If last year’s brochure was mouth-watering, then the new one is even more so.
Celebrating ten years of sponsorship with Furley Page Solicitors, the new Lunchtime Concert series includes a trombone quartet, a return visit from Benjamin Frith to perform the solo piano version of Mussorgsky’s epic ‘Pictures at an Exhibition,’ and the University Camerata in some seasonal shivering in December.
The University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra bring Finzi, Parry, and Ravel’s orchestration of the Mussorgsky to Eliot Hall in December, whilst the Chamber Choir will welcome the Advent season in a sequence of music and readings at the Church of St. Cosmus and Damian in Blean.
Some of the Music Scholars will be giving a lunchtime concert as part of the Canterbury Festival, and the annual Children in Need ‘Sing for Pudsey’ this year takes place in the Gulbenkian Theatre. The term finishes in December seasonal style with ‘Carols around the Tree’ – weather-permitting! There’s also a look ahead to some of the events in the spring term.
Simply writing a review of last year’s musical activities here at the University has made me realise what a terrifically versatile, extra-curricular department we have: everything from formal classical Cathedral concerts (too much alliteration ?!) to informal jazz gigs, music theatre productions, Scholars’ recitals, and far too many other activities to mention here. Students, staff, alumni, members of the local community, visiting professional players – all contributing to a rich and varied aspect of the University’s cultural life, and creating a vibrant social side to everything that goes on here.
Including some fine photographs courtesy of Mick Norman, here’s the review of last year; and if you think that’s good, wait until you see what’s lined up for this year when the Autumn brochure is published shortly…
It’s that time of year again: the University Open Day, when we’ll be at the ‘Making Music at Kent’ stand for all your enquiries about musical activities at Kent, as well as information on music scholarships and how to apply.
And as we’re hi-tech hip over here, we’ll be blogging live from tomorrow morning again, as we did last year. We’ll be in front of the stand emblazoned with spectacular images of our music-making over recent years, and you can come and collect a copy of this year’s brochure to discover what happens musically during the year. From choirs to jazz bands, orchestras to rock bands and madrigal consorts to music theatre, we’ve got something for everyone.
If you’re coming to the University Open Day tomorrow, we’ll see you there!
Last Friday, we heard the interior of the proposed Colyer-Fergusson centre for Music Performance.
Not literally, alas: but virtually. Rising with the lark (actually, before the lark: I had to shoo him out of bed), and then up to London to meet with project members from the University and representatives of Tim Ronalds Architects and Carr and Angier Theatre Consultants at the London offices of Arup Acoustics, where acousticians were modelling the sonic interior of the building.
Sitting in the centre of a small sound-booth, we were presented with various ensembles – orchestra, choir, string quartet, brass ensemble, solo singer and continuo – recorded anechoically, and then heard their performances realised in a virtual sonic model of the new building’s interior.
The great strength of the proposed building is that it is a flexible performance space. It will be able to change in order to accommodate a diverse range of performing ensembles, from full symphony orchestra and chorus to chamber choirs, big bands, string and brass ensembles., We explored the various permutations of the variable acoustics – fully reverberant, then with varying degrees of the acoustic drapes being set to render the acoustic gradually less reverberant – with different ensemble set-ups, and assessed the differening impacts of the acoustic settings on each.
Potentially, the sonic space created by the hall, and the varying acoustic properties offered by the variable acoustics, are fantastic, and afford a wide array of opportunities for ensemble music-making, ranging from the large scale to the intimate, each with a suitable (almost bespoke) acoustic environment. The nature of the reverberation within the hall will be able to be altered to suit the different types of rehearsing and performing, tailored to meet the demands of the varying ensembles using the space.
It is unquestionably a fantastic space for music-making, and we are highly excited. We’ll keep you posted as further developments unfold: keep your ear to the ground.
As this blog gets underway, it seems useful to begin by reflecting on what it is about collective music-making that is so crucial both to members of the University community, as well as to the human experience in general.
The larger musical activities that occur on campus here – Chorus, Orchestra, Concert Band and Big Band – are events at which people from different aspects of the university’s community can participate on an equal footing: an English professor sits next to a first-year undergraduate reading Maths; a member of the IT department rehearses with a final-year Drama student; or a departmental administrator sings alongside a postgraduate student reading Law. The opportunity to rub shoulders with, and participate alongside, others from the same community is a great leveller, and also widens one’s social circle. The sense of a collective discipline – attending regularly, rehearsing, performing – shared by so many, whatever their occupation or background, and often one that is outside of one’s profession, gives communal music-making its great appeal.
For a short time, whether in rehearsals at the end of the day, or during a performance in Canterbury Cathedral, everyone achieves the same goal as a result of sharing the same rehearsal and performance experience that led up to it. What you do during the day makes no difference: you are in the same boat as all the other performers around you, striving to create a musical event that will move both yourselves and the audience, working as part of a larger team. For those working in an office or at a quiet table in the library the rest of the day, these moments offer a chance to get away from the solitary and join in with a communal activity – often creating a lot of noise!
Apart from solo practice and recitals, music is inherently a social activity: it demands that people work together, share the same experience, support one another: perhaps most importantly, that they make mistakes together in an environment where mistakes are expected and assistance is offered in rectifying them (at least, in early rehearsals!). Few other undertakings offer so supportive an environment in which to work. And events such as WorldFest are a celebration of this, of the collective community coming together to celebrate its unity in working and performing.
I sat in the midst of the Chorus on Sunday’s rehearsal, bolstering the tenors (who this term really don’t need any support – how often can one say that about a tenor section ?!) – and was immersed in the sound-world of Poulenc’s Gloriaand Szymanowski’s Stabat Mater; along with everyone else: counting bars’ rests like mad, frantically pitching the note for the next tenor entry from a fleeting clarinet solo or cello line, not being able to see the conductor, singing the wrong text: it was hard work, and terrific fun. I can say that now after a period of twelve or so hours from the tranquillity of the office: it didn’t feel quite like that at the time!
So, take a moment reflect on your own ensemble music-making experiences: what does making music mean to you ?
Because it does. Doesn't it ? Blogging about extra-curricular musical life at the University of Kent.