the audience. With a battery of percussion required for the Stravinsky ‘Firebird Suite,’ there’ll be an even bigger orchestra than usual.

Combined with the mighty Meistersingers Overture by Wagner and Mozart’s sublime Requiem, it promises to be a titanic occasion: see you there!

Was It Good For You: Keri Sherman.

Continuing the series profiling former musical students at the University of Kent. This week, Keri Sherman.


Keri Sherman
Laying down the Law: Keri Sherman

When were you at Kent ?  

Autumn 2003 – Spring 2006

What subject did you study ?

Law & Business Administration

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

I am currently a Barrister in The Bahamas.

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

Yes, I rejoined the Bahamas National Youth Choir {a touring Choir and the official national choir of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas} in the Fall of 2008. In addition to performing with the Choir as a chorister and soloist, I have begun freelancing, as it were, as a classical soloist in New Providence. As a freelancer I have had the opportunity to sing for the past two years at the Lyford Cay International Golf Tournament.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

I received private voice lessons from Sophie Meikle, who is amongst other things a musical assistant at the University, from January of 2004 – 2005. At Sophie’s urging I joined the University Chorus in the fall of 2005 and took part in the Christmas concert at the Canterbury Cathedral. With the University Chorus Itackled singing in Hebrew for the first time when we performed Leonard Bernstein’s work, the Chichester Psalms in the spring of 2006.

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

My University music experience made me comfortable as a performer and gave me confidence in my ability as a soloist. And it goes without saying but I received invaluable training and advice from Sophie which has helped me to blossom a musician. 

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

I would say my first performance as a soloist at a student concert in Keynes I believe. I trembled like a leaf through most of the song “Caro Mio Ben”, but I got through it and it was an exhilarating experience!


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: Suzannah Lipmann.

A series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Suzannah Lipmann.

Suzannah Lipmann
On her metal: Suzannah Lipmann.


When were you at Kent ?

2005 – 2009

What subject did you study ?

Social Anthropology with a Year in Japan

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

I am a Minor-Metals trader.

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

Yes, I have weekly singing lessons and I am going to be singing Bernstein’s Mass with a choir from the Southbank Centre in  July at the Royal Festival Hall.  I also am in a band (Jazz/ Rock) with a family friend and my old art teacher from school!

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

In my first year I was a member of the Chamber Choir and in my final year I was a member of the Chorus and a permanent fixture in the first year of Jazz at 5 (Sept 2008 – Jun 2009).

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

Singing with the Chamber Choir in 2005 in the Christmas concert in Cantebury Cathedral.

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

Take every opportunity and make time, because no matter how little time you think you have at uni it is nothing like life after uni when you work!  I missed a whole year of being involved with singing at uni, because I thought I didn’t have enough time.  This was a big mistake as that is a whole year in which you could have improved that bit more.  After uni it is so much harder to find a good auditioned choir with people your own age.  So definitely do as much as you can while it’s on a plate for you.  At the very least you can make friends with whom you share an interest which is rather rare. 


If you’re a musical 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: Mitesh Khatri.

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Mitesh Khatri. 


Mitesh Khatri
In tune with the times: Mitesh Khatri

When were you at Kent?
2002 – 2005 

What subject did you study ?
Computer Systems Engineering 

What occupation are you now engaged in ?
Music – currently finishing my 2nd postgrad year at the Birmingham Conservatoire. I’m hoping to stay in the music industry as either a teacher or, preferably, an opera singer. 

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

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?
I sang with the University Chorus and Chamber Choir, both for three years. I was also assistant conductor to the Chamber Choir for one year. I was involved with the Music Society for all three years at uni, and I also received a bursary for singing lessons for three years. I was also a member of a barbershop quartet that was set up by four of us, called Fortunes (or possibly FourTunes, I’m not sure which!). 

What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent ?
It gave me a release from the academic side of being at university, and in doing so also helped me get through uni by providing me with the opportunity to continue doing something I had already been doing, and that I already enjoyed. Since being Kent, and partly because I was involved with the music so heavily, I’ve never really looked back from singing, and I’ve continued to have lessons and sing with amateur groups, and go on to do a postgrad degree and aim to make singing my career. 

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?
In December 2003 we did a performance of Carmina Burana in Eliot College, and I was the tenor soloist for it. That was my first solo experience with a full orchestra and it was one ofthe best things I’ve ever done. I’ll never forget it. There were also a number of Cathedral Concerts in my final year, the university’s 40th anniversary. The ones that stick out are the Verdi Requiem and the Elgar Nimrod Variations. I have to also say that everyone I worked with was so friendly and it was all so much fun! 

What would you say to current musical students at the University ?
Don’t underestimate what you can get from people like Sue, both on a musical and personal level. She’s put her heart and soul into music making at Kent and she does a terrific job. The variety of musical opportunities at Kent don’t present themselves outside university life so easily, and some are just less easily accessible. If you want to try your hand at something musical or if there’s a chance to do something you’ve always wanted to do but never been able to, then Kent ‘s the place to do it. It’s only because Kent doesn’t have it’s own music degree or department that anyone can get involved with projects and productions, and people do it for fun and to enjoy it, not to prove themselves. Everyone worked together, and had a great time doing it. So just dive in and see what you can find!


