Tag Archives: Chamber Choir

Was It Good For You: Rebecca de Verenne.

Continuing the series profiling muscial alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Rebecca de Verenne.

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Rebecca de Verenne
Phat Choons: Rebecca de Verenne.

When were you at Kent ?

2001-2005

What subject did you study ?

Drama and Theatre Studies

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

Personal Assistant and Administrator with a Nursing/Residential Care Home Group for elderly clients with Dementia and Alzheimer’s. Also currently studying to be a Hypnotherapist (graduate May 2010) and Psychotherapist (graduate May 2012).

If music is not your profession, are you involved in any musical activities ?

I sing in the car on the way to work. Current imaginery collaborations include Florence and the Machine, Dizzee Rascal and Bloodgroup.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

Co-Founder of the Phat Ladies along with Heather Salisbury and Amy Smith, Chamber Choir 2001-2004, Summer Operas, University Chorus, Supported by the Music Department with a bursary in singing 2001-2004.

What did you gain from your musical experiences at Kent ?

More confidence, met lots of great people.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

Cartwheeling across the Gulbenkian stage in silver hot pants with three other girls posing as waitresses for Die Fledermaus. Also all the time I spent with my fellow five Phat Ladies both during performance and practice.

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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: Mitesh Khatri.

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

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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!

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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!

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.].

Sing!
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…

Was It Good For You: Hannah Widmann.

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Hannah Widmann.

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 When were you at Kent ? 

Hannah Widmann
Still ahead: Hannah Widmann

2005-2008

What subject did you study ?   

BSc Psychology  

What occupation are you now engaged in ?  

I am still studying, and have changed fields only slightly. At the moment I’m busy doing research for my MSc thesis in London, my MSc is in Cognitive Science and Psycholinguistics at the University of Amsterdam.  

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

I am still an avid choral singer, and will sing in whatever group that will let me. Luckily, I found a nice chamber choir in Utrecht, not far from my new Dutch home, and have been singing with them for the past 1.5 years. Also, I find most of my friends this way, so gatherings have a tendency to go musical after a drink or two!  

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?  

I was a member of Chorus and Chamber Choir in all three years, and was lucky to receive a Music Lesson Scholarship for singing lessons. I, also sang in several smaller groups (Ladies’ Barbershop, madrigal groups), went to every single Music Society social, and was generally one of those people that you see involved at every concert (not always musically… but I can shake a bucket nicely!). I was also Secretary to the Music Society in 2007-08. I had a brilliant time!

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

Apart from making what I believe to be great music, I had the best time socially. I met most of my Kent friends through the Music Society, and am still in touch with lots of them. I lived with several “music geeks” in my final year, and sharing this hobby that filled most of our social calendars made it such a fun house to live in! I still use music and singing to kick-start my social life in a new place, and one of my first actions in Holland was to look for a decent chamber choir- it had been so central to my life at Kent! And yes, it worked. Choral people are just so likeminded.  

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?  

Oh, there were so many special moments, it’s very hard to pick just one. Musically, my final year in Chamber Choir and the (if I might say so myself) excellent performance at that year’s Crypt Concert spring to mind. The choir really gelled, and the knowledge that we’d go to Paris with this programme made us all work extra hard. It really was a fantastic night.  

A very corny moment, but surely another one of the highpoints of my time at Kent were the carol services in the Cathedral.  The candlelit procession through the Nave, while singing “Once in Royal David’s city” was always a very touching experience.  

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

Make the best of your time at university, and just enjoy the ride.  

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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: Sylvia Hinds.

A series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Sylvia Hinds.   

Sylvia Hinds
On song: Sylvia Hinds

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When were you at Kent ?     

2001-2003    

What subject did you study ?    

English and American Literature, BA Hons    

What occupation are you now engaged in ?    

I work for the University of Kent – in the Admissions Office    

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

I still sing in Canterbury – both for the University, and in a couple of local chamber choirs.    

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?    

I was a member of the Music Society. I sang in the Chamber Choir, and the University Chorus, and I took part in the 2003 Summer Opera.    

