Congratulations to all the performers involved in Saturday night’s annual Colyer-Fergusson Concert, which saw the Nave of Canterbury Cathedral resounding to the heroic strains of Beethoven, Haydn and the premiere of a new work by Matthew King.
The Chorus and Orchestra came together under the baton of Susan Wanless in Haydn’s dramatic ‘Nelson Mass,’ joined by several alumni, and the Orchestra (led by final-year Law student and Music Scholar, Lydia Cheng), delivered Beethoven’s mighty Eroica symphony with aplomb.
Composer Matthew King and family were present for the first performance of Matthew’s A Hero Passes, an orchestral tribute to his late father, James King OBE, with which the concert opened. Matthew attended rehearsals the night before and on the morning at the Cathedral.
Thanks to all the behind-the-scenes crew as well, on what is a particularly long day; here’s Your Loyal Correspondent and the Music Administrator clearly early on the day…There are still plenty of events to come over the next few weeks: see what’s next here.
Passing through the University campus on a Monday night, you might just hear the voices of around a hundred and twenty people in full throttle in Italian, or French, or Latin; occasionally Finnish, Czech or German. Draw closer to the open doors of Colyer-Fergusson Hall, and you will spy the combined might of the University Chorus in its regular weekly rehearsal.
Drawn from students, staff, alumni and members of the local community, the University Chorus comes together each Monday night to prepare repertoire for its termly performances, two of which take place in the concert-hall, and the third in the sonorous surroundings of Canterbury Cathedral each spring, to which alumni regularly return to take part. Accompanied by the Symphony Orchestra, the Chorus regularly grapples with popular titans from the choral canon – the Mozart or Verdi Requiem, Beethoven’s Missa Solemnis – as well as more unusual works, which have recently included Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater and Rutter’s When Icicles Hang.
Each June, the Chorus strikes a more informal note with choral medleys and stirring opera-pops for the annual Gala concert during Summer Music Week which closes the academic year, and can be found adroitly becoming a battalion of chimney-sweeps in Mary Poppins, or (in the nicest possible way, of course) dishevelled London urchins in My Fair Lady. Dinner jackets are swapped for bold striped blazers and straw boaters; in a recent American-themed spring concert, the Chorus adorned themselves with stars-and-stripes to imitate farm-yard livestock in Copland’s Old American Songs. It’s not all meditations on Death and mass settings, you know…
As many find, making music – and singing in particular – is a wonderful antidote to the stresses and strains of working life, and Chorus provides a welcome respite from the pressures of dissertation-thrashing in the Templeman Library or grappling with your inbox as a senior member of staff. Staff from both academic and support services can be found alongside postgraduates and undergraduates, senior administrators alongside alumni, members of Registry reaching for those top notes along with local residents. When you’re singing in Polish, or Finnish, all social distinctions are cast aside as you grapple with linguistic challenges and try to keep one eye on the vocal score and one on the Director of Music. But with a strong international flavour to the University community, there’s usually a native-speaker sitting in the choral risers who can advise on tricky pronunciation!
The University Chorus started life as a fifty-strong group which rehearsed in the Senate Building, before taking up residence in the cavernous confines of Eliot College Hall, with its Monday nights in the nowhere-to-hide lack of acoustics in Grimond LT-1; nowadays, it sits in Colyer-Fergusson Hall and watches as the acoustic curtain shifts and flows according to need. Later in the year, it sits on the vertiginously-steep choral risers in the nave of the Cathedral and wonders how it can make its way safely down to the flagstone floor again… The life of a University Chorus member is never dull.
Continuing the series profiling Music Scholarship students at the University of Kent. This week, first year Art History student, Fleur Sumption.
Ever since I can remember, it seems that constantly being surrounded by music of some kind has had a massive impact on my life. Whether it was my Grandad taking me to various symphonies or being sat as a baby on the lap of the drummer in my Mum’s Jazz Band that she ran. Initially, I was encouraged to learn the piano, and for a child who could rarely sit still, when I got to about 8 years old it was decided that I’d rather take up the alto sax and have singing lessons instead.
My introduction to the world of the Theatre started at age 10, when I was picked for the children’s choir in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat at the Adelphi Theatre in the West End. Having been “bitten by the performing bug”, this marked the start of many musical possibilities. I then went on to participate in Bill Kenwright’s touring production of Joseph in the following year, and appeared on Children in Need as part of the Joseph Cast. In 2012, my passion for singing increased when I was in the English National Opera cast of Carmen at the London Coliseum and was swiftly followed by recording Andrew Lloyd Webber’s children’s recording of Cats with The Really Useful Company.
