After a lengthy absence, it was good to be back in the richly-resonant acoustic of Studio 3 Gallery, the University’s art gallery, for a performance by the String Sinfonia yesterday.
The #EarBoxseries of events bringing music and visual art together returned with a programme relating to Le piazze [In}visibili, an exhibition of photographs documenting empty Italian piazzi during the first lockdown in 2020, when normally vibrant social spaces became suddenly silent.
The ensemble’s opening piece, the Chacony by Purcell, took on a greater emotional significance as it rang out against the backdrop of the images, Purcell’s aching dissonances assuming more of an impact. Vivaldi’s Spring picked up on the Italian connection, and in a wonderful moment of serendipity, birdsong in the spring afternoon outside the gallery could be heard in between the movements. Music Scholars Jeni Pang, Alice Nixon and Kammy Pike each took a movement.
Matt Brown’s Solitude at Dusk had one or two ravishing chords, and the performance ended with the weighty Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis, whose main melody (When rising from the bed of death) somehow again took on different overtones in light of the photographic evidence of the impact of the pandemic which surrounded the audience.
Congratulations to the students, and to its director, Floriane Peycelon. #Earbox will return to Studio 3 Gallery again in the future…
Images of empty Italian piazzi find echo in music for string orchestra, including John Woolrich’s Ulysses Wakes, as the #EarBox series bringing music and images together returns to Studio 3 Gallery with the University String Sinfonia on Weds 23 March at 1.10pm.
Woolrich’s piece is a transcription of Ulysses’ first aria in Monteverdi’s opera Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, first performed in 1640. Washed up on the coast of Ithaca, Ulysses wakes on the shores and asks ‘Am I sleeping or awake? / And what country surrounds me?’ as he fails at first to recognise his home. In Woolrich’s reimagining, Ulysses’ questioning aria is sung not by a voice, but by the darker-hued tones of a solo viola, played here by Music Performance Scholar, Kira Hilton.
The programme will also include Purcell’s Chacony and Vaughan Williams’ reflective Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis. as well as Vivaldi’s vivacious ‘Spring’ from The Four Seasons.
The concert is set against the backdrop of the gallery’s current exhibition Le Piazze [In]visibili – Invisible Squares, which was created during the early days of lockdown in Italy in 2020, and reflects the desolate emptiness of town squares which traditionally throng with residents and tourists, but which suddenly became empty like so many social spaces around the entire world.
The performance on Thursday 14 June is one of two concerts in which the group will be playing, and takes place against the backdrop of the gallery’s new exhibition, which explores the physical and psychological effect of nature for humans and animals, and the intersection of human and arboreal timelines. The exhibition includes two- and three-dimensional works and installations; Refuge by Karen Miranda Abel, Anna Williams’ Canada House and Mother Trees of Future Forests by Lisa Hirmer.
Classical Connections will illuminate the exhibition’s central themes of water, surface, liminal spaces and spatial relationships, and the passage from nature to culture with a pastorally-themed musical programme, complete with birdsong, including works by Elgar, Holst, Warlock, Dvořák and John Williams. The programme, like the players, crosses continents to animate the gallery and resonate amongst the various media on display, setting them amidst an aural backdrop that invites the audience to experience both the art-work and the music in a new way.
The Director of the ensemble, Floriane Peycelon (pictured) – a freelance violinist, performer and teacher who also leads the Folkestone Symphony Orchestra – is particularly looking forward to the event; “It’s a terrific thing for the students,” she enthuses, “giving them the wonderful opportunity to take their music-making abroad and showcase the prolific talent amongst the string-players at Kent – and they are not even reading Music as a degree! The chance to play at an art gallery is very exciting – I love finding unusual spaces in which to perform.’’
The ten players will perform in the evening concert in the gallery followed by a reception and a tour of the exhibition; the group then travels to Scarborough Citadel on the Saturday to play as part of the closing Gala Concert of the Chinese Artists of the Society of Toronto, alongside the CAST Philomusica Orchestra and soloists.
The String Sinfonia is part of the vibrant extra-curricular musical life of the University of Kent, and brings together students from a range of degree programmes including Law, Psychology, Mathematics, Politics and International Relations and Economics to rehearse and perform throughout the year. The ensemble regularly performs in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, in Studio 3 Gallery and in concerts off-campus.
