Tag Archives: Music Scholars

Scholars Spotlight: Eric MacTaggart

Continuing the new feature, profiling this year’s new crop of University Music Scholars: this week, trombonist Eric MacTaggart.


As an undergraduate, I studied music education and music performance at the University of Iowa, where I played in various jazz bands, concert bands, and orchestras. After graduating from Iowa, I was a band director in Idaho for two years and was able to perform in a ska band and the Idaho Falls Symphony Orchestra.

I came to the University of Kent for the Philosophy of Art and Aesthetics Masters program, but was excited to find an active Music Society on campus where I could continue to stay active in music.

It is great to keep up with my playing in the various bands and orchestra here and I am looking forward to performing in the Canterbury Cathedral and taking trombone lessons with renowned musicians in London.

Scholars Spotlight: Tim Pickering

A new feature, profiling this year’s new crop of University Music Scholars: this week, saxophonist Tim Pickering.


My name is Tim Pickering and I come from Littlehampton in West Sussex, and I am studying for a BSc in Forensic Chemistry. I studied at the Littlehampton Community School, and then took A-Levels at the 6th Form there (although for some reason, not in music!) I have been playing the alto saxophone eleven years, and have recently picked up the tenor saxophone as my primary instrument. I hold ABRSM Grade 7 on Alto Sax, and I am currently working towards Grade 8 on the Tenor.

I have played with many different groups and set ups – from quintets,  pop bands and the local ‘Littlehampton Concert Band’ through to a seventeen-piece big band I assembled with the help of a few friends.

My school never really had a great music department; in fact when I joined, the ‘orchestra’ consisted of myself on alto sax, a flute and two violins! It did improve gradually, and one of the music teachers Steve Winter (a veteran himself of the UKC Big Band and Concert Band) got a small jazz group off the ground, which was great as it got some musicians in the music department some much-needed gigs! Although when the new head of music arrived in my second year, classical music lost the emphasis and steel pans became all the rage (much to the other musicians’ disgust!). Our school wasn’t involved in the county music side of things either, so this meant if I wanted playing opportunities in larger groups, I had to create them myself!

I am currently working on putting together and rehearsing a quintet here at Canterbury, with the aim of tackling styles from straight ahead jazz to rhythm and blues, and maybe even some classic rock ‘n’ roll. I’m looking forward to hopefully performing at some of the Jazz @5 sessions , and generally what music here brings for me! I am also playing first Tenor Sax in the Concert Band and Big Band. However, I still would like to play more, so if anyone is looking for a sax player for their band…

I feel I have been very privileged in being picked as a music scholar here at Canterbury, and the musical side of life is fantastic – in fact it was the music department that really swayed my decision to apply here! To go from playing in small jazz quintets and the very occasional Big-Band get together, to rehearsing solidly once a week with decent gigs booked is an exciting change for me! I really want to use my time at university to push myself to be the best sax player I can possibly be, and I hope with the scholarship and the help of my teacher Peter Cook, I hope I can continue to progress.

Scholars Spotlight: Kathryn Cox

Continuing the series profiling this year’s crop of Music Scholars at the University. This week, soprano Kathryn Cox.


After an absolutely fantastic (and very jam-packed) first term at university, I’m excited to be back again. Just three weeks in to the new term and rehearsals for numerous concerts are already well underway. Last term involved numerous musical highlights including the first Chamber Choir concert, ‘Music for Advent’ which was a real success, with the choir collectively deciding to sing in a mixed formation! The sound was much more rounded and rich, and did not fall victim to the extensive repertoire. Other highlights included singing Finizi’s For St. Cecilia with the University Chorus and Orchestra, and not forgetting of course the University Carol Service in the Cathedral. The Carol Service demanded much multi-tasking; trying to sing whilst concentrating on not tripping on a floor- length dress or setting somebody’s hair on fire with your candle is a rather tall order.

