Tag Archives: Chamber Choir

A busy month ahead…

The months have reached November, and it’s the start of a busy period for music at the University.

Over the next few weeks, we’ve lots of events coming up, of which the the first is a lunchtime recital by the internationally-acclaimed pianist, Benjamin Frith, returning to the Gulbenkian with Mussorgsky’s mighty Pictures at an Exhibition.

What's OnThen it’s time to raise your voice for charity, as the Gulbenkian opens its doors to the annual ‘Sing for Children in Need;’ turn up with a donation and sing Handel’s rousing ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ in aid of a very good cause.

Towards the end of the month, the Chamber Choir will launch the Advent season in their ‘Music for Advent‘ concert in Blean; a sequence of music and readings to begin the Advent period, with proceeds for the concert in aid of Blean Church Restoration Appeal and Blean School Playground Improvements.

This Sunday, the Symphony Orchestra has its weekend workshop in preparation for its December concert with the Chorus. Also this week the Cecilian Choir forms for the first time this year, as we begin our rehearsals for the ‘Cold Concert‘ at the start of next month.

Details of each of these nearer the time, but in the meantime you can see the full brochure on-line here. Get ready for some exciting events to come…

(And just to whet your appetite, here’s Evgeny Kissin in a section of the solo-piano incarnation of Pictures at an Exhibition. If you’re excited by this, wait until you hear Frith’s performance…)

Was It Good For You: Siobhan Harper

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Siobhan Harper.

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Siobhan Harper
Skempton fan: Siobhan Harper

When were you at Kent?

I was at Kent from September 2006 until July 2009.

What subject did you study?

English Literature and Film Studies.

What occupation are you now engaged in?

I’m doing a Masters degree in English at the University of Exeter.

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

I’m not sure I’d cope if I wasn’t doing something musical! After I graduated I was in the City of Birmingham Symphony Chorus for a year, which was fantastic; we did loads of amazing pieces with some renowned conductors, and went on tour to Kuala Lumpur! Currently I’m in the Exeter University Singers, which is basically like a larger chamber choir. In fact, we’ve done a few of the same pieces that we did at Kent!

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent?

I was in the Chamber Choir and Chorus for the whole of my three years, in the society committee for the last two, and I had a singing scholarship and a music lesson scholarship. I also performed at Jazz @ 5, and at ArtsFest as part of Three Divas and a Piano. I think I had more contact hours with the music department than with my course!

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

Definitely most importantly, I made some of my best friends through the music society, friends that I still can’t seem to get rid of! Every crypt concert we’re reunited as a big group and it’s always one of the best nights of the year.

Knowing that I can handle doing a university course and being an active part of a society is fantastic. Both required so much organisation and time management, and it’s great to know that I am capable of handling those two disparate things. The knowledge that I wanted to be doing all things musical alongside all my work was also fantastic; music has always been such a big part of my life and I loved being able to continue with it at university.

And, of course, my balloon-blowing skills have come along in leaps and bounds, thanks to ArtsFest.    

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent?

One particularly wonderful memory is of Jacob Barnes, Chamber Choir’s accompanist for my first two years of university. In our first crypt concert in 2007, Jacob performed, and it was the highlight of the concert; he was an extraordinary musician and we were all blown away by his performance. I wasn’t lucky enough to know him as well as others did, but I have the deepest sympathy for his friends and family. Rest in peace, Jacob.

My musical experience at Kent was so rich, it’s far too difficult to pick just one memory. So I won’t:

Every Chamber Choir crypt concert, and every post-concert trip to the Buttermarket. Paris Tour 2008. African drums in the cathedral crypt. All of Sue’s quotes that we noted down gleefully in every Chorus rehearsal. Sop Central. Tippett Spirituals. Every committee handover meal. Chili con Carne. Sneaking into the VIP tent at ArtsFest. Every chamber choir rehearsal in the OTE. Eric Whitacre’s Sleep. When my party popper didn’t go off during the ‘Champagne Polka’. Here Come The Girls. Having the chorus sing me ‘Happy Birthday’ on my 21st. Howard Skempton, and the signed photographs. Boozy Ss. Staying up to watch the sunrise after ArtsFest 2008.

What an unforgettable experience.

Be My Guest: Matt Bamford reviews the Chamber Choir concert at Wye

Be My Guest: an occasional series featuring guest post and contributions. This week, first-year International Business and French student Matt Bamford reviews last Friday’s concert by the Chamber Choir.

The rural village of Wye was the setting for another fantastic concert by the University of Kent Chamber Choir, conducted by the Deputy Director of Music, Dan Harding. The church at Wye is a great building, although we quickly realised that it was also very cold- warmer outside than inside in fact!

The concert aimed to explore the rich and varied music of England, Wales and Scotland and this aim was certainly achieved as the programme travelled from madrigals by Weelkes to a brilliant arrangement of the jazz piece Flowers by Watkiss.

The concert began with the religious version of the English round Perspice Christicola which was the oldest piece that was sung by the choir. The audience were then treated to two pieces of Henry Purcell which were again, excellently delivered.

The piece that stood out for me in the first half and was received with great applause from the rest of the audience was The Gallant Weaver by James Macmillan. The modern piece composed in 1997, based on the 1791 text by Robert Burns, had a very Gaelic feel and the sopranos really did excel. All three soprano parts in the arrangement were all handled very well and this allowed the tranquil mood of the piece to be brought out well.