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!

Alanya Holder is ‘Wrapping up Spring.’

Be My Guest: an occasional series featuring guest posts and contributions. This week, a look back over the musical events of the Spring term, the second article from second-year Law student and recently-elected President of the Music Society, Alanya Holder.

Wrapping Up Spring.

“Sometimes I forget I’m doing a Law Degree…”

When I first sat down and thought of everything musical that has happened over the last term I realised that if I talked about every single one in detail, this blog post would never end. So instead here is a whirlwind tour of the Spring term with the Music Society… 

University Chorus and Orchestra
University Chorus and Orchestra in Canterbury Cathedral: Photo: Robert Berry

January began with everyone complaining how much they had eaten over Christmas and how none of us at Chorus could make sense of the Szymanowski Stabat Mater. With the Cathedral Concert only a couple of months away, nerves set in immediately and adrenaline kept us all going until the day. However I must admit that by the day we had come to love the Szymanowski in a strange kind of way and I definitely loved the Poulenc Gloria. A fellow musician, Chris Gray has written a fantastic blog post all about the Cathedral concert day – one of the longest days of my life, but a fantastic one.

So a few weeks into term, not much going on – I know, let’s have a SOCIAL! The Music Society had a ‘blues’ themed social at the Orange Street Club. It was blues night at the club, and the Society all came dressed in blue – or as a Blues Brother in one case (good effort Andrew Bailey!) And as we all danced the night away, I was contemplating my first concert of the term – the Concert Band and Big Band annual concert in the Gulbenkian Theatre.

University Big Band
Good Times Roll! The University Big Band

The band concert is well known for being a night of fun and fantastic music, this year featuring the singing sensation Crystal Cowban! However while the concert all looks fantastic and sounds even better, few know of the hours and hours of preparation that go into it! In the weeks running up to the concert it’s a mad rush making sure that there are enough copies of all the music and trying to tie people down to saying if they are definitely performing so that a seating plan can be made! On the day instruments pile into a van and make their way to the theatre, chairs are stolen from seminar rooms because there just aren’t enough and generally everyone rushes around like a headless chicken until we sit down to rehearse in the afternoon. Similar goings-on after the concert make the day long and hard but definitely worth it – even if my clarinet playing skills are not something to shout about. [Not true! – Ed.].

Altogether now: Sing!

Something new for me this year was singing in ‘Sing!’ a student run choir that performed in the Gulbenkian Cafe as a warm-up act for the concert. We sang such greats as Lean on Me and a Disney Medley. More to come from ‘Sing!’ at ArtsFest and next year.

At the end of February (yes I’m only up to February!) I took the plunge and volunteered to sing at Dan Harding’s ‘Jazz at 5’ – a brilliant innovation which got me listening to some different kinds of music and gave me the opportunity to sing solo, something I haven’t done for over a year. I sang two songs by Fairground Attraction and Why don’t you do right by Peggy Lee. I’ve loved watching all my friends take part in Jazz at 5 and couldn’t have asked for a better experience in life when I got up there and did it for myself.

Two days after this was the Chamber Choir Crypt Concert. This was my first year in the Chamber Choir and it has been tonnes of fun! Amy Clarke has been a fantastic conductor this year and the Cathedral Crypt just made the evening so special. That evening truly was one of those nights that gives you a shiver down your spine as you’re doing something you love, with people you love in a place that you can’t help but love! Can’t wait for next year…

And finally to my last concert of the term – the Littlebourne Concert. This was a great opportunity for the Chamber Choir to have another chance to sing our repertoire in another location and for a good cause. We were also joined by the Cecilian Choir who sang Vivaldi’s Gloria. This was fantastic, a piece that is a personal favourite of mine.

And so the term comes to a close…I’ve sung, I’ve played, I’ve watched and I’ve organised. This term has been hectic and stressful but also wonderful. I’ve made some really good friends and been given new and amazing opportunities. I will never forget my time with the Music Society at Kent University – it has been my life this last term! I don’t think my parents will forget it either, as they have been at every single concert I’ve been involved in – dedication and a half!

Sometimes I forget I’m doing a Law Degree…

A Day In The Life: Chris Gray

An occasional series featuring guest posts and contributions. 


This post comes from Music Scholar and first-year  Architecture student, Chris Gray. Chris plays tuba in the University Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band, and sings bass with the Chamber Choir and the Cecilian Choir.  Chris has previously been Principal Tuba with the Wessex Youth Orchestra for three years, and lives in Poole in Dorset.  He recently played in the University’s Colyer-Fergusson Concert in Canterbury Cathedral. 

Chris Gray
Top brass: Chris Gray.


Bleurgh. 9am. Is all this really worth it? 

Saturday 13th March. Eliot College music store room. Day of the Cathedral Concert. 

