Congratulations to everyone involved in last Saturday’s annual Colyer-Fergusson Cathedral Concert; to all the performers in the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, the stewards, those working behind the scenes, conductor Susan Wanless and soprano soloist, Rachel Nicholls.
Continuing the series profiling new Music Performance Scholars and Award Holders. This week, first-year Law student, flautist and saxophonist, Megan Daniel.
When I was 8 years old, I found my Auntie’s old flute in the attic and I was determined to be able to make a sound out of it. So, I began lessons and immediately discovered my passion for music. Soon after, I started piano and alto saxophone lessons and, 10 years later, I can say I have achieved grade 8 distinctions in both flute and jazz saxophone.
Throughout my school years, I was an enthusiastic music student, finding myself to be involved in almost every ensemble possible, such as concert bands, big bands and choirs. I was a member of my local student wind ensemble for 9 years and my county-wide ensemble in Hampshire for 5 years, taking on the responsibilities of principle saxophonist in each. In these ensembles, I was able to tour around Europe, playing in Berlin, Prague and the Black Forest, as well as many others! These were amazing opportunities which allowed me to visit places I may not otherwise have been able to see.
When I was 15, my school big band were lucky enough to be invited to play at the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland – we played two shows to an audience of around 600 people, and it was the best experience of my life! Consequently, we were invited back again for two consecutive years. The same year, our big band and wind band won the regional Music for Youth competition and made it through to perform in the finals, held at Birmingham Symphony Hall, one of the country’s most incredible concert halls.
As I got older and joined college, more opportunities arose for me. I began to learn the clarinet, which allowed to me perform in pit bands for various musicals, such as‘Anything Goes and Guys and Dolls. I soon realised my immense love for playing in pit bands for musicals, because the vibe is really exciting and the music itself is so much fun to play! It was here that I truly began to appreciate the community that playing music allows you to be a part of.
Last year, I was a founding member of a student led wind ensemble which was assembled by a close friend of mine. What began as just a wind ensemble grew into an orchestra, big band and string ensemble that still put on concerts today, including a jazz evening this Easter! We play a mixed range of repertoire, from Holst’s First Suite in Eb to Malcom Arnold’s Four Scottish Dances.
In my final year of college, I played alongside the Scots Guard at Buckingham Palace with Hampshire County Youth Wind Ensemble, performing the Lord of the Rings symphony. To play amongst such talented musicians was amazing! Also, in April 2018, the same ensemble was invited to perform at the Royal Albert Hall and participate in the ‘Hampshire at the Hall’ event that had been organised by Hampshire Music Service. Our group played A Jazz Funeral by Christopher Coleman, which features two complicated alto saxophone solos which I was lucky enough to play. This was a truly nerve-wracking but extraordinary experience which I will never forget.
As a law student at Kent, I continue to enjoy music as an extra-curricular activity and as a way to relax after lectures and seminars. I am part of the University’s Concert Band, Big Band, Chorus, Cecilian Choir and Symphony Orchestra and Flute Choir.
I have also met many amazing people through music at Kent and am extremely grateful to be a recipient of the Music Performance Scholarship.
Read about other Music Scholars and Award Holders in the dedicated column here.
Two events in three days with which to catch up, Loyal Readers!
Last Saturday brought the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra together in a programme combining music from the past with reimaginings from a modern perspective: Vivaldi’s dramatic iMagnificat, two of Handel’s bombastic Coronation Anthems, Walton’s recasting of Bach in The Wise Virgins, Matthew King’s orchestral vision of Mozart’s piece for mechanical organ, and Respighi’s light-footed Ancient Airs and Dances Suite no.2.
Director of Music Susan Wanless wielded the baton in front of the assembled masses to a packed house, and it was lovely to welcome back some familiar faces and musical alumni to take part in the performance.
Last night, it was the turn of the University Chamber Choir to participate in the Carol Service, an evocative event at Canterbury Cathedral bringing together members from across the University community in a programme of lessons and carols to explore the season of Advent.
Second-year Music Scholar, Hannah Ost (pictured here in rehearsal), launched the service in energetic fashion conducting Gaudete.
