Tag Archives: music

Without borders: Laura Osswald reflects

This year, the Music department is delighted to welcome Erasmus student, Laura Osswald, here for two terms as part of her studies in the School of Psychology. Here, Laura reflects on what music means for her and getting involved in the musical life of the University.


Music has always been a very important part of my life. I have been playing the recorder and the cello for 15 and 13 years respectively. In various orchestras and ensembles from Baroque to contemporary music, some of them international, I have experienced how music does not know any borders.

Making music together with others has always been a great pleasure for me – creating something amazing with people who share your passion is just wonderful. I started studying Psychology in Würzburg, Germany in April 2018 and since then I belong to the Academic Orchestra and a choir. I am very happy about that, not only because of the great music we make, but also because I have met so many nice people from different backgrounds, studying different subjects. Therefore, when I applied for Erasmus at the University of Kent, I was very glad to read about the Music Department with all its various possibilities.

During Welcome Week, I first got in touch with members of the Music Society and they were very friendly and welcoming from the start! In the following weeks, I joined the Symphony Orchestra and the Cecilian Choir, the String Sinfonia and the Pops Orchestra – I didn’t quite expect to be this involved with music at Kent, but I am more than happy about it and enjoy playing in these groups very much! In addition to the regular ensembles, there are some smaller formations for various occasions. Together with Jeni, a violist, I played a duet in the second Open Mic Night of the Music Society. Two weeks ago, I played in a concert in Calais with the University  Camerata which was a great experience and I feel very honoured that I was selected for this ensemble.

The second concert in Kent for me was the Nostalgia Night with the Cecilian Choir.

I am very excited for our next performance, the meditative Advent Breathing Space with Christmas carols and antiphons in a candlelit medieval church this Friday.

Even though you cannot study music on the University’s Canterbury campus, the Music Department offers an amazing variety of opportunities for students who want to get involved. It feels like all the different musicians and ensembles are part of one big family. I am very grateful to be part of that family.

Find out more: Weds 18 September

With Welcome Week about to burst into vibrant activity here at the University, make sure you come along to Colyer-Fergusson on Wednesday 18 September to find out about getting involved in extra-curricular music, whatever you are studying.

Between 11am and 3pm, members of the music staff and the various Music Societies will be on hand to enthuse about the many opportunities to get involved in music as part of student life at Kent. Visitors can look round the award-winning Colyer-Ferguson concert hall, practice rooms and band room, as well as learn about the differing ways in which to become a part of music: whether it’s singing with Chorus, Chamber Choir, Cecilian Choir or the upper-voice choir, Minerva Voices; instrumentalists can join the Symphony Orchestra, Concert Band or Big Band, and there are other music societies active during the year including the Musical Theatre Society.

Plans for the Wednesday event include live music on the foyer-stage throughout the day, and there’s the possibility of a Scratch Orchestra play-through of popular film scores, and even choruses from Messiah.

We look forward to welcoming you through the doors of Colyer-Fergusson during Welcome Week, and especially next Wednesday – come and find out how to make rehearsing and performing a part of your university experience, whatever course you may be studying!

Music and science come together: Between Worlds

Between Worlds is an exciting new inter-disciplinary project which brings together music, science, film, live media projection and performance in the form of a new piece for choir and ensemble by composer and performer, Anna Phoebe. Written for the University of Kent Chamber Choir and String Sinfonia, the piece is a direct, original musical response to spectacular visual imagery provided by research at the University’s School of Biosciences, and to the scientific environment in which is is conducted, drawing on hi-resolution spectroscopy, video evidence and even sampled sounds from the laboratory.

Anna Phoebe / AVA / Shot by Rob Blackham / www.blackhamimages.com

Composer and performer Anna Phoebe has toured extensively throughout the world, both as a solo artist and with bands including Roxy Music and Jethro Tull, from arenas across the USA to the Royal Albert Hall and Glastonbury, including supporting Bob Dylan at the Rock Legends Festival in Poland . Anna works with The Royal Ballet School as a composer and music advisor, and has worked on several music/dance projects with the students, as well as improvisation workshops

Bringing together a combination of disciplines, the mixture of live music, projections and performers forms a new, highly creative approach to engaging audiences with cutting-edge scientific research data; the project presents images and film generated by exploratory research at the sub-molecular level. Field recordings from the laboratories at the University are also incorporated into a mesmerising soundscape clothing the live musicians, forming an evocative sonic backdrop to stunning research imagery.

The research, led by Dr Chris Toseland, explores Gene Expression, and is used to combat diseases. Funded by Cancer Research UK, Chris’ research is the inspiration behind the 38-minute work for choir, solo violin, string ensemble, synthesiser and percussion. Chris received a BSc (Hons) in Biochemistry from the University of Wales – Aberystwyth in 2006 then commenced a PhD at the MRC National Institute for Medical Research – London. He received his PhD in 2010 from the University of London. His thesis focused upon the biochemical and biophysical characterisation of DNA helicases. At the end of his PhD, Chris was awarded an EMBO Long Term Fellowship to move to the Ludwig Maximilians Universität – Munich to work on single molecule studies with myosin motors. After 3 years he relocated to the Max Planck Institute of Biochemistry with a research focus on genome organisation. Chris joined the School of Biosciences in 2015 as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow. In the same year he was awarded a highly prestigious MRC Career Development Award to establish his research group.

The University Chamber Choir, directed by Deputy Director of Music, Dan Harding, has been working with Anna since January, and performed three a cappella choral movements from the piece as part of a recent concert the Choir gave in Wye, for which they were joined by Anna on solo violin.

