Tag Archives: Music Scholars

On Course: Emma Murton on the ABCD convention

Each August, the budding student conductor of the Chamber Choir in the following academic year goes on the Young Conductor’s Course with the Association of British Choral Directors summer school. This year, it was the turn of second-year Scholar, harpist and singer Emma Murton; here’s her story…


The ABCD choral conducting convention was a fantastic experience for me as a budding conductor. There were several highlights for me, including a session and performance by ”The White Rosette” and learning new tricks to the trade from Amy Bebbington – the leader of the young conductor’s course.

After settling in on the Friday into the amazing Leeds Metropolitan campus I met the other young conductors, all fantastic people I am keeping in contact with. With our free ABCD bags we pillaged all the stalls of their free samples of music and CD’s till they were bulging with new pieces and exciting new composers to explore for this year (and probably many years to come!). We then enjoyed a traditional and truly scrumptious Yorkshire meal with a round of the famous “Sheffield carols”, leaving our bellies full and voices cracked. It was then that I realised my voice was going to be running marathons this weekend!

The next morning we all arose bright and early to enjoy the warm-up session with Rhiannon Gayle, the founder of “Rock up and Sing” – a group which encourages people who have had bad experience with singing in the past to change their negative views on singing and enjoy it again. Her energetic and original warm-up’s will definitely feature in this year’s Chamber Choir warm ups, I can’t wait to use them! In the evening we all travelled to the Gala performance in Leeds town hall. It was an amazing building, full of impressive Victorian architecture and some unique musical history – from its commission and première performance of Belshazzar’s Feast to performances from Elgar and Rachmaninoff. The performance included the fantastic Swedish acapella group “Vocado” who were dressed in bright yellow trousers and bow-ties, a look I am trying to convince Dan to try for concerts this term! [Could be interesting:f or the group, or just me ? Dan.]

Throughout the weekend I experienced a huge variety of conducting and singing, with the highlight being the hugely talented group of young conductors and our workshops with Amy Bebbington. Each of us conducted completely different, enabling us to all gain new ways and techniques on choral leadership. Amy Bebbington lessons will stay with me this whole year as will the confidence the entire course gave me. It was a truly fantastic opportunity which I will treasure and use as the year progresses – watch out choir, we have some fun and hard work ahead!

Emma Murton

Autumn Concert Diary now online!

After an industrious summer of event and programme planning, not to mention the minor task of preparing to move to the new building, I’m delighted to say our new Concert Diary for the Autumn term has now been published online.

Total Brass
Total Brass

The Lunchtime Concert series continues, as we welcome musicians from Total Brass, sitarist Jonathan Mayer, and close-harmony group Sector7 in concerts throughout the term.

University Music Scholars will be giving an informal lunchtime concert in the first week of November – an exciting moment, as it will be the first event in the brand new Colyer-Fergusson music building and its wonderful new concert-hall!

Jonathan Mayer
Jonathan Mayer (sitar)

We’ll also be gathering to raise money for Children in Need again this year; come and be part of a whacky world première with a difference, written by yours truly – all you will need is a donation and your mobile-phone, complete with three different ring-tones…

The world-famous Brodsky Quartet continue their fortieth-birthday celebrations in inimitable style, as they bring their ‘Wheel of Four Tunes’ to the Colyer-Fergusson hall. Armed with an array of forty pieces from their hugely eclectic repertoire, the pieces in this concert will be decided by the spin of a wheel in what promises to be a unique event.


Finally, the term comes to a grand finale with the inaugural Gala Concert, with the combined ranks of the Chorus, Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Choir, Concert Band and Big Band, in a spectacular evening celebrating the formal opening of the new Colyer-Fergusson music building, complete with two new works especially written for the occasion.

An exciting term ahead: find out more online here.

Furley Page logo
Sponsors of the Lunchtime Concert series

Music in this month’s issue of KENT magazine

The latest issue of the University magazine includes the story about last term’s prize-winning musical students.

Also included is the news that Kent has been ranked 34th out of 117 UK higher education institutions in the Times Good University Guide 2013; the latest crop of Honorary Graduates recognised at last month’s graduation ceremonies, including Jools Holland; and lots more.

Scroll through to pages 4-5 for the feature.
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Outstanding students recognised in music awards ceremony

At a ceremony on Thursday 7 June, five outstanding students were awarded prizes, in recognition of their significant contributions to the year’s musical calendar at the University of Kent.

This year’s Canterbury Festival Music Prize, awarded by Director of the Canterbury Festival, Rosie Turner, to a final-year student who has made an outstanding contribution to music at the University, was given to Chris Gray (Architecture); President of the Music Society this year, Chris has also played tuba with the University Orchestra, Concert Band and Brass Ensemble, and has also previously sung with the Chamber Choir and Chorus. In another guise, Chris also featured on the front of the Music Department Christmas card, complete with Santa outfit!