Closer to home, I frequently participated in Music Festivals in Essex, winning classes across the seven years when I competed. In 2015 this lead me to be named Havering Young Musician of the Year, through the annual competition ran by the Rotary. I have also previously been awarded the Jacamar Shield for outstanding performance, having reached the Regional Finals of the Rotary competition. At home, I am a member of Firebirds, a local theatre group, being Cast as Martha in our production of the Secret Garden in 2014, and the Baker’s Wife in our 2016 production of Into the Woods– the latter of the two won many local awards, including “Best Performance by a person aged 18 and under” for my portrayal of the Baker’s Wife.
At my Secondary School and Sixth Form, The Coopers’ Company and Coborn School, I was able to complete my ABRSM Grade 8 for Singing, and also my Music Theatre Diploma. Throughout my years there, I have been fully involved in the music scene, being able to perform with the Symphonic Wind Band at the Mansion House for the new Lord Mayor each year, having travelled to Birmingham for the Music for Youth Finals, and played and sang around Italy in our bi-annual music trip. In my last year at Sixth Form, I was invited to perform at prestigious company events and gigs, including a wedding at the top of the Gherkin in London!
At University, I have been lucky enough to gain a place in the University Chamber Choir (pictured above) which is a huge privilege when you see the other musical talent in the University. Also taking part in Chorus and the Cecilian Choir, my musical diary is always bursting with events and rehearsals. I really love that there are so many wonderful musical opportunities here, and I am extremely excited to see how my musical journey will progress at the University of Kent.
With an heraldic fanfare, we’re delighted to say that our new What’s On season is now available to view online, with a mouth-watering programme of events to see you through to July.
As usual, we’ve performances in the majestic surroundings of Canterbury Cathedral with the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra in Tchaikovsky and Puccini for the annual Colyer-Fergusson concert, and the Chamber Choir and Ensemble will fill the Crypt with Fauré’s evocative Requiem in a new chamber edition. The Concert and Big Bands return in March with a dazzling evening of concert band classics and big band swing, and the Musical Theatre Society is back in action too. CantiaQuorum brings its usual eclectic and innovative approach to programming with a new series of concerts, and our popular Lunchtime Concert series ranges from the shores of Scotland to the heady sensuality of Argentinian tango.
A new collaboration with the School of Biosciences forms the backdrop to a concert bringing together live music with beautiful images from its cutting-edge research, which will also be exhibiting in the Colyer-Fergusson gallery throughout the spring term; and there’s a look ahead to warmer weather and seaside pleasures with events to come during our annual Summer Music Week festival in June.
Take a look at all these events and more on our online page here, and download the new season brochure here. We look forward to welcoming you through the doors of Colyer-Fergusson and to our performances elsewhere over the coming months!
We are delighted that actor Simon Paisley Day will be joining us next week, to read sections of Shakespeare’s Henry V as part of a performance of Walton’s score to the film during our December concert.
Sounding Shakespeare brings the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra together on Saturday 10 December to round off the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard, including music by Mendelssohn, Bernstein and Rutter, and Simon will be taking part in the performance of the film score Walton composed for the famed film of Henry V starting Laurence Olivier, originally written in 1944 and converted into a suite in 1963.
Since leaving the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 1991, Simon has worked extensively in the theatre, on screen and on radio, playing a great number of Shakespearean roles, including Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Horatio in Hamlet at the National Theatre, Iachimo in Cymbeline at Regent’s Park, Timon in Timon of Athens, Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare’s Globe and, most recently, Antony in Antony and Cleopatra at The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Last Christmas he appeared as the Onceler in Dr Seuss’s The Lorax at the Old Vic in London.
Join us on Saturday 10 December for what promises to be an epic odyssey in words and music; details here.
Our Autumn What’s On is now out, and is bursting with events throughout October to December here in Colyer-Fergusson.
Our termly Lunchtime Concert series launches with percussion ensemble Kopanya in October; the acclaimed musicians of the Kentish Piano Trio bring Beethoven’s ‘Ghost’ Trio in November; and eminent sitar-player Ustad Dharambir Singh is joined by Pt Sanju Sahai on tabla for a recital in December,
The University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra will be rounding-off the Shakespeare 400 anniversary in style with a concert including the suite from Walton’s famous film score for Henry V, and the Musical Theatre Society will present their ever-popular showcase. The season ends in rousingly festive style with the Big Band’s Christmas Swing-Along.
Whatever you do, make sure you have Friday 25 November inked firmly in your diary for what promises to be a memorable concert, as internationally-renowned bass, Sir Willard White, joins forces with the Brodsky Quartet to pay tribute to the relationship between Frank Sinatra and the Hollywood String Quartet; the evening will also include folksongs by Britten and Copland, Barber’s evocative Dover Beach, a selection from Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, the Great American Song Book …and much more. Early booking is most definitely advisable! As ever, we also welcome the many visiting musicians to Colyer-Fergusson, including events promoted by both the Canterbury Festival and Sounds New and a birthday concert for Trevor Pinnock.
