Tag Archives: music

A little Latitude: recent graduate Maddie Rigby reflects on this year’s festival

Maddie Rigby graduated from the University last month with a degree in Drama & Theatre Studies, alongside which she played clarinet in the Orchestra and Concert Band, as well as singing with Chorus and the Cecilian Choir. Here, she reflects on experiencing this year’s Latitude Festival whilst volunteering with Dash Arts Theatre, a welcome return to live music and accidentally attending a secret gig by one of the 80’s biggest stars…

Maddie Rigby

I only found out I was going to be working at Latitude a week and a half before it began! I signed up to volunteer with Dash Arts Theatre as part of their performance event ‘Forum’ throughout the festival, and when I wasn’t on shift, I could see as much as I wanted. Being so last-minute and worrying way too much about camping for the first time, I put hardly any thought into the fact that I would be surrounded by live music and about 40,000 people for the first time since lockdown began.

As a COVID Test Event, every attendee had to show proof of a negative test before arriving and answer a health screening questionnaire each morning. As a performer, we also had to take an additional test two days into the festival to be allowed access back onto the main site. The detailed and regular checks made the whole event feel safe and for the first time in a year and a half I didn’t wear a mask for four days in a row.

Latitude is a festival that has something for everyone and is extremely family-orientated. Walking through the festival you can see the variety of performances and experiences on offer from the Theatre Arena in the forest, to the Zen Den which led meditations and yoga and onto the Comedy Arena, before finally reaching the main music stages. The variety available made Latitude feel more like a celebration of the Arts than a music festival. The relaxed atmosphere made it so easy to wander around and discover new artists creating music, theatre and art.

Over the weekend I saw such a range of performances that it’s hard to sum the whole festival up. The very first thing I saw was a collaboration of Brass Bands playing mostly Beyoncé and the last, a psychedelic R’n’B singer, Greentea Peng. Over the whole festival I saw pop artists like Maisie Peters and Mabel, headliners the Kaiser Chiefs, Wolf Alice and Bombay Bicycle Club and even Bill Bailey. On the final day Latitude announced a surprise performance from The Vaccines, an appropriate choice seeing as COVID jabs were being offered at the festival! The band had one of the largest audiences I saw and the crowd spilled out of the BBC Sounds Stage, groups of friends and families sat down outside just to listen to the band. The enjoyment of listening to live music and seeing people’s favourite bands was contagious. It was an incredible feeling to be in the middle of a huge crowd, singing and dancing along again.

On the Saturday night, whilst searching for the last live music before every stage turned to DJ sets, a friend and I stumbled across a small seven-piece band playing covers at the Trailor Park Stage. The two female backup singers were so much better than the male lead, but we decided to stay because a huge crowd had gathered behind us. It wasn’t until our work group chat messaged about a ‘secret gig’ at the Trailor Park and we googled his name to check his face against the man who was currently in front of us, did we realise we had been listening to Rick Astley (The guy who sang ‘Never Gonna Give You Up’ in the 80s). Not really our fault when he refused to sing any of his own songs that evening. It was definitely one of the strangest performances I saw the entire weekend.

One of the main reasons I went to Latitude was to see Arlo Parks, who I’ve already talked about on an episode of Vinyl Countdown (see below). Unfortunately, she was unable to perform because she had tested positive for COVID earlier in the week. I was disappointed but there were a few music discoveries I made which made up for it. If I could recommend a few artists I found and loved it would have to be Lucia & The Best Boys, Ellie Dixon and my favourite of the entire weekend, Greentea Peng. Like most of the music I listen to, they are all pretty chilled out so if that’s your vibe, definitely check them out!

The overriding feeling at Latitude was one of relief and excitement from every performer for the opportunity to be in front of a live audience again. At the start of every set there was always a genuine and heartfelt recognition from the performer for how amazing being at a festival and with other people was. Being in the crowd, it really felt as though the artists were just as excited to play as we were to hear them. Witnessing the return of live music and celebrating it with complete strangers was worth waiting for.

Although I had to sleep in a tent and my feet are killing me from doing nearly 46,000 steps each day (genuinely reached 46, 133 on the Saturday) I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to be there. Latitude has made it clear that we should all take the chance to have as many new experiences and make new memories now that we can.

Maddie Rigby (Drama & Theatre Studies, 2017 – 2021)

Scholars’ Spotlight: filming continues

We’re back this week, continuing to film new material in our Scholars’ Spotlight series, highlighting Music Performance Scholars and Award Holders here at Kent.

This morning, it’s the turn of Arthur Zhang, reading French in the School of European Culture and Languages, recording pieces by Handel, Ligeti and Schumann. Keep an eye out for the film, coming soon.

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.