Tag Archives: music

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 including cancer. 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.

New term, new exhibition: A Canterbury Soundscape in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery

With the start of the summer term, we are delighted to launch our new exhibition here in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery.

A Canterbury Soundscape is the work of photographer and musician, Molly Hollman, and captures the life of the Music department in rehearsal and performance over the past year, combined with stunning images of the local landscape.

The images capture fleeting human moments at the heart of music-making – a shared joke during rehearsals, the opportunity to take a selfie in the Cathedral Crypt, a quick chance to tune an instrument before walking out to perform – as well as magical instances amidst the region’s wildlife and sumptuous scenery.


A Canterbury Soundscape is on display in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery until August, and admission is free; gallery open during normal building hours (including weekends), and there is disabled access. Find out more about Molly’s work on her website here.

A Canterbury Soundscape: new photography exhibition coming to Colyer-Fergusson Gallery

Our new exhibition in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery, A Canterbury Soundscape, which opens in ten days’ time, features the work of local prize-winning photographer and musician, Molly Hollman. Combining her passion for landscapes and wildlife with being a professional musician and music teacher, Molly has spent the past year capturing the life of the Music department here at Kent.

With an eye for a dramatic moment and an imaginative sense of space, Molly’s photography breathtakingly captures the spirit of people and of place. Her work turns a fleeting moment into a universal truth, responding to the beauty in landscapes, in venues and the people within them, in the way they interact with each other.  Whether in the intimacy of a single flower within a landscape or the intensity of a musician concentrating in rehearsal, her work transcends the temporary moment, turning it into a timeless statement that skilfully captures the dynamic at the heart of what she sees through the lens.

Ahead of her exhibition launch, I caught up with Molly and asked her about her work.


How did you become interested in photography ?

Molly Hollman

I’ve always been an artist (my parents are both artists and potters) and have enjoyed painting throughout my life, although when my children were born time somehow seemed to disappear…. So I turned to photography, something I’d always enjoyed but never fully immersed myself in until then.

What attracts you most about working with images ?

I love to capture the world around me and have always had a love of nature; with photography I can capture the image as I see it, for posterity. Photographing the candid and everyday is as important to me as the grand and splendid.

What were you looking for in taking the pictures in this exhibition ?

I always try to capture a moment – many of the best photographs have a narrative, making the viewer reflect and be drawn into the scene. Posed photographs are often very staged and reveal no story or emotion.


Are there any photographers you particularly admire, or whose work has influenced you in some way ?

I have many influences, looking at as many photographs as possible is the best way of improving your craft. Aside from the classics, such as Ansel Adams and Henri Cartier Bresson, I like many contemporary photographers, such as Julie Blackmon, Henrik Kerstens and David Chancellor.


What’s been your best/most fortuitous moment taking pictures ?

Any time where the light has been amazing! Be as observant as you can – I won a prize in an international competition with a photograph of birds feeding, they were on a white fence with a white wall behind which then lent a touch of minimalism to the image and made the photograph more powerful.

What’s been your worst ?!

Grey, flat skies (as opposed to stormy skies which I love) are hard to do anything with, as are sobbing toddlers!

People or places ?

I like both, capturing a person’s character in one image is a real challenge that I relish, but my love of nature pulls me outdoors as much as possible. When I do portrait shoots, I try to do them on location if possible, thus combining the two.


A Canterbury Soundscape opens in Colyer-Fergusson Gallery on Monday 8 May, and runs until September; admission is free, the gallery is open during normal working hours, and there is disabled access. Find out more about Molly on her website here.