Tag Archives: Concert Band

Music for a Summer’s Day: Sunday 10 June

The annual Music Society concert, Music for a Summer’s Day, is now just ten days away, and it promises to be the usual roof-raising summation of both Summer Music next week, as well as of another fine year of music-making at the University.

Bringing together the University Concert Band, Chorus, Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir, the programme includes the finale of Mozart’s popular Clarinet Concerto, with Music Scholar Sarah Davies as soloist; there’ll be film music from the Concert Band, a choral medley from My Fair Lady from the Chorus, pieces from the Chamber Choir (we’re sworn to secrecy about one of them!), Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture from the Orchestra, plus some popular favourites from Johann Strauss and Elgar – and a few surprises as well. There’ll even be balloons…

The occasion will be capped by cream teas (included in the price of tickets) in a marquee overlooking the slopes towards the city, with commanding views of the Cathedral on what we hope will be a fine summer afternoon.

Details about all the events in Summer Music online here, plus details of tickets for the Sunday concert.

To whet your appetites, here’s the spritely Mozart: perfect for a summer’s day.

Scholars Spotlight: Tim Pickering

A new feature, profiling this year’s new crop of University Music Scholars: this week, saxophonist Tim Pickering.


My name is Tim Pickering and I come from Littlehampton in West Sussex, and I am studying for a BSc in Forensic Chemistry. I studied at the Littlehampton Community School, and then took A-Levels at the 6th Form there (although for some reason, not in music!) I have been playing the alto saxophone eleven years, and have recently picked up the tenor saxophone as my primary instrument. I hold ABRSM Grade 7 on Alto Sax, and I am currently working towards Grade 8 on the Tenor.

I have played with many different groups and set ups – from quintets,  pop bands and the local ‘Littlehampton Concert Band’ through to a seventeen-piece big band I assembled with the help of a few friends.

My school never really had a great music department; in fact when I joined, the ‘orchestra’ consisted of myself on alto sax, a flute and two violins! It did improve gradually, and one of the music teachers Steve Winter (a veteran himself of the UKC Big Band and Concert Band) got a small jazz group off the ground, which was great as it got some musicians in the music department some much-needed gigs! Although when the new head of music arrived in my second year, classical music lost the emphasis and steel pans became all the rage (much to the other musicians’ disgust!). Our school wasn’t involved in the county music side of things either, so this meant if I wanted playing opportunities in larger groups, I had to create them myself!

I am currently working on putting together and rehearsing a quintet here at Canterbury, with the aim of tackling styles from straight ahead jazz to rhythm and blues, and maybe even some classic rock ‘n’ roll. I’m looking forward to hopefully performing at some of the Jazz @5 sessions , and generally what music here brings for me! I am also playing first Tenor Sax in the Concert Band and Big Band. However, I still would like to play more, so if anyone is looking for a sax player for their band…

I feel I have been very privileged in being picked as a music scholar here at Canterbury, and the musical side of life is fantastic – in fact it was the music department that really swayed my decision to apply here! To go from playing in small jazz quintets and the very occasional Big-Band get together, to rehearsing solidly once a week with decent gigs booked is an exciting change for me! I really want to use my time at university to push myself to be the best sax player I can possibly be, and I hope with the scholarship and the help of my teacher Peter Cook, I hope I can continue to progress.

Big Band and Concert Band will take it Nice ‘n’ Easy next Friday

There’s now just one week to go until the annual roof-raiser at the Gulbenkian with the University Concert and Big Bands, on Friday 10 February.

Kent's First Lady of Jazz: Ruby Mutlow

Starring in the concert will be second-year Music Scholar and jazz singer Ruby Mutlow, who’ll be familiar to those of us who went to the concert this time last year, as well as to those who chilled out at various Jazz @ 5 sessions, and the Big Band Gala in the summer term. Possessing a characterful and wonderfully graceful voice, Ruby will be joining the Big Band for a selection of vocal pieces.

In the first half, amongst other pieces, the Concert Band will explore selections from Wicked,whilst music in the second half from the Big Band will include Duke Ellington.

Conductor Ian Swatman is his usual unflappable self so close to the gig, and he’s looking forward to his usual banter with the audience, perhaps the occasional reference to a certain Northern football club whose fortunes lie close to Ian’s heart, and maybe one or two surprises as well.

The concert starts at 7.30pm, and there’ll be live music in the Gulbenkian Foyer from 6pm with a selection of a cappella vocal groups and instrumental jazz.