I feel I should write a small amount about my musical background, why I’m interested in music, and what I’m involved in musically with the university, so here goes: I have been engulfed with music throughout my upbringing and definitely ‘got the bug’ so to speak. Family friends jokily call my family the ‘Von Cox’s’…….. minus the mountains and the narrow escape, they’re not far off!. Alongside working towards ABRSM and LAMDA qualifications, I was a member of Taplow Youth Choir who won the title of ‘BBC Radio 3 Youth Choir of the Year’ in 2008. Being a part of such a dynamic and friendly choir was a real privilege, and involved singing in an international choral competition in Estonia, and singing ‘Elijah’ at the BBC Proms in 2011 with the Gabrielli Consort and singers.

Singing in Chorus, Chamber Choir and the Cecilian Choir is both challenging and rewarding. Being involved with music as well as reading a Joint Honours degree in Psychology and Law can be a large workload at times, but there’s no rest for the wicked!

Scholars Spotlight: Gemma Sapp

We’re delighted to be launching a new feature here on ‘Music Matters,’ profiling students who are part of this year’s new crop of University Music Scholars. We kick-start the series this week as we meet bassoonist Gemma Sapp.


Hi, I’m Gemma. I have joined Kent to do my MA in Theatre Dramaturgy (yes this is a subject!). One of the reasons I chose to come to Kent was its wide range of musical activities and the chance to be awarded a scholarship for musical ability. Having recently completed my undergrad in classical music from the University of Liverpool, I wanted to find a university that both satisfied what I wanted from my course and that had a strong musical ethos and Kent had both of these things.

Music has always been my love in life, and from starting recorder lessons at the age of six, I haven’t put an instrument down. I specialise in woodwind, mainly bassoon and saxophone and before heading to university I was part of Somerset County Youth Concert band and had started playing for many local choral societies and operatic societies. During my time at Liverpool University, I worked my way through the ranks to become President of Liverpool University Music Society in my final year. This meant organising, running and playing in the groups and organising their finances and concerts. I was also playing in and helping to run the University Symphony Orchestra which brought together all of the universities across Liverpool together to play. While at uni I started to play professionally in pit orchestras across the North West including a two week stint at The Lowry, Salford playing for the revival of Chorus Line.

Moving down to Kent has been hard. When your contacts, pupils, mentors and friends are hundreds of miles away it can feel leave you feeling very isolated. However, there is always a band or orchestra who will let you play and I am now a member of the University Orchestra, Wind Band, Big Band and we have recently started a wind ensemble playing some finger-busting Mozart. From involving myself in these and getting to know the staff I have found work with Sandwich and District Choral Society (from which I found another contact…) and hopefully some pit work later in the year. I also have a couple of pupils again. I love teaching. Seeing someone improve, develop and enjoy music is a joy and privilege. In the last week I have also been elected to one of the positions for Post-Grad rep for the Music Society so expect to see me around a lot more.

I’m sorry this has gone on a bit but when I start talking about music I really can’t stop. The title of this blog sums it up for me, ‘Music Matters – Because it does, doesn’t it?’. Yes. Quite simply, it does.

Music featured in the Kent magazine

I’m delighted to see that we’ve been given a double-page spread in the latest issue of the University magazine; the feature includes a review of last year’s Music Scholarship prize-winners; a focus on Humphrey Berney’s musical success after life at Kent; a look at the latest on the Colyer-Fergusson music building; and a look ahead to the last ever concert in Eliot Hall!

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Gone Clubbing: Scholars at the Canterbury Festival

Another packed house last Friday greeted several of the University’s Music Scholars, in their annual lunchtime recital at the Festival Club, accompanied by Deputy Director of Music, Dan Harding.