After a short interval, (and an unsuccessful trip to try and find a glass of wine!) the second half began with the secular lyrics to the same English round that began the concert, Sumer is Icumen in. The second half was full of excellent performances but the last three pieces really did stand out.

Weelkes’ madrigal Hark, All Ye Lovely Saints Above was superbly performed and the contrast in dynamics really stood out. There was a fantastic beat that was defined by the emphasis of certain words and this really added to the madrigal fun!

I have heard many arrangements of Steal Away but there really is something quite incredible about Chilcott’s. It begins with an almost dissonant and uncertain feel but there is a climax in the middle of the piece that was probably the most powerful part of the concert. Again, fantastic dynamic control here from the choir.

The concert certainly ended with a bang, Harding’s arrangement of Cleveland Watkiss’ piece Flowers. The audience really took well to this piece that you would not normally expect to hear in this programme. As I looked around I could see many pensioners almost dancing to the fantastic beat that was held down by the bass section. I must point out here also that there was some brilliant improvised scatting from Steph Richardson.

Congratulations to all on a clever programme that was delivered to a very high standard! I am already excited for June’s concert at St. Vincent’s Church, Littlebourne!

Go ahead and jump!

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.

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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!

Lights, camera: Christmas!

Christmas in Canterbury has officially begun, and the Chamber Choir yesterday braved the freezing weather to sing to the good citizens in the town, still shopping at 5pm, with a selection of seasonal music.

May you beautifully rhyme...

A well-lit stage in the pedestrian precinct adjacent to Fenwick’s hosted the Cathedral Choristers, pupils from King’s School, and the University Chamber Choir, who gave rousing performances of popular carols under the exuberant direction of the Deputy Director of Music, whilst fourth-year Drama student (and a former Chamber Choir conductor herself) Amy Clarke also stepped out of the soprano section to conduct the not-so-seasonal but lively piece, Words by Anders Edenroth.

The Choir then adjourned to the street market in Whitefriars for some much-deserved mulled wine, where they showed their appreciation to the ladies on the market-stall by bursting into a spontaneous rendition of Ding, Dong, Merrily on High, to the delight of late shoppers who came out of the surrounding shops to listen.

Make good cheer and be right merry

Celebrities from this year’s Marlowe Theatre pantomime (including The Fast Show’s John Thompson) then entertained the crowds and the town’s Christmas lights were turned on. Christmas has officially begun here!

The Chamber Choir are in action next week, in hopefully warmer circumstances, in their ‘Advent by Candlelight‘ concert at St. Mildred’s, Stour Street on Friday evening: catch them if you can!

Photos: Susan Wanless.

Was It Good For You: Dominic Del Nevo

A series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Dominic del Nevo.

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When were you at Kent ?

2002/2003 – 2004/2005

What subject did you study ?

Politics & International Relations

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

Pensions Administration.

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

Dominic del Nevo
Married to the job: Dom del Nevo.

Yes – I have recently taken on the position of choir director at St Paul’s Church in Canterbury.  I also sing with a couple of Canterbury-based chamber choirs.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

I sang with the Chamber Choir for two years and conducted it in my final year.  I was the Secretary of the Music Society in my secnd year.  I also sang with the University Chorus, and did the occasional stint of barbershop singing.

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

It was certainly a lot of fun, and I gained some great friends (and a fiancée, now wife!) in the process.  I was able to take advantage of some brilliant opportunities – singing and conducting in the Crypt of the Cathedral, and solo singing in the Cathedral and elsewhere.  The experience of conducting the Chamber Choir is one of the reasons why I’m now conducting a church choir every week.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

Being involved in the first ArtsFest – it was so different from ‘just’ the Prom concerts of previous years, and a really exciting and unpredictable event…plus the weather was perfect!

What would you say to current musical students at the University ? (optional!)

Come and join St Paul’s Church choir!  But seriously, take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, you may not get another chance.

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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: Dan Wheeler.

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Dan Wheeler.

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Dan Wheeler
Brass cheek: Dan Wheeler

When were you at Kent ?

I was at Kent from 2005-08, although I never quite got around to leaving Canterbury…

What subject did you study ?

Law, although from about the second term onwards you would have thought I was doing a Music degree!

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

The civil service, occasionally making use of my degree!

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

Having never left Canterbury I am still involved in music at the University; singing in the University Chorus whilst also playing tuba and bass guitar in the University Concert and Big Band. I also sing regularly with St Stephen’s church choir (based in the Hales Place area) in weekly services, occasionally covering Evensong services at Canterbury and Rochester Cathedrals.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

In almost every way possible! I have sung in Chorus and Chamber Choir, played tuba in Concert Band and Orchestra and playing until recently in the Orchestra. In my final year I completed the set by running the Music Society as president.

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

Without my University music experience I would not have had the confidence to be where I am today, leaving home and starting a new life in Canterbury. I would not have met all the wonderful people I have come across during my time in numerous rehearsals and made some great friends along the way!

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

Performing the solo in Cornelius’ Three Kings to almost 1000 people in Canterbury Cathedral in the 2006 carol service; that and sitting through my debut Big Band gig after my guitar broke on the first note…!

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

I would encourage all musical students to get involved in as much as possible, it is much more enjoyable than the degree (although admittedly this is coming from a law graduate) and from extensive experience of job hunting (!) I invariably end up being asked more about my musical activities than the degree itself!

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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!