The premiere of Between Worlds in its entirety, complete with live projections and electronic soundscapes, will be given on Friday 7th June 2019, in the spectacular surrounding of the University’s Colyer-Fergusson concert-hall, conducted by Dan Harding, as part of the Music department’s annual Summer Music Week festival.

For tickets and event details, click here.

Cellular Dynamics goes to Hong Kong

The ever-developing Cellular Dynamics project, where science meets music, takes on an international aspect this weekend, with a performance as part of #SPARKhk2019 in China.

A Festival of Ideas run by the British Council in Hong Kong which takes place from 18-20 January, the weekend includes an incarnation of Cellular Dynamics at Tai Kwun, at the venue pictured here earlier today by Professor Dan Lloyd from the School of Biosciences.

Read the Festival programme online here, and follow Cellular Dynamics on Twitter here.

Cellular Dynamics wooes audience at Norwich Science Festival

The developing music-meets-science project, Cellular Dynamics, travelled to Norwich yesterday, to take part in this year’s Norwich Science Festival, and wooed the audience at the historic Octagon Chapel.

The dialogue between live music and scientific research data projections featured in the festival as one of ‘five weird and wonderful events not to be missed,’ according to the Norwich Evening News, and so it proved. Pianists Dan Harding and Matthew King performed a programme of beguiling music for two- and four-hand piano music, whilst Dan Lloyd, Deputy Head of the School of Biosciences, led a visual exploration in images and video of the School’s latest research, capturing the everyday and the sub-molecular using high-resolution spectroscopy. It’s a fascinating way of engaging audiences with both recent developments in the research community, as well as capturing lesser-seen (and often lesser-celebrated) aspects of the laboratory environment and the people who work in it.

We are grateful to festival producer, Natalie Bailey, for the invitation to participate in the festival, and for looking after us and making us welcome.

Read more about the Cellular Dynamics project here.

Beach antics: Cellular Dynamics engages audiences at Beach Creative

The Herne Bay community is currently enjoying the evolving Cellular Dynamics project, as scientific research and live music combine in a two-week residency at Beach Creative, the community’s thriving arts centre

Saturday night saw a performance of music combined with live image- and video-projections by Deputy Head of the School of Biosciences, Dr Dan Lloyd, and Your Loyal Correspondent, set amidst the photographic exhibition accompanying the project, which has been on show since Tuesday and lasts until 1 July. The live piano works performed included John Cage’s hypnotic In A Landscape, the mesmerising Opening by Philip Glass, and pieces by Debussy and Tarik O’Regan, alongside hi-resolution spectroscopy and images drawn from the scientific environment.

The audience enjoyed pre-performance refreshments and a short introductory talk about the project at the University, before the performance. Uniquely amongst the various incarnations of the project which have previously taken place, this one saw both performers sat surrounded by the audience, creating a highly intimate atmosphere, with each piece prefaced by an informal Q&A session.

A display cabinet also presented functional peripherals from the research laboratory as objets d’art; another aspect of looking at the scientific landscape in a creative way.

The exhibition continues at Beach Creative until 1 July, and admission is free; Cellular Dynamics next appears as part of the Norwich Science Festival in October.

Chamber Choir students work with British composer

Students in the University Chamber Choir had the opportunity to work with one of Britain’s leading composers in rehearsal yesterday, in preparation for singing in the University Carol Service in Canterbury Cathedral next month.

The choir was privileged to welcome Russell Hepplewhite to its usual evening rehearsal, to work on Russell’s Star of the East. It can be a daunting prospect, performing a composer’s work in their presence, but the Choir rose to the occasion magnificently.

Hailed by the Evening Standard as ‘one of the brightest young talents to have emerged in recent years,’ Russell’s award-winning work has been commissioned to critical acclaim by English Touring Opera, and his choral works are part of the recent Genesis Choral Library series launched by Banks Music Publications. His next work, Moonfleet, is set to open at the Salisbury Playhouse in April.

It was a terrific opportunity for the students to get to grips with contemporary music with the composer offering them insights into the creation of the work and its realisation; huge thanks to Russell for coming down from London especially last night; we’re looking forward to unfurling the piece in the majestic Nave of Canterbury Cathedral on 11 December.

Commemmorating the 150th anniversary of Amy Beach

Today marks the 150th anniversary of the birth of the American composer, concert-pianist and educator, Amy Beach. She achieved widespread recognition not only for her compositions but also for her career as a concert-pianist, performing in both America and Europe. Known as the ‘Dean of American Composers’ after the premiere of her Gaelic Symphony in 1896, she became a major figure representing women working in the arts at a time when – as still – it was dominated by men, and establishing an identity for herself was a struggle. On concert-stages throughout Europe, she flourished as a performer of both her own works as well as the usual bastions of piano repertoire. Her legacy includes a wealth of choral and orchestral music, songs, a piano concerto (written to demonstrate her own capabilities) and chamber music.

To celebrate her anniversary, here are two pieces from her delightful Children’s Album, Op.36 – a collection which displays her lyrical creativity, a boisterous sense of fun matched with a highly expressive harmonic ear, and also, in the ‘Waltz,’ a wonderful melodic sense tinged ever so slightly with a hint of melancholy. Both pieces are played in the concert-hall by Your Loyal Correspondent.

Amy Beach: Waltz

Amy Beach: March

And here is the charming Columbine from her Op.25 set, Children’s Carnival.