Tag Archives: Music Scholars

Scholar’s Spotlight: Ramnath Venkat Bhagavath

Continuing the series profiling University Music Performance Scholars; this week, Masters student in Actuarial Science, Ramnath Venkat Bhagavath.


Having been born into a family of musicians, I started my vocal training in South Indian Classical music (Carnatic music) at a very young age.  I still remember my childhood days when my grandmother would wake me up at 5 am in the morning and make me practice for 2 hours, every single day. Being an accomplished Veena artiste, she was a perfectionist in every sense. I gave my first public performance at the age of 13 and since then, I have been regularly giving vocal concerts.

After completing my schooling in India, I did my undergraduate studies in Toronto, Canada, and immediately followed that with a Masters at the University of Southern California, Los Angeles. I relocated back to India in 2012 after my studies and worked there for five years before I decided to come to University of Kent to do my second masters. I was actively pursuing and performing music throughout, alongside studies and work. I was fortunate to perform on many prestigious stages in India and abroad.

When I first came to University of Kent, I was a little worried whether I would have the opportunity to pursue music along with my masters. I was even apprehensive when I applied for the University Music Performance scholarship as I wasn’t sure whether Indian classical music would be encouraged. All this changed when I had my audition for the scholarship. Both Susan (the Director of University Music) and Daniel (the Deputy Director of University Music) were extremely welcoming and encouraging of Indian classical music. When I got to know that I was selected for the scholarship, I was very thrilled and delighted beyond words.

When I first stepped into the Colyer-Fergusson hall, I was amazed at the splendor, grandeur and acoustics of the hall. I was lucky to have couple of my skype music classes with my Guru in India, right in that hall. I also had access to practice rooms with just an email notice. I was able to actively pursue music while at Kent.

Ramnath and musicians performing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, May 2018

When I was given the opportunity to do a lunchtime concert at Colyer Fergusson, I was inexplicably happy. After all, to perform in such a hall will be every musician’s dream! My performance was well attended and appreciated by everyone. I had excellent musicians from London accompanying me on the Violin, Mridangam and Ghatam for the lunchtime concert. If not for this concert opportunity, I would not have had the chance to know these musicians. We already have plans to collaborate again in future.

Furthermore, I also had the privilege to perform during the Scholars lunchtime concert, where I performed along with other music scholars. I also worked with the University wellbeing department to conduct workshops on Raga singing, as a part of their wellness week program. I sincerely express my gratitude to everyone at the Music department for giving me wonderful opportunities to showcase South Indian Classical music. University of Kent has truly given me beautiful musical memories that will be etched in my heart forever!


Read more profiles of University Music Scholars here.

Cat and Mouse: imagining Debussy’s Serenade of the Doll

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.

Lydia Cheng

‘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…

Alumna stars in Magic Flute

Former Music Scholarship student and singer, Marina Ivanova, recently appeared in the role of Papagena with Opera South East. As a Music Scholar, she sang in Chorus, Chamber Choir, and numerous Scholar recitals, including a masterclass with Dame Anne Evans; she was also a Music Prize-Winner in 2014. Here, she reflects on music-making and her recent role.


Soprano Marina Ivanova singing in Colyer-Fergusson Hall in 2013

I read European Economics and French at Kent, and graduated in 2014. I had an amazing time as a Music Scholar at Kent between 2010 and 2014. One of my most memorable and exciting experiences was the Scenes from Mozart concert during Summer Music Week, and singing Vivaldi and Mozart in lunchtime recitals by University Music Scholars.

Opera South East’s Magic Flute in rehearsal

Since graduating, I have been actively seeking for new opportunities as a shorus member or a principal in opera productions. In 2016 I made my operatic debut at Brent Opera, in London, as the Singer in Puccini’s Manon Lescaut. Since February 2017, I have been working with Opera South East in a production of The Magic Flute and I was delighted to appear as Papagena in the two performances last weekend! These were in the White Rock Theatre, in Hastings.

Marina (right) as Papagena with Opera South East

My intention is to develop further my operatic training and to continue working on new and exciting opera productions.

Rehearsal photos courtesy of Mark Duncan.

Legal harmony: musical law students perform for opening of new Wigoder Building

We often have Music Scholarship students who are reading Law here at the University; yesterday two of them serenaded honoured guests at the lunch in Darwin college before the opening of the Wigoder Law Building in the afternoon.

Second-year violinst Lydia Cheng and cellist Faith Chan performed for the benefit of invited guests prior to the launch of the new building.