The Colyer-Fergusson Music Prize, presented by chairman of the Colyer-Fergusson Charitable Trust, Jonathan Monckton, is given to a student who has made a major contribution to organising music at the University; the recipient this year was Masters student Adam Abo Henriksen, in particular for his role as musical director of the Musical Theatre Society’s production of Into the Woods which had a highly successful run at the Whitstable Playhouse in March (reviewed on the blog back in March here).

l-r: Chris Gray, Marina Ivanova, Adam Abo Henriksen, Ben Lodge, Tim Pickering

The University Music Prize, for a student who has a made a major contribution to music during the year, was presented by Deputy Vice-Chancellor, Keith Mander, to second-year Economics student, Marina Ivanova; Marina is a member of the Chorus, Chamber Choir and Cecilian Choir, and this year performed in the Scholars’ Recital as part of the Canterbury Festival, as well as in the Scholars Lunchtime Concert as part of Summer Music earlier this term. She also stood in for the soprano soloist in rehearsals for Haydn’s Creation with the University Orchestra in the spring.

The Awards Committee made two additional awards; the first, in recognition of his musical development at Kent, to second-year trumpeter Ben Lodge, who has been principal trumpet with the Orchestra, and played with the Concert Band and Big Band and the Brass Ensemble, for his exemplary approach and commitment to music at the University, and for a memorable opening to Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in the December orchestral concert. The second award, to a student who has made a significant impact on music-making in their first year, was awarded to saxophonist Tim Pickering (Forensic Chemistry); Tim has been quickly become a key member of the Big Band and Concert Band, and also participated in Jazz @ 5, as well as in Whitefriars with the ‘Big Brand New’ as part of the Sounds New Festival in Canterbury in May.

Director of Music, Susan Wanless, said

‘’As ever, I am so impressed at the talent and commitment of these students who do all their music-making out of hours, alongside studying for their degrees. It is wonderful to see them develop during their time at Kent, and all the skills and confidence they gain will equip them for the highly competitive job market when they leave. Thanks to the continued generosity of the Canterbury Festival and our other supporters, we can highlight their achievements and give them the recognition they so richly deserve.’’

Of course, there’s a vibrant mass of students who play a part in all the musical events in the University’s calendar with astonishing commitment and enthusiasm, and the Music Awards Committee has a difficult role to play in singling out particular individuals; the decision-making process is long and arduous, but an important one to allow the University to thank an especial few for their major role in everything musical over the year.

Summer Music brings University community together in farewell

The academic year has now come to a close, and last week’s Summer Music celebrations saw the year out in fine style.

Hot on the heels of the traditional battle-of-the-bands competition, Keynestock, the five days of events in Summer Music saw a host of musical activities, each one reflecting a different aspect of music-making at Kent and highlighting musicians from across the University community and beyond, each taking their moment to bid farewell to the end of another year.

Carina Evans

The Music Scholars’ Lunchtime Recital on the first day saw flautist Kathryn Redgers playing Bach, harpist Emma Murton in some jazz, marimba-player Carina Evans in some shimmering percussion textures, and soprano Marina Ivanova in dazzling form with some scintillating top-notes and effervescent cascading semi-quavers in Vivaldi’s Nulla in mundo pax sincera, accompanied by the University Camerata.

Later in the evening, the University Big Band under Ian Swatman enthused the Gulbenkian audience in a vibrant programme, that also saw some robust playing from special guests the Simon Bates Quartet and superb singing from Music Scholar and Big Band vocalist, Ruby Mutlow. Traditionally, there’s a moment when Ian invites all those performing for the last time to take a bow: only two players rose to their feet, leading to the suggestion that, with the influx of new players again next year, it might have to be re-christened the University Very Big Band!

Chamber and Cecilian Choirs in rehearsal

St Mildred’s Church in Canterbury city hosted the Chamber and Cecilian Choirs, who combined in a programme of works for solo and double choirs; the church was packed, and an enthusiastic audience treated to works by Schütz and Van Morrison from the massed combined ranks of singers; there was also Lauridsen, Victoria and Hassler from the Cecilian Choir in the first half, and Barnum, Brahms, Rachmaninov, Lassus and Billy Joel from the Chamber Choir in the second half. String players from the University Orchestra welcomed the audience with some pre-concert quartet music, while the irrepressible tenor section of the Chamber Choir burst into spontaneous barbershop singing during the post-concert refreshments.

Saturday saw the Music Theatre Society topping a highly successful year with There’s No Business Like Show Business! in the Gulbenkian Theatre, a showcase bursting with music from West End shows, Broadway musicals and popular music theatre favourites.

Sunday afternoon saw the culmination of the week and the musical year as a whole, in the annual Music Society Summer Concert, with valedictory performances from the Concert Band, Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Choir and the University Chorus. The Concert Band paid a tongue-in-cheek tribute to the fact that it was the last concert in Eliot Hall – next year, we move to our exciting new music building – with a rendition of The Great Escape, whilst the Orchestra paid its own tribute with the last section of Haydn’s Farewell Symphony, which sees members of the orchestra slowly leaving the stage, leaving only two violins remaining to bring the piece, and the afternoon’s concert, to a close.

