Tag Archives: General Harding’s Tomfoolery

Summer Music Week: Days One and Two

Our annual Summer Music Week festival launched in fine style over the weekend, as the Big Band headed to the seaside to perform on the Memorial Bandstand at Deal.

Big Band at the Beach!

Blue skies, clear weather and a great crowd greeted the players under the baton of Ian Swatman, with audience scattered on the greensward around the bandstand in deck-chairs and sun-hats.

Summertime and the livin’ is easy…

Day Two yesterday carried on the jazz theme, as General Harding’s Tomfoolery filled Colyer-Fergusson Hall with swing music from the 30s, 40s and 50s in Five O’Clock Stomp. The thirteen-piece dance orchestra were joined by The Minervettes, and unveiled an energy-filled programme of popular favourites including The Charleston, Puttin’ On The Ritz and classic Glenn Miller tunes.

Today, Day Three, sees a Lunchtime Recital by University Music Scholars in music by Piazzolla, Joseph Horovitz and Sonny Rollins at 1.10pm, followed by the presentation of the annual Music Prizes. Summer Music Week continues until Saturday; details here.

Tomfoolery play for Sibson launch

Yesterday afternoon saw the launch of the Sibson Building, the University’s newest addition to the Canterbury campus, and the joint new home shared by Kent Business School and the School of Maths and Actuarial Sciences. The musicians of General Harding’s Tomfoolery were in action for the second time in less than a week, entertaining the guests at the reception held before the unveiling of the plaque formally to open the new facility.

A great afternoon for everyone involved; the players particularly enjoyed themselves, channeling their inner Blues Brothers whilst playing some vintage jazz for the assembled guests. Tomfoolery will be back in action on Monday 5 June in Five O’Clock Stomp in Colyer-Fergusson Hall as part of Summer Music Week; admission is free, details here.

Well-met by Moonlight: vintage jazz next week

Fresh from the success of its lunchtime concert last term which had people on their feet dancing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, General Harding’s Tomfoolery, the vintage jazz orchestra, is back in action next Friday night.

The 1930’s style dance band will unveil a whole new repertoire on Friday 19 May, as well as favourites from its previous gigs; together with the close-harmony singers, The Minervettes, the players will unveil an evening of vintage swing classics alongside forgotten gems from the Golden Age of Dance Bands in Moonlight Serenade: an evening with GHT.

The ensemble has continued to delve deeply into the treasure-trove of archive repertoire that was bequeathed to the music department back in 2005 by the Ken Lewis Dance Orchestra, a dance band active throughout the South East from the 1950s to the 1970s. Original band-parts crackle with renewed vigour as tunes such as The ContinentalOn The Street Where You Live and Pennsylvania 6-5000 dance off the music-stand in rehearsals, alongside tunes from slightly off the beaten path, such as Button Up Your Overcoat and Zambezi. And of course, Glenn Miller’s signature tune, Moonlight Serenade, will be a part of the programme that night too…

Tickets are only £5 a pop for what promises to be an energetic trip to a bygone era – dancing-shoes are essential, cloche hats optional! Find out more here.

Image Gallery: A Feelin’ You’re Foolin’ with General Harding’s Tomfoolery

(Straw) hats off to the member of General Harding’s Tomfoolery and the Minervettes, for their recent, storming lunchtime concert in Colyer-Fergusson Hall. The thirteen-piece dance orchestra, performing from original sheet-music from the 1930s, 40s and 50s delivered an energetic performance that had people dancing along.

We were particularly delighted to welcome to the gig Maureen Morgan, wife of bandleader and founder of the Ken Lewis Dance Orchestra, George Morgan, whose generous bequest of all the sheet music from the original dance orchestra allows us to breath new life into the original band-parts.

Tomfoolery will be back in action on Friday 19 May in an evening performance; bring your dancing-shoes!

Images © Kester Campbell / University of Kent

Final week of seasonal music-making

It’s been a busy week here in the Music department, with the final musical events bringing the term to a rousing seasonal finale.