Elsewhere, Your Loyal Correspondent directed the eighteen-piece choir in a lyrically colourful setting of Lullay My Liking by Will Inscoe, a sixth-form pupil at St Edmund’s School, and a deft Ding Dong! Merrily on High. Earlier on, second-year postgraduate Law student and Music Scholar, Helen Sotillo, ushered in the Christmas season with a clarion-clear solo verse of Once In Royal David’s City – as it lifted into the upper reaches of the Nave, the season unfurled above the heads of the assembled congregation, stood in an expectant, candlelit hush.
Next up: tomorrow brings a Christmas lunchtime concert with the Flute Choir and Minerva Voices, and later the annual festive knees-up that is the Big Band’s Christmas Swingalong. Well, it IS the season…
We’re delighted to reveal the new season of our What’s On is now launched online!
Our customary Lunchtime Concert series this term brings the Ferio Saxophone Quartet, an exploration of the music to Hitchcock’s classic Vertigo and seasonal music from the CantiaQuorum ensemble; the University Chorus and Orchestra explore the ‘Old and New’ in a programme of seventeenth century music and modern realisations and responses to it; the University Musical Theatre Society performs its termly showcase including songs from Chicago, Hamilton and Dream Girls, and the term concludes in festive style with the traditional Christmas Swing-Along featuring the University Big Band.
Together with the Canterbury Festival, we also bring a dark realisation of the story of Hansel and Gretel in a blend of chamber music, puppetry and animation, with music written by composer Matthew Kaner to words by Simon Armitage; the Festival also brings percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie and Trio HLK in November. Elsewhere, Aurora Orchestra brings Mozart, Mendelssohn and Jorg Widmann, and there’s a chance to hear Sir Thomas Allen. With visits too from local societies and orchestras, the new autumn season will see Colyer-Fergusson Hall filled with music old and new as we head towards the festive season.
See all that’s to come online here, or download the brochure (PDF) here; we look forward to welcoming you to Colyer-Fergusson over the coming months.
Congratulations to all the performers involved in Saturday night’s annual Colyer-Fergusson Concert, which saw the Nave of Canterbury Cathedral resounding to the heroic strains of Beethoven, Haydn and the premiere of a new work by Matthew King.
The Chorus and Orchestra came together under the baton of Susan Wanless in Haydn’s dramatic ‘Nelson Mass,’ joined by several alumni, and the Orchestra (led by final-year Law student and Music Scholar, Lydia Cheng), delivered Beethoven’s mighty Eroica symphony with aplomb.
Composer Matthew King and family were present for the first performance of Matthew’s A Hero Passes, an orchestral tribute to his late father, James King OBE, with which the concert opened. Matthew attended rehearsals the night before and on the morning at the Cathedral.
Thanks to all the behind-the-scenes crew as well, on what is a particularly long day; here’s Your Loyal Correspondent and the Music Administrator clearly early on the day…There are still plenty of events to come over the next few weeks: see what’s next here.
The University Symphony Orchestra is industriously rehearsing ahead of this Saturday’s annual Colyer-Fergusson concert in Canterbury Cathedral, and this year unveils a commission by the University Music department from Kent-based composer and Professor of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, Matthew King.
Matthew’s piece will share the Nave with two musical titans; Beethoven’s Eroica Symphony and Haydn’s ‘Nelson Mass;’ I caught up with Matthew ahead of this Saturday’s premiere to ask him about the work and the concepts behind it.
How does your piece relate to (or take on!) the two titans on the programme: Beethoven and Haydn?
I didn’t really want to ‘take them on’. Obviously Beethoven’s Eroica is this massive event at the dawn of Romanticism (a bit like Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring at the start of Modernism) and Haydn’s Nelson Mass is one of a set of pieces which he wrote at the end of his life – it’s only called ‘Nelson Mass’ because Horatio Nelson happened to attend an early performance – but I believe Haydn’s original title was ‘Mass for Troubled Times’ which I have to admit still seems a very relevant title! In any case, both of the ‘titan’ works you mention have an essentially public quality, whereas my piece is very different… and much more intimate in character. Two things connect my piece to Beethoven though: one is the ‘heroic’ key of E flat major (also the key of ‘Nimrod’ in Elgar’s Enigma Variations) and the other is the prominent use of three french horns.
