With a programme to include Mozart, Gregson, Godard, Bach as well as a selection of jazz standards, this year’s Scholars’ Festival Lunchtime Concert is going to be a wholesome musical treat. The renowned Canterbury Interntional Festival is currently in full swing, and this year’s recital promises to add a lively and diverse element to the diary.
Featuring Music Scholarship students from various departments including Architecture, Drama, History and Politics, the performers are illustrative of the all-embracing nature of the University’s Music Department, and a tribute to the high standard of music-making that it fosters.
Yours truly will, as usual, be the recital accompanist this year, and there’s an added bonus in the form of clarinet teacher, Big Band and Concert Band conductor and all-round whizz Ian Swatman, who will be playing as part of a clarinet trio. There’ll be an aria from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro, French flute repertoire by Benjamin Godard, part of the Gregson Tuba Concerto, as well as jazz tunes including A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square and Blue Bossa.
The Festival Club, St. Alphege Lane, Canterbury; 1pm; admission free. Further details on our on-line events calendar here. Bring along a lunch and a coffee, and relax whilst we entertain you. Don’t miss it.
An occasional series featuring guest posts and contributions: this week, Drama student and saxophonist Will Rathbone reviews Kasai Masai’s lunchtime concert.
Kasai Masai are a 5-piece band based in London and led by Nickens Nkoso. Named after a region in Congo, their sound is a very authentic African one, full of infectious rhythms and driving guitar hooks.
Playing at the Gulbenkien Theatre as part of the Lunchtime Concert series last Monday, they opened their set with “Esale”, a piece with a gentle Bossa Nova feel to it, and it immediately had the audience tapping and nodding along. Throughout the set, as I looked around the auditorium, everyone was bobbing their head, caught up in the effortless groove that the band had. Nickens’ voice is a powerful one, at one point during the song he held a very long note, leaning away from the microphone so as not to deafen us; such was the power he could get from his voice.
They continued with “Omela”, a song about a boy who gets lost in the forest but meets a bear who helps him to get home. This song was more upbeat and featured a catchy chorus. Every member of the band was continually moving the beat, the bass and drums pushing, the djembe a constant pulse. It showed the life in their songs, with Kawele Mutimanwa’s beautifully clean guitar sound throwing out riff after riff while the tenor sax floated solos over it all.
With both “Jambo” and “Muana Muke”, the audience got involved. We were given a vocal line to sing and encouraged to clap along and join the music. I’m often not a fan of rhythmic clapping from an audience, as it can often drift in and out of time, however here, such was the strength of the groove, and the tightness of the band, that the claps stayed in time, and the audience sang.
“We call this music, happy music”, said Nickens. I couldn’t put it better myself. Watching him dance for the finale, everyone was grinning. A really great show.
This year, the University presented another eclectic range of music in its annual Lunchtime Concert series, with enthusiastic audiences averaging around two hundred for each performance in the Gulbenkian Theatre.
Mambo Jambo – October
The series was launched in style by Mambo Jambo, a two-piece group who between them played more instruments that you would have thought possible. Using all acoustic instruments and drawing on musical styles from around the world, their repertoire included music from Latin America, Africa, Brazil and bluegrass.
The English Muse – November
In contrast, the second concert explored Baroque music from Purcell to Handel with a trio of renowned early music performers: Terence Charleston (harpsichord), Anna Crookes (soprano) and Penelope Spencer (violin). The programme included Purcell’s Sound The Trumpet and a Handel cantata of outrageous musical inventiveness.
Carnival of the Animals – November
The influence of the Darwin centenary celebrations was apparent in the last lunchtime concert of the Autumn term, a performance of Saint-Saens’ enduringly popular Carnival of the Animals by the University Camerata. Playing to a packed theatre, the ensemble featured musical staff of the University, ranging from a Deputy Vice-Chancellor to the Director of the Unit for the Enhancement of Teaching and Learning, as well as various visiting music teachers. The concert was a part of the University-wide Darwin celebrations, and even featured a guest appearance by Darwin himself, who bore a rather uncanny resemblence to the Drama department’s Dr. Olly Double…
which included several of the visiting Music Department staff. An enthusiastic audience were treated to a vivacious mixture of songs from the 1940’s to combat ‘Blue Monday’s’ blues. Saxophonist and singer Peter Cook didn’t allow himself to be incovenienced by a cold, as he had handily brought a megaphone for that authentic sound. Some solid support from sousaphone player Steve Wassall was matched by some light-footed improvisation from Ian Swatman.
Gofannon Brass – March
The concert series was brought to a close in heraldic fashion by Gofannon Brass, founded by trumpeter and visiting teacher Alex Caldon. The five-piece ensemble comprises players from major London orchestras and West End theatre productions. The group is named after the ancient Celtic god of metal-workers who, with all the fine brass instruments on display, must surely have been delighted.
As ever, our thanks to the firm of Furley Page Solicitors, who generously continue to sponsor the Lunchtime Concert series and allow the University to bring such an array of professional talent into the community.