University Orchestra in Haydn's 'Farewell' Symphony

The whole series of events across Summer Music really encapsulates what making music at the University is all about. Embracing students, staff, alumni, members of the local community, family and friends, all of whom combine to rehearse and perform on top of their course- or work commitments, the dynamic of music at Kent is all about the community experience. It’s a terrific opportunity for students to pursue their musical interests as an extra-curricular activity alongside their studies, and for staff to find opportunities to step away from the stresses of their professional duties and participate in creative projects throughout the year. Members of the local community also perform in Concert Band, Big Band, Chorus, Cecilian Choir and Orchestra, from all walks of life; from teachers and lawyers to doctors and dentists, all find a warm welcome and a musical outlet at the University.

The tears flowed on Sunday, as students who are graduating from the University this summer saw their last concert coming to a close. But there’s a healthy camaraderie fostered amongst the University’s musical community that often sees graduates returning as alumni, both to attend concerts and also to come back and perform.

With thanks to everyone who has participated in music at Kent throughout this academic year, and good luck and best wishes to all who are graduating. We look forward to catching up with you all again next year, when the Colyer-Fergusson centre for Music Performance will welcome the resumption of music-making in the autumn. Watch this space…


Music for a Summer’s Day: Sunday 10 June

The annual Music Society concert, Music for a Summer’s Day, is now just ten days away, and it promises to be the usual roof-raising summation of both Summer Music next week, as well as of another fine year of music-making at the University.

Bringing together the University Concert Band, Chorus, Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Choir, the programme includes the finale of Mozart’s popular Clarinet Concerto, with Music Scholar Sarah Davies as soloist; there’ll be film music from the Concert Band, a choral medley from My Fair Lady from the Chorus, pieces from the Chamber Choir (we’re sworn to secrecy about one of them!), Brahms’ Academic Festival Overture from the Orchestra, plus some popular favourites from Johann Strauss and Elgar – and a few surprises as well. There’ll even be balloons…

The occasion will be capped by cream teas (included in the price of tickets) in a marquee overlooking the slopes towards the city, with commanding views of the Cathedral on what we hope will be a fine summer afternoon.

Details about all the events in Summer Music online here, plus details of tickets for the Sunday concert.

To whet your appetites, here’s the spritely Mozart: perfect for a summer’s day.

Scholars Spotlight: Emma Murton

Continuing the series profiling some of the new crop of Music Scholars here at Kent: this week, harpist Emma Murton.


I owe my musical upbringing to my mum, who is a music teacher with flute as her first instrument. It was when she was at university that she performed in orchestra The Childhood of Christ by Berlioz an first encounter and fell in love with the harp. For her *mutter age* birthday she finally got to have lessons on the harp, dragging me alone (as a kicking and screaming seven-year old for the hour drive) to the lessons. Then I started, she stopped and hey ho!

I was at Wells Cathedral music school for ten years and was a specialist musician there for five years. During that time I have achieved grade 8 in Harp, grade 7 in singing and piano. Through the school I was lucky to have some amazing performance opportunities, such as performing regularly in the Cathedral from a young age. Some concert highlights for me were Karl Jenkins’ The Armed Man with Karl Jenkins in the audience, candlelight carol services, Rutter’s Requiem conducted by the composer himself and orchestra concerts in Bristol’s Colston Hall. I also had the amazing opportunity to go out to Sierra Leone last year to teach and perform around the capital.

Personally with the harp I have had master classes with Eleanor Turner and took part in the annual harp festivals of Bristol and Mid-Somerset, I have also been a part of South West Youth Orchestra, Somerset County Youth Orchestra and county choir.

The wide variety of music at Kent was a real deciding factor for my University choice and am over the moon I got in. The music department are so friendly and passionate and I know I’ve certainly met some fantastic people through orchestra.

One highlight for me with music at Kent so far is getting into the Chamber Choir, who are some of the maddest and amazing people I’ve met on campus yet and being able to sing with is a complete privilege. For the most part being involved in music at Kent means getting involved with as much as I can whilst continuing with my harp lessons as I work towards my diploma.

Scholars to star in Gulbenkian Theatre lunchtime concert

As part of Summer Music this term, several of the University’s Music Scholars will be starring in a lunchtime concert on Wednesday 6 June at 1.10pm.

Flautist with the University Orchestra and second-year Historian, Kathryn Redgers, will perform Bach’s Flute Sonata in G minor BWV 1020 accompanied by yours truly on the harpsichord.

Second-year soprano Marina Ivanova will sing Vivaldi’s sublime cantata, Nulla in mundo pax sincera, accompanied by the University Camerata. Marina is a member of the University Chamber Choir and Chorus, and both Marina and Kathryn have previously performed in the Scholars’ Recital as part of the Canterbury Festival each year in October. In her spare time, Marina reads Economics and Spanish!


Making their solo performing debuts at the concert will be first-year harpist, Emma Murton, and first-year percussionist, Carina Evans on marimba, in solo instrumental works.

Admission is free.