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

I transferred to Kent in my second year, and found meeting people quite hard as everyone already knew each other, and my friends were limited to those I met on my course. Once I joined the Music Society, I made a whole new group of friends. Musicians are generally sociable people, and joining the Society helped me find a place at university away from my classes. It also made me want to spend more time at university – I felt part of life on campus, which I hadn’t felt up to then. I went to the library between classes and rehearsals, so it probably helped my grades too.    

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?    

Singing in the Summer Opera was fun, as was performing with the Chamber Choir.    

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

Join the Music Society! Joining a choir or orchestra on campus is a great way to let off steam, make friends, and make great music. Getting involved with the Music Committee looks great on your CV, and the social events are always fun, if a little crazy. Making music once you graduate isn’t always so easy, so cheap, or so much fun, so take advantage now. I also met my fiancée in the Chamber Choir, and we’re getting married in October, so if you’re single, the ‘Sue Wanless Dating Service’ is still going strong…

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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!

Buy one, get one free: two choirs go to Littlebourne.

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. 

Chamber Choir
University of Kent Chamber Choir 2010

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. 

Cecilian Choir logoThe 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 ?

The programme for the entire concert can be viewed here.

Was It Good For You: Tom Millinchip.

A series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Tom Millinchip.

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When were you at Kent?
I was at Kent from 2004-2008.

Tom Millinchip
Society Man: Tom Millinchip

What subject did you study ?
I studied French.

What occupation are you now engaged in ?
Currently working for Majestic Wine in Chester but going to Christchurch to do a PGCE in September.

If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical experiences now ?
Where possible I try and keep up with my singing and am part of a local chorus and Church choir.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?
I was a member of the Chamber Choir, Chorus, Concert Band and Big Band and was Secretary of the Music Society in my second year.

What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent ?
Having come from a musical family, music is in my blood but I didn’t expect to be heavily involved with anything when I first started at Kent.  This however changed as soon as I realised how welcoming and rich music-making at the University was.  My experiences and friends made through performing and socialising were/are invaluable and will be with me for the rest of my life.  Music is an exciting hobby and is a perfect way of getting to know knew people and learn new skills.  In terms of helping since I’ve left, I now have the confidence to join new groups and choirs where possible and working as part of the Committee in the Music Society has helped with my administration and leadership skills.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?
There have been so many, ranging from being involved in the first ever ArtsFest to performing in such a prestigious venue as Canterbury Cathedral.  The main highlight for me however was helping to organise and then going on the Chamber Choir tour to Paris in my final year.  Not only was the choir that year top notch (if I say so myself) but we were lucky enough to sing in La Madeleine and an English Church near the Champs-Elysées.  The experiences and company were unforgettable.

What would you say to current musical students at the University ?
I would say to them that they should just get stuck in no matter what instrument or what level of ability.  Being involved in such a large society and department will provide unrivalled experience and enjoyment and everyone should make the most of the opportunities that they are presented with.

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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: Gerard Collett

Gerard Collett
Hitting the right notes: Gerard Collett. Photo: Aubrey Kurlansky.

Beginning a new series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, we feature Gerard Collett, who recently returned as a soloist in the annual Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert earlier this month. 

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When were you at Kent ? 

I studied at Kent from 2001 to 2004.   

What subject did you study ? 

I took a combined degree in Philosophy and History and Theory of Art.   

What occupation are you now engaged in ? 

I am an opera singer.   

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?  

I conducted the University Chamber Choir, and sang in the University Chorus, and also sang in the Summer Opera Projects.   

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

The value of working as part of a company, whether it was the Chamber Choir or Chorus, or as part of the Music Society in general, and the shared sense of satisfaction of a job well done are lessons I gained from my time at the university.  There is no better or more beneficial contrast for a student who must sit in front of a computer or in the library writing essays, than to make music with other students and lecturers, usually from different disciplines.  Music is a great leveller – we are all created equally, and so can be equally creative.  I strongly believe that.  It can also be great fun!   

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ? 

 I couldn’t pick one, but my most memorable and happy musical experiences were rehearsing for the opera productions.  I think there is something special about the Kentish Summer, there was a real end-of-year-joy in our summer productions.  A close second would be a well deserved beer in Simple Simons’ – (now ‘The Parrot’)… which is a musical experience of sorts…   

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

 To current musical students I would definitely say, 

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If you’re an alumni and would like to be featured, get in touch via the Music Department website: we’d love to hear from you!