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.
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.
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.
Bravo to all involved: a concert to ‘warm’ the heart…
Over on ‘Cantus Firmus,’ the University Cecilian Choir is in preparation for Monday’s ‘Cold’ lunchtime concert, as it rehearses Purcell’s ‘Frost Scene’ from King Arthur.
There’s also no time for the Chamber Choir to rest on its laurels, as it heads straight from its Advent concert last Friday into rehearsals for the Carol Service in Canterbury Cathedral on Monday week.
It’s still a ridiculously busy time for music at the University as the last three weeks of term draw on: Wednesday sees the Concert and Big Bands teaming up with St. Edmund’s School Big Band in a charity event, as they support the Lady Mayoress’ Charities this year, as written about in the previous post: additionally, on Friday, the University Cecilian Choir and Brass Ensemble perform ‘The Grand Tour,’ a sequence of music and readings celebrating the cultural odyssey around Europe, at St. Paul’s Church, Canterbury; the concert is in aid of St. Paul’s organ restoration fund (as blogged about on the choral blog, Cantus Firmus, here).
With all the various choral exploits at the University this year, I’m pleased to say that one way of keeping up with all that’s going on has now been launched. Already going strong, Cantus Firmus is the new choral blog, following the Chamber and Cecilian Choirs through their various projects this year.
With the Chamber Choir heading full tilt towards their Advent Concert by Candlelight in five weeks’ time as well as preparing for their Crypt Concert in February, and the Cecilians preparing their spring repertoire, there’s lots to follow. Also appearing is a regular column on the art of the choral conductor, ‘Not drowning by waving,’ offering insights into the role of the conductor, aspects of rehearsal technique, advice on working with a choir and developing its sound, and there’s the first post from one of the basses on life inside the Chamber Choir.
There’ll be articles focusing on repertoire the groups are preparing, and audio extracts of some of the pieces being learnt along the way.
Make sure you add Cantus Firmus to your RSS reader or list of Favourites, to keep in touch with choral life at Kent. Something to sing about.
A series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Jo Pearsall.
When were you at Kent ?
1989 to 1992 to study – from 2002 as a member of staff
What subject did you study ?
What occupation are you now engaged in ?
Administrative Assistant, Central Secretariat, University of Kent
If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical experiences now ?
Yes: I am a member of the University of Kent Symphony Orchestra, strategically placed at the back of the first violins. I also sing with the Cecilian Choir, a small group of staff, students and alumni that’s a new venture this year, and I’ve also sung at Jazz @ 5. I am a member of a chamber choir in Canterbury called Cantemus. I also do other bits of singing and playing here and there.
How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?
I was President of the Music Society! Actually I couldn’t begin to list all of the music that I was involved in whilst at Kent, even if my poor old memory could remember it all, but highlights were singing in summer opera projects, playing in the Symphony Orchestra, singing with the Chamber Choir including a particularly memorable trip to Prague, playing in the orchestra pit of The Pyjama Game at the Marlowe Theatre, playing for various other dramatic performances and singing at ad hoc occasions including in local churches and at high table dinners.
What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent ?
A huge amount of experience both musically and organisationally that has stood me in good stead to this day and probably led to my getting my first proper job.
What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?
Probably having a small solo part in the opera Die Fledermaus in 1992 at the Gulbenkian Theatre. A gorgeous dress was made specially for me to wear which was too exciting! I have been mercilessly mocked about my “acting” skills ever since.
What would you say to current musical students at the University ?
Enjoy yourselves, take part in lots of musical activities and organise some too and remember that the friends that you are making whilst making music now are probably the ones you will still have in twenty years’ time, so make sure you look after each other.
If you’re a musical alumnus and would like to be featured, please get in touch via the Music Department website: we’d love to hear from you!
The good citizens of Littlebourne got more than they bargained for when they wrote to me last Autumn, inviting the Music Department to provide a concert for them. Last week, to their surprise, not one but two choirs arrived at St. Vincent’s Church, Littlebourne, for a concert of choral music.
The evening was shared between the University’s Chamber Choir, who were returning for the second year running, and an ensemble new to the University, the Cecilian Choir. Directed with authority by third-year Drama student Amy Clarke, the Chamber Choir explored a varied repertoire, ranging from Schütz’s eight-part German Magnificat for double choir, and Bruckner’s Os Iusti to the wonderfully luminous Lux Aurumque by Whitacre, featuring some ethereal top notes from the sopranos. Tučapský’s Five Lenten Motets brought a suitably seasonal feel to the concert, and the concert ended with a lyrical rendition of Vaughan Williams’ folk-song settings.
The occasion was also the inaugural concert for the University’s Cecilian Choir, founded back in November as an opportunity for students, staff and alumni to make music on a smaller scale as a companion to the University Chorus. The group is a fine example of the nature of music-making across the university community observed in a previous post. Directed by Dan Harding, they gave a spirited performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria, with a profound exploration of the dissonances of the second movement, Et in terra pax hominibus. There was also high drama in the Domine Deus, Rex coelestis which pitches a solo voice against a beseeching chorus. Soloists were drawn from students and staff alike. The choir also sang two short but colourful motets by Howard Skempton, who is fast becoming a favourite of the University concert programmes.
St. Vincent’s Church has a window in the south aisle dedicated to St. Cecilia, the patron saint of music, after whom the Cecilian Choir is named, and it was a fitting place for the choir in which to make their debut performance. The saint would have been delighted to hear the music of both choirs, we hope.
Congratulations to all the musical staff, students and alumni who took part. I wonder how many choirs will turn up next year ?