On Tuesday, the Chamber Choir, conducted by Your Loyal Correspondent,  performed as part of the University Carol Service in Canterbury Cathedral – always a magical occasion, which starts with the entire Cathedral being plunged into darkness, and the notes of the choir’s first carol rising to the dark recesses of vaulted roof above a sea of candles. Second-year Doug Haycock made his conducting debut with Tavener’s The Lamb, opening the service in evocative fashion.

img_1138fullsizerenderWednesday afternoon saw General Harding’s Tomfoolery, the vintage dance-band, taking to the foyer-stage in a spirited selection of swing classics, for which they were joined by The Minervettes; trombonist and singer, post-grad Rob Cliff was a smooth host, and both band and singers were in fine form in pieces including American PatrolPuttin’ On The Ritz and Sleigh Ride.

The final event in this term’s musical calendar was yesterday evening’s ebullient Christmas Swingalong with the Big Band, directed by Ian Swatman, which saw first-years Dottie Grenville and Alicia O’Malley making their singing debut with the band. Feisty incarnations of familiar pieces including A Chilli Pepper Christmas, audience carols with the brass ensemble and the traditional, inimitable rendition of Santa, Baby by our very own Sophie Meikle culminated in a sing-along I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day, before audience and performers alike spilled out into the foyer for mulled wine and mince pies.

img_1145 img_1149It’s been a terrific term, full of music-making; thanks to both everyone who has performed throughout the term, as well as to those who have been amongst the audiences. We’ll be back in the New Year with full details of our spring / summer season; from all the Music team here, we wish you all a happy and peaceful Christmas!

More Tomfoolery as the jazz band returns

Cometh the hour, cometh the jazz musicians: the stars have aligned, and this year the twelve-piece dance band, General Harding’s Tomfoolery, is back in action.

02-first-rehearsal-newThe group was originally formed in 2013 to breathe new life into a set of dance-band musictomfoolery_2013 originally bequeathed to the Music department by the Ken Lewis Dance Orchestra. The original folders of music contain vintage original copies of pieces from the 1930s through to the 1950s, including swing classics such as Tuxedo Junction and American Patrol, brittle with age and with faded Sellotape sometimes holding the fragile pages together. The group gigged throughout the year, including a memorable afternoon which had Colyer-Fergusson Hall filled with people dancing along.

tomfoolery_sheetmusicThe band has returned with faces both old and new, bringing together undergraduate and postgraduate musicians from a variety of subjects from both the Canterbury and Medway campuses, and is busy rehearsing for its first gig on the foyer-stage next month, Weds 14 December. We had a mock-up yesterday – leaving space for a drum-kit, not one but TWO bassists, and a couple of additional brass instruments – to check we can all fit on the stage. Who knows…

tomfoolery_stagechecktomfoolery_logoBring your dancing-shoes on Weds 14 December at 1.10pm, when Tomfoolery will play a festively swinging set to get people In The Mood for the Big Band’s seasonal favourite, the Christmas Swing-along, at 5.15pm later in the day. More details here.

One Last Dance: General Harding’s Tomfoolery at the Gulbenkian

Although Summer Music Week was over, we couldn’t let the opportunity for one final event to pass us by, and for the Dance Orchestra to have one final farewell. On the last day of term, General Harding’s Tomfoolery gathered on the cabaret-stage in the Gulbenkian Cafe to bid a fleet-footed farewell not just to the term, but to the academic year – and to an industrious few weeks of performing! (Was it really only on 31 May that the band won Keynestock and embarked on its six-gigs-in-twenty-one-days spree ?!)

Our usual bass-player was away that day – a tip o’ the straw hat to Jenn Morgan who stepped up to play, and performed as though she’d been a part of the band for ages.

Thanks to the Gulbenkian for hosting us, and to everyone who has been a part of the group this year.

Image Gallery: Summer Music Week: General Harding’s Tomfoolery

Thanks to Matt Wilson for these stunning photos of General Harding’s Tomfoolery inspiring the audience to dance on the Wednesday of Summer Music Week. Comprising student musicians and run by your loyal correspondent, this vibrant  twelve-piece dance orchestra rekindled the spirit of the 1930s, and members of the audience were inspired to leap to their feet during classic tunes such as In The Mood and Minnie the Moocher.

The group performs from original 1930s sheet music, a bequest to the department some years ago from the Ken Lewis Dance Orchestra; the archive of pieces, still tied with original string, brittle with age and use, is an astonishing memento of the era – it’s fantastic to be breathing new life into these venerable instrumental parts.

See all the images from Summer Music Week on our Pinterest board here.

Images © Matt Wilson / University of Kent