I guess this was it, the start of a long day, culminating, hopefully, in a wondrous concert. That last sentence is tinged with doubt, not because I have no faith in my fellow musicians, but because on the day of a big concert like this, doubts do start creeping up into your mind about your own musical ability, and being a tuba player, you have good reason to!  Hitting the top A in the Strauss, playing the octave jumps in the Poulenc…. 

I started off the day doing what I am useful for, moving heavy percussion. We successfully threaded the timpani through a tightly-packed store room and through the bowels of Eliot College. I took great delight in marching with the bass drum, banging it loudly informing the residents of Eliot College of my impending heroics lifting timpani into the idling van outside…. more like trying to wake everyone up to let them share the beautiful crisp spring morning with me and the other musicians up at this torrid hour. 

A very nervous journey in the percussion van from campus to the Cathedral ensued with glances back at the precious cargo every time we heard a bang or crash. We arrived in the Cathedral Precincts and proceeded to unload the van, carrying the percussion down a small make-shift corridor, through the South door and into the Nave. 

The Cathedral was already a hive of activity with vergers, members of the chorus and various students and staff from the University milling around tending to their jobs. Once we had located and set up the timps, we started on the chairs for the orchestra under the expert guidance of Sophie and Dan Wheeler. I had heard that fitting the orchestra in between the towering columns of the Nave was a difficult job with no room for error. 

We started with the timpani, then the woodwind making sure that the principals of the woodwind section were directly in front of the podium….. one of Sophie’s pet hates. Then the brass in two rows so the lower brass could deafen the trumpets who in turn could inflict ear-splitting terror on the violas. The strings worked out nicely and with the podium for the conductor and soloists in the correct place, in accordance with Health & Safety providing a 1.4m gap around all obstacles, it was done. I stepped back…. plenty of room, don’t know what the fuss was about!! 

Then I saw where I would be sitting….. 

Words cannot describe the predicament I would be in. Stuck behind a pillar, wedged between a desk of the double basses and the timpani, I dreaded the moment when ‘the listener is catapulted headlong into a torrid allegro’…. (Sue’s programme notes). I thought I would never get the downbeat in the right place…. What if I came in a bar early….? 

Then the long and arduous process of seating the chorus took place. To liken it to a familiar occurrence would be like watching the start of the London Marathon, yet the athletes were tethered down and then when they did break free of their reigns, they would be running on treacle… 

Rehearsals started dead-on 11.15am…. yeah right, on days like this you can bet your house that they don’t, it’s something about a large group of chattering people in a confined space that seems to make you lose track of time. 

Rehearsals began with the Szymanowski, so time for coffee for the lower brass players or in my case a lovely white Malteser milkshake! One thing I noticed whilst watching the rehearsals, was the length of acoustic in the cathedral. 3 seconds! How we would pull of the Strauss or the delicacy of the Poulenc was beyond me, but somehow in this setting, the pieces seemed to fit and gel with the architecture of the building. Good choice of programme, I’d say! 

Then came my moment of glory, my incredibly important part in the Poulenc, all 33 bars of it! I do like the piece, I just find it hard to look past the part I’m playing and listen to the overall work, listening to it, here, now, in the comfort of my own room you can appreciate the ‘juxtaposing of thematic cells’… (Sue’s programme notes again). 

Poulenc done. 15 minutes for lunch…. yes I know, that is how committed we musicians are! 

Onto the Strauss which does have a very nice tuba part. I enjoyed playing this, although the droves of Cathedral visitors milling around during rehearsal not only annoyed Sue but most of the orchestra as well. Nothing like the musical setting of the transfiguration of a dying artist to the backdrop of chattering schoolchildren. Strauss almost done, but no, we need to rehearse the last 6 bars over and over to try and kill the brass… Then onto the Ravel (sorry not much to say about this, I went outside). 

2.15 came, relaxed for the rest of the day. DJ – check. Time to go!!! 

7.30 concert time. Well not for me, I watched from the sideline as Ravel and Szymanowski didn’t want me in their music. It was interesting to watch people prepare for the concert the inexperienced paced… the experienced laughed and joked about the inexperienced. First half finished after amazing performances from orchestra, choir and soloists. 

Then came the second half and it was time to play some Strauss. I kept fiddling with my bowtie, asking people if it looked right or not, but in the end it didn’t matter because I was sat behind a pillar! The Strauss went well, and it was amazing to be part of such a large orchestra, now, after weeks of rehearsals, playing as such a coherent group of musicians as one huge music making machine churning out bar after bar of absolute perfection. Sorry, got carried away in the music there… it happens. Then the Poulenc, the wonderful individuality of this underrated French composer coupled with the skills of Sue bringing chorus, orchestra and soloist into a blazing finale. Blazing finale meaning fading away into nothing! 

The audience loved it, the Cathedral had been filled with vocalists and instrumentalists alike, and we did ourselves proud. On the drive back to campus from the Cathedral, I asked myself the same question that I asked myself that morning, some 13.5 hours ago… 

Was it worth it? 

Oh yes.. most definitely.