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The Right Hon Charles Wigoder at the launch of the new building. Image: Kent Law Campaign
The Right Hon Charles Wigoder at the launch of the new building. Image: Kent Law Campaign

The new building, the new home for Kent Law Clinic at the University, was opened by.Baroness Hale, and the Hon Charles Wigoder also spoke at yesterday’s official opening.

The opening of the Wigoder Building. Image: Kent Law School
The opening of the Wigoder Building. Image: Kent Law School

Congratulations to everyone involved in the project; the building promises to be a wonderful enhancement to the University facilities and to Kent Law School.

Summer Music Week: Day Three

Colyer-Fergusson welcomed donors, supporters and friends to the University Music Department yesterday, as they gathered on Day Three of Summer Music Week for the annual Music Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital.

A wonderfully exploratory programme opened with second-year Jonathan Butten giving a lyrical solo cor anglais performance, followed by final-year Anne Engels in two pieces of French flute repertoire by Poulenc and Messiaen. The atmosphere turned sultry with a Piazzollla piano trio, featuring second-year cellist Faith Chan and first-year violinist Lydia Cheng, with Your Loyal Correspondent on piano, before a kitchen-sink finale highlighting diverse repertoire for solo percussion by third-year Cory Adams.

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Cory Adams unleashes the timpani
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Lydia Cheng (l) and Faith Chan (r) after the performance
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Lydia Cheng and Faith Chan talking with patron of the Music Scholarship scheme, Dame Anne Evans

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The concert was followed by the annual Music Awards ceremony, recognising the outstanding contribution made by various student musicians over the course of this year, about which more anon, before audience and performers retired to a post-ceremony reception.

Summer Music Week continues today with live jazz at lunchtime, followed this evening by the roof-raising gala from the Concert and Big Bands.

Summer Music Week: full details of events now available

The annual musical celebration of the end of the academic year at the University of Kent, Summer Music Week, is set to burst into life next month.

Deal webFeaturing many of the University’s ensembles, the week-long festival opens at the seaside on Sunday 5 June with the University Big Band, conducted by Ian Swatman, visiting Deal Bandstand. Events throughout the week include a recital by University Music Scholars, a Wednesday evening gala concert with both the Concert and Big Bands, a feast of Baroque music with the Cecilian Choir and Sinfonia at St Michael’s Church, Harbledown,plus various other lunchtime events, all culminating in the traditional Music for a Summmer’s Day on Saturday 11 June with the Chorus, Orchestra and Minerva Voices, followed by cream teas.

Sinfonia webThe full line-up of events is now live on our website here, and you can follow all the events on the Summer Music Week Twitter feed here: printed brochures are also available in Colyer-Fergusson and the Gulbenkian. Join us as we bid an action-packed musical adieu to another year at Kent!

Image Gallery: Summer Music Week 2015

Images from some of the various events that took place from Sunday 7 to Saturday 13 June, as the Music department bid farewell to another year at the University of Kent. Photos from the Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital on Day Two; jazz on the foyer-stage on Day Three; the String Sinfonia on Day Four; the Chamber and Cecilian Choirs in rehearsal on Day 6; and the marquee reception on the final day.

Other photos from throughout the week on our Pinterest board here.

Images © Matt Wilson / University of Kent

Summer Music Week: days Three and Four

The music continues unabated this week as Summer Music Week rings around the building; days Three and Four saw a lunchtime recital by some of the University Music Scholars, followed by the annual awarding of the Music Prizes; performers Jonathan Butten, Anne Engels, Rianna Carr and John Gabriel together with guest Benedict Preece performed two movements from Ravel’s magical Mother Goose Suite; Emily Farrell demonstrated the euphonium’s light-footed side in an arrangements of Mozart’s Rondo alla turca; cellist Faith Chan and mezzo-soprano Charley Tench performed Purcell’s Dido’s Lament; and harpist Emma Murton gave a dazzling rendition of Debussy’s first Arabesque and Salzedo’s shimmering Chanson dans la nuit. The concert was also the first formal outing for the department’s newly-commissioned harpsichord, a stunning instrument built by Andrew Wooderson, and a generous donation by Dr James and Jenny Bird, for which we are immeasurably grateful.

Day Four featured the Sax Ensemble on the foyer-stage at lunchtime, with Hannah Wiffen, Felicity Langford and Patrick Eves joined by Chris Murrell on drums, led by Peter Cook. In the afternoon, the hall rang to the sound of the Concert Band and Big Band in rehearsal under the baton of conductor Ian Swatman, and the evening saw the bands, together with vocalist and alumna Steph Richardson, bring their musical year to a rousing conclusion.

Thanks to Phoebe Hopwood for this splendid panoramic shot of the Big Band preparing to play in the evening!

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Click to view

Events continue until Saturday; find out more here.