We’re delighted to have been able to reschedule our postponed Lunchtime Concert from February, to bring music from South India on Wednesday 30 May at 1.10pm.Postgraduate University Music Performance Scholar, Ramnath Venkat Bhagavath is studying for a Masters in Applied Actuarial Science at the University of Kent, and brings a strong performing tradition to the campus. In 2016, Ramnath performed in the renowned ‘Swathi Sangeethotsav’ at the royal palace of Trivandrum, an event which attracts musicians from across the globe.
The Lunchtime Concert, taking place in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, will feature a selection of different ragas and thalas in the Carnatic music tradition, accompanied by violin, mridangam and ghatam.
Congratulations to all the performers in the University String Sinfonia on a lunchtime concert today, delivered with fierce energy and some ravishing colours.
Directed from the violin by Floriane Peycelon, the programme included ebullient dance-rhythms in Warlock’s Capriol Suite, movements from Parry’s An English Suite redolent of the English countryside, and Holst’s St Paul’s Suite, concluding with John Williams’ depiction of Dartmoor before the FIrst World War in an excerpt from War Horse.
The players are back in action next week, when they team up with the University Cecilian Choir in Ola Gjeilo’s popular Sunrise Mass; details here.
It’s amazing what strange but illuminating thought-processes occur when you’re rehearsing…
The Scholars’ Lunchtime Concert in March will be commemorating the centenary of the death of Debussy in a programme of chamber works combined with images from the Impressionist era; one of the works is ‘Serenade of the Doll,’ from Children’s Corner, a suite of piano pieces dedicated to Debussy’s then three-year-old daughter, Claude-Emma (known as Chou-Chou), in an arrangement for violin and piano.
‘Serenade of the Doll’ is a surprisingly moving jewel-like miniature, using the pentatonic scale to evoke the porcelain doll in a sprightly triple-metre. Working in rehearsal with third-year Music Scholar and violinist, Lydia Cheng, we were looking at ways to bring the contrasts to the fore, to explore the lilting waltz-like feel and the delicate staccato passages that give the piece its character. The contrasting textures follow each other quite quickly, and we were examining how much depth of tone was suited to the central section.
At one point, we’d been talking about the way the melodic line seems to nudge itself along, followed by a rising minor third and a sudden octave leap; it’s skittish, ungainly, as though something in the child’s nursery has fallen over.’It’s like a cartoon,’ Lydia observed at one point, ‘you know, where the characters tip-toe down a staircase. It’s a bit like Tom and Jerry!’
So, with this in mind, we played through the entire piece again – and suddenly, it came to life. We realised that the music isn’t always about a rose-tinted recollection of childhood, of a panoply of perfect toys tidily on display in a nursery; sometimes, it can be about the trips and tumbles too, the knocks and tiny accidents, the cheerful blunders that are a part of finding your feet as a toddler. This is reflected both rhythmically as well as in the harmonic language, as it trips lightly from parallel ninths through chromaticism and touches of whole-tonality; it’s finding its own harmonic feet too.
Here’s Debussy himself playing on a piano-roll:
I don’t think anyone has channeled Tom and Jerry in performing Debussy before, but it certainly works. Come along to the performance on Weds 28 March to hear it for yourself…
(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!
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.
As part of the Music department’s observing of the anniversary of World War One, including the Battle of the Somme, three events next week.
On Thursday 10 November, a special performance by the Cecilian Choir, conducted by Your Loyal Correspondent, commemorates the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme with a new choral piece written by American composer David Lang in Studio 3 Gallery. Memorial Ground is an evocative, haunting meditation on the Battle of the Somme, but also reaches beyond it to commemorate all those who have lost their lives in conflict ever since. The piece was commissioned as part of the nationwide 14-18NOW project.
As part of a national series of performances, Memorial Ground is the Pulitzer-prize-winning composer’s response to the anniversary, written in such a way as to allow choirs around the country to realise the piece in whatever way is appropriate to their occasion. For this performance by the Cecilian Choir, the piece will be combined with words by the First World War poet, Siegfried Sassoon, as well as with a new poem written by Nancy Gaffield, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in the School of English. The performance will be illuminated by a series of projections from the Special Collections and Archives department in the Templeman Library, curated by Joanna Baines. This sepcially-crafted son et lumiere event begins at 1.10pm, and will last approximately twenty minutes; admission is free – if you can’t make it, the event will be streamed live online here.
On Friday 11 November at 11am, third-year Music Scholar and trumpeter Alex Reid will play the Last Post in the Registry Garden; this is followed at 1.10pm by a lunchtime concert focusing on poet and composer Ivor Gurney. Arranged by Dr Kate Kennedy, the event dramatizes Gurney’s life as musician, soldier and eventually asylum patient, following his progress in his own words and music, with humour and poignancy.
From the start of next week, Colyer-Fergusson Gallery will host an exhibition produced by the Gateways to the First World WarProject exploring music during the conflict, which will be on display until Friday 25 November.
Find out about all these events and more online here.
The second in our Lunchtime Concert series next week sees the Kentish Piano Trio performing music by Beethoven and Suk, including (appropriately enough for a blog feature today…) Beethoven’s ‘Ghost’ Trio.
Violinist Kathy Shave, cellist Julia Vorhalik and pianist Helen Crayford, three outstanding professional musicians based in Kent, formed the ensemble in order to champion both traditional and contemporary works for piano trio, and have commissioned works as well as explored the catalogue of works for the enduringly popular line-up.
The concert takes place on Weds 9 November at 1.10pm in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, admission is free, donations welcome. To whet your appetite, here’s the trio on spooky form in the slow movement of the ‘Ghost’ Trio…
Because it does. Doesn't it ? Blogging about extra-curricular musical life at the University of Kent.