The Varley Art Gallery opened in 1997, and welcomes around 45,000 visitors annually, a preeminent cultural institution reaching audiences both nationally and internationally. This is the first time that the University Music department will travel to perform in Canada, and we’re very much looking forward to beginning our trip with a special event at the gallery. We are also very grateful to the gallery’s Public Programs Coordinator, Rachel D’Oliveira Fell, for the invitation to perform.
Find out more about the Classical Connections event online here – and if you’re in the area, book yourself a ticket!
Many congratulations to the University Chamber Choir, which Friday performed at two very different events on the same day.
The lunchtime concert in Studio 3 Gallery saw the Choir fill the resonant space against the backdrop of the gallery’s latest exhibition, ‘The Ash Archive,’ to an audience that just kept on arriving – never have so many chairs been called for! Thanks to Rose Thompson, the gallery’s co-ordinator, for helping to bring the event together.
Later that evening, the Choir travelled out to the village of Hernhill, to sing at the church’s Breathing Space event, a sequence of music and silence by candlelight that afforded an hour-long period of tranquility, calm and reflection. Our thanks to Reverend Paulette Stubbings for making the Choir so welcome, we hope to return to St Michael’s in May – watch this space…
The Chamber Choir is back in action this Friday when it performs in the Eastern Crypt of Canterbury Cathedral, in a programme including Pergolesi’s vivid Stabat Mater.
Photos from last month’s concert given by the String Sinfonia in Studio 3 Gallery as part of the #EarBox series exploring live music and visual art. The concert included third-year Music Scholar, violinist Lydia Cheng, as soloist in Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ from The Four Seasons.
As usual, there’s a steady crescendo of events leading up to the end of the Christmas term; on Monday night, the University Chamber Choir performed amidst the candle-lit hush of Canterbury Cathedral as part of the University Carol Service.
Second-year Matthew Cooke made his conducting debut with In Dulci Jubilo, and other carols the Choir sang included Russell Hepplewhite’s Star of the East, fresh from having performed it live on BBC Radio 4 last week.
On Tuesday, the String Sinfonia gave a seasonal concert amidst the current exhibition in Studio 3 Gallery as part of the continuing #EarBox series, in a programme that included Corelli’s Christmas Concerto.
Final-year student Lydia Cheng was the featured soloist in a dynamic, energy-filled performance of ‘Winter’ from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
And there’s no respite, as the Big Band prepares for its annual Christmas Swingalong in a few hours’ time, the final event in our Christmas hamper…
The #EarBox series exploring the meeting point of visual art and music returns to Studio 3 Gallery in December, as the String Sinfonia performs amidst the gallery’s current exhibition, Capturing Movement.Curated by MA Curating students, Capturing Movement explores how artists have transformed contemporary dance into inspiring representations in sculpture, painting and photography. For the #EarBox event on Tuesday 12 December, the musicians of the String Sinfonia, directed by Floriane Peycelon, will bring a programme including music by Vivaldi, Corelli and Peter Warlock. With dance rhythms lying at the heart of much of the music from the Baroque, as well as Warlock’s Renaissance-dance inspired Capriol Suite, it will be fascinating to explore the synergy between the live music and the exhibited moments of dance frozen in time…
The concert starts at 5.15pm and will last approximately 45 minutes; admission is free, the audience is welcome to sit among the exhibits or view the exhibition whilst the performance is underway, and leave as they wish. More details online here.
The #EarBox concert series bringing music and visual art together continues with a visit to Studio 3 Gallery from the University Chamber Choir on Friday 24 February at 1.10pm.
Set against the backdrop of Soft Formalities, the gallery’s new exhibition, the Chamber Choir will unveil a choral programme in the venue’s sonorous acoustic, ranging from Purcell to Alec Roth, taking in madrigals by Hassler and Lassus, and works by Tavener, Peter Warlock and Alexander Campkin.
The new exhibition explores layered complexity in a series of paintings, drawings, sculptures and ceramics, and the music provides a similar, sonic exploration in line and colour, from the drama of Purcell to the ravishing hues of Alexander Campkin, including the dramatic simplicity of Tavener’s The Lamb and a veritable textural tour de force for double choir in Lithuanian. There is also a rare opportunity to hear a piece by the Canadian female composer, Jean Coulthard.
The event is free, and starts at 1.10pm; come and experience the gallery’s latest display with an astonishing aural landscape from the Baroque to the contemporary. Find out more about the event here, and read more about Soft Formalities at the gallery here.
Because it does. Doesn't it ? Blogging about extra-curricular musical life at the University of Kent.