Yours is a highly personal response to the commission request: did this make it easier or harder to write ?
Well easier, in the sense that it was really the only way that I could respond to the idea of ‘heroism’ at the time. But it was written as a tribute to my Dad, who died in March 2017, and that made the process of composing it quite raw emotionally. When you are a small child you tend to view your parents in a heroic way, and in fact Dad had some of the right attributes: he was very tall and good-looking and also very kind. As you get older you realise your parents are human beings with their own foibles, but in Dad’s case his essential kindness always shone through. He ran a special school and, when he died, there were many lovely tributes written about him by young people he’d helped over the years. I guess I wanted my piece to be a kind of pre-verbal tribute, at some kind of deep emotional level. I don’t mean it’s a great emotional splurge – simply that it tries to get to grips with mourning and loss and reflection in quite a measured way.
‘Hero’ can be a very tricky term: how did you deal with it ? I’m thinking it can easily date, or the sense that one man’s hero is often another’s villain…
Yes. I suppose the old idea of heroism as associated with political power, or military strength or whatever, is rather problematic nowadays. I guess there’s a vestige of that old notion of ‘hero’ in the way we view someone like Winston Churchill, or public figures like Martin Luther King or Emmeline Pankhurst: people who prevailed against evil and injustice on a huge scale. I’m also interested in ‘quiet heroism’ – the many unnoticed acts of kindness and generosity that go on all the time. Even in the recent snowy weather there were all sorts of reports of really marvellous acts of quiet heroism from people who certainly didn’t stop to think whether they were being heroic or not. In fact perhaps one definition of heroism might be ‘selfless acts of generosity undertaken by people who have no idea that what they are being is heroic!’
Did the fact that it’s being performed in the Cathedral have any influence or effect on the piece ?
Yes, actually it did. I’ve written for that space a few times. Back in the 1990s I wrote a very big community opera called Jonah which was staged in the Nave, and I learned quite a lot of things from that experience! It’s an awe inspiring building of course, and it has a really huge acoustic which can be difficult to handle, especially in music that has rapid harmonic change. I keep the harmonic pace of my music quite slow, and I tried to create orchestral effects that would blend well with the resonance of the building. I also make use of the space by locating the principal trumpet player up in the organ loft so that his solos come down from on high!
Who are your musical heroes ?
Well they tend to be whoever I’m listening to at the time so it changes from week to week really: recently I’ve been watching some of the great Hitchcock movies with my family and finding renewed admiration for Bernard Herrmann, I’ve been reading all of Jane Austen’s novels and have really been blown away by her marvellous talent. I’ve been listening to Duke Ellington’s Far East Suite and loving it’s raw energy. My daughters like Beyoncé’s Lemonade and I think it’s exciting when (and this is quite rare) musical talent and commercial success are completely compatible!
A friend introduced me last week to the controversial American cultural commentator, Camille Paglia, and I thought she was interesting. I’ve been playing some extraordinary meditative music by Federico Mompou, the Catalan composer on the piano.
Next month it will be a different list!
Matthew’s A Hero Passes will be given its premiere on Saturday 10 March in Canterbury Cathedral by the University Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Susan Wanless; details here.
Continuing the series profiling Music Scholarship students at the University of Kent. This week, first-year violinist reading Psychology with Forensic Psychology, Melody Brooks.
Being part of a musical family and having such a musical name, it seems only natural that would be drawn to music. My parents have fostered in me a love of all genres of music, and waited for me to decide which instruments I wanted to play.
The first instrument I chose was the violin, after seeing an orchestra perform at my primary school. Flute and piano soon followed. After gaining entrance to my secondary school (Parmiter’s School) because of my music, I was encouraged to participate in a number of musical groups including Orchestra, Junior and Senior Flute Choir (in which I took the opportunity to play piccolo, alto flute and bass flute), Senior String Ensemble and Concert Band.
I also studied Music at GCSE and AS-Level, which widened my exposure to different genres of music and allowed me to truly appreciate composers