Details online here: tickets are disappearing fast!


New concert diary now online

Looking at the new concert diary over the next four months, I think it’s fair to say this is one of the busiest I’ve seen here at the University.

Big bandEvents kick off in a few week’s time with the award-winning St James Quintet opening the Lunchtime Concert series for the term with an eclectic programme for wind quintet. February begins with a bang as the Concert and Big Bands storm back to the Gulbenkian in ‘Nice ‘n’ Easy,’ with a selection including classic Duke Ellington and pieces fromWicked, to name but a few; the Chamber Choir will take you on an evocative journey ‘From Morn to Midnight‘ in the intimacy of Canterbury Cathedral Crypt towards the end of the month.

March promises to be an epic month; there’s the glory of the Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert as the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra unite in Haydn’s Creation; student and staff musicians in Jazz @ 5; the exciting prospect of Korngold’s lyrical second string quartet with the Brodskys; exoticism from the Bamboo and Silk Ensemble; not one – not two – but three bands as the Concert and Big Bands team up with St. Edmund’s School for Big Bands3, before the term finishes with a valedictory lunchtime concert at St Peter’s Church in Canterbury from the newly-founded University Mistral Ensemble and the Chamber Choir.


Click here to view online, and get the dates in your diaries now, or download a copy of the brochure as a PDF. Something for everyone…

A busy week ahead…

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).

Further details about both events in the on-line calendar here.

And then there’s four events next week: more details to come… Keep up!

Clash of the Titans: Big Bands 3!

Brace yourselves: next week, not one, not two, but THREE bands collide (musically speaking!), as the University’s Concert and Big Bands team up with St. Edmund’s School Big Band for Big Bands 3.

The event is in aid of The Lady Mayoress’ charities, and promises to be a lively event. The first of its kind, conductor Ian Swatman is looking forward to the event (when he can tear himself away from following the fortunes of Hull City, that is…!)

“It’s going to be a great night, and a chance for University staff and students and some of the pupils of St. Edmund’s School to play together,” Ian remarks as he ponders The Tigers’ current form, currently in ninth position in the table, having won two out of their past three matches.  ”Plus it’s all in support of a worthy cause, and all for a mere five pounds: great music, great players, and a great cause: who can resist ?!”

Kicking off at 7.30pm in St. Edmund’s School Hall, it’ll be an action-packed night: tickets are selling fast, make sure you get yours! Further details on-line here.

See you there!

Emotion on tap: the appeal of film music.

Whilst listening to the University Concert Band performing a suite from the score to the film Gladiator at a recent concert, I was struck anew by the allure that film music has for me. On browsing through my array of CDs later on, I realised that a large part of my listening library is devoted to film scores, from the spooky Classicism of Hannibal to the robust menace of Gladiator and Jurassic Park, the ethereal mystery of Solaris or the innocent jollity of Amelie.

What is it about film music that appeals ? On reflection, I suspect it might be the immediacy of the emotion it conjures, the instant creation of a mood or effect. Unlike traditional classical music, film scores don’t rely on musical form and architecture in the same way as, say, a symphony or a piano sonata. Film music, at least non-diagetic film music, is used because a director wants to enhance the emotion of a particular scene, and the music has to respond immediately. There is no room for traditional forms such as sonata form – exposition, development, recapitulation – which is all about presenting ideas, developing them, setting up tonal or harmonic relationships, and then providing a resolution in a coda. Think of the menace of the creeping semi-tone in Jaws, or the shrieking strings in Bernard Hermann’s music to Psycho: the effect is immediate.

Of course, diagetic music can do this as well: I’m thinking of that scene in Riidley Scott’s beautiful Hannibal, where the sound of the theme from Bach’s glorious Goldberg Variations seeps into the soundtrack, and the camera tracks across the room to reveal Lecter himself playing the piece as he muses on the letter he has just written to Starling. The piece is a favourite of Lecter’s, as we know from The Silence of the Lambs when he plays it on a tape-recorder in the prison-cage. The beauty of Bach’s melody stands in stark contrast to the environment in which it appears: Lecter’s private residence, or the cage-prison, and the figure of Lecter himself. (This video of Gould performing the Aria uncannily mirrors something of the tracking effect Scott uses in the film: I wonder if he’d seen it ?).

So what film music looms large in your library, and why ?

(Audio excerpts from preview tracks at LastFM).