You can find out more about all these events online here, or download the new brochure here. We look forward to welcoming you to Colyer-Fergusson this season!
The final two days of Summer Music Week witnessed a tremendous flurry of musical activity both in Colyer-Fergusson and beyond, as the week-long music festival celebrating the end of the University year brought staff, students, guests, alumni and members of the local community together.
An intense forty-eight hours of rehearsing and performing began on Friday at lunchtime, with members of the Musical Theatre Society performing on the foyer-stage.
Later the same day, the Cecilian Choir, Sinfonia and soloists filled the church of St Michael and All Angels at Harbledown with a feast of Baroque music, featuring choral works by Vivaldi, Handel and Lully, and instrumental concerti featuring oboists Jonathan Butten and Dan Lloyd from the School of Biosciences, violinists Lydia Cheng (Law) and Claudia Hill (Politics and International Relations), and arias from Charlotte Webb and Ruth Webster (Biosciences – again!). A sultry encore from the Sinfonia took a packed and delighted audience to Argentina for a scintillating rendition of Piazzolla’s Libertango to conclude. And as if they hadn’t done enough playing, members of the Sinfonia provided a little light music during the post-performance reception…
With the end in sight, rehearsals continued first thing on Saturday morning as the Chorus, Symphony Orchestra and Minerva Voices prepared for the final event of the week, the annual Music for a Summer’s Day. Arriving audience-members were treated to a performance by the unstoppably energetic String Sinfonia on the foyer-stage prior to the afternoon gala concert.
The combined forces brought a programme including a zestful medley from My Fair Lady, besuited butlers bearing drinks during music from Downton Abbey, rousing music by Elgar, a Norwegian ballad, final-year Harriet Gunstone as guest soloist in the Champagne Polka, all culminating in a rousing rendition of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ (including an encore conducted by third-year Cory Adams making a rare sortie from the percussion section to the front of the orchestra), and the shedding of a few tears as we all realised that this was, for those who are graduating, their final performance at the University.
The reception afterwards saw performers, audience, family and friends mingling in the marquee, as well as the presentation of the Music Society Awards – a spirited tongue-in-cheek affair with prizes for ‘Most Likely To Be Seen On A Night Out’ and ‘Best Dressed’ among the commendations – and the raiding of sumptuous racks of cakes and scones, as the week drew to a close, whilst Minerva Voices and a jazz group provided some spontaneous musical entertainment.
Summer Music Week higlights all that making music at the University embraces: students making extra-curricular music and friends during the year; students, staff, alumni and the local community coming together on a weekly basis to work together towards termly public performances; the recognition that music-making holds a valuable place in University life in terms of making friends, developing performing and organisational skills, bringing the community together to work towards a public-facing event that represents the University in ambassadorial fashion. Where else might you find a senior Registrar, the director of the Development Office, the head of the International Office, a first-year from Blackpool reading Drama, a second-year from Malaysia reading Law, violinists from Toronto and Zimbabwe, a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics, and local residents combining to let their hair down ?! It’s a terrific whirlygig, a snapshot of all the creativity that thrives both on- and off-campus throughout the course of the year, but it’s also a sad time, as we bid farewell to many who have become a vital part both of the Music department and the wider University during their time at Kent.
To all the leavers, we wish you the very best for the future in Life After Kent; to all those returning (or indeed joining!) us in September; rest assured, we’re now planning for another vibrant, action-packed, stressfull (!), creative, and ultimately rewarding year. To those moving on: we’ll miss you.
The annual musical celebration of the end of the academic year at the University of Kent, Summer Music Week, is set to burst into life next month.
Featuring many of the University’s ensembles, the week-long festival opens at the seaside on Sunday 5 June with the University Big Band, conducted by Ian Swatman, visiting Deal Bandstand. Events throughout the week include a recital by University Music Scholars, a Wednesday evening gala concert with both the Concert and Big Bands, a feast of Baroque music with the Cecilian Choir and Sinfonia at St Michael’s Church, Harbledown,plus various other lunchtime events, all culminating in the traditional Music for a Summmer’s Day on Saturday 11 June with the Chorus, Orchestra and Minerva Voices, followed by cream teas.
The full line-up of events is now live on our website here, and you can follow all the events on the Summer Music Week Twitter feed here: printed brochures are also available in Colyer-Fergusson and the Gulbenkian. Join us as we bid an action-packed musical adieu to another year at Kent!
Because it does. Doesn't it ? Blogging about extra-curricular musical life at the University of Kent.