Heart and Sole: Paris Noble and Sarah Davies display their concert footwear

A rare opportunity to hear not one, but two tubas, with third-year Architecture student Chris Gray, accompanied by his teacher, Steve Wassall, giving a deft reading of a Bach Two-Part Invention and the Minuet and Ecossaise from Catelinet’s ‘Suite in Miniature.’ Not only is Chris a member of the Symphony Orchestra, Concert Band and Chorus, he’s also President of the Music Society this year: as he said to me in rehearsal, ”It’s like I’m doing Music with some Architecture on the side.’ A busy man indeed…

Soprano and second-year Drama student Paris Noble swept on-stage to portray three different damsels in distress: O mio babbino caro from Puccini’s ‘Gianni Schicchi,’ Granados’ coquettish El majo discreto, and finishing with Loewe’s dizzying I Could Have Danced All Night from ‘My Fair Lady.’

Second-year Historian, Kathryn Redgers, principal flautist with the Symphony Orchestra and section leader in Concert Band, then gave a dazzling reading of Chaminade’s Concertino, the piece for which Chaminade is chiefly remembered; a child-prodigy, Chaminade once played some of her compositions to Bizet. Kathryn gave an accomplished performance, showing great skill in matching the challenge of the piece’s virtuosic demands, including a finely-crafted cadenza.

Top brass: Steve Wassall and Chris Gray

Final-year English Literature student Sarah Davies, also in Orchestra and Concert Band and Treasurer of the Music Society this year, gave a suitably poised performance of the second movement of  Saint-Saëns’ neo-Classical Sonata for Clarinet and Piano, followed by Gershwin’s jazzy Walkin’ the Dog, which had a swggering,  sassy swing.

Chris and Steve then showed the tuba can be as fleet of foot as both the flute and clarinet, in the March and Fugue for two tubas by the prolific Derek Bourgeois.

To end the concert, Paris was joined by soprano Marina Ivanova, in her second year and reading Economics, for two operatic duets, the lyrical Flower Duet from Delibes’ ‘Lakmé’ and the lulling barcarolle, Belle Nuit from the ‘Tales of Hoffmann’ by Offenbach.

As the Deputy Vice-Chancellor Keith Mander observed in his closing remarks, the University has a fine crop of musicians and a vibrant musical life, with the Music Scholars at the heart of all its music-making. With the new Marlowe Theatre having just opened, and the  Colyer-Fergusson centre for Music Performanc opening next year to house all the University’s music-making, together with the Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate, it really is an exciting time for the cultural life of East Kent and the wider community.

Sarah Davies and Kathryn Redgers

Congratulations to all the performers, and thanks to Sarah Passfield from the Festival team who made us all so welcome.

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At the Festival: Scholars recital this afternoon

The slightly damp weather this morning will be lightened with the forecast of some sunny music-making this afternoon, as some of our Music Scholars give their annual lunchtime recital in this year’s Canterbury Festival.

After weeks of rehearsals, the Festival Club will come alive at 1pm to the music of Gershwin, Saint-Saens, Delibes, Granados and more, as some of the stars of tomorrow appear today. We’re in the process of gathering all the logistical equipment together as you read this: music stands, copies of the programme, posh frocks for the sopranos (of course!) and all the other paraphernalia that accompanies a public performance.

See you at the Festival Club on St. Alphege Lane at 1pm; admission is free – last year’s concert was packed out, so make sure you get there early!

Granados to Gershwin: Scholars star in Festival concert this Friday

Several of the University’s Music Scholars will take centre stage in a lunchtime recital on Friday 28 October, as part of this year’s Canterbury Festival.

Talented singers and instrumentalists on the Scholarship scheme will present a programme rich in variety at the Festival Club on St. Alphege Lane, including instrumental music by Gershwin, Saint-Saëns and Bach, and songs and duets by Granados, Puccini and Delibes, accompanied by the Deputy Director of Music, Dan Harding.

The Festival Club

There’s the chance to enoy a rare pair of duetting tubas,  some well-known soprano duets, a dazzling firecracker for flute by Chaminade, and more.

Come and enjoy the buzz of the Festival Club, and hear some of the University’s top musicians in fine form. The recital starts at 1pm; admission is free.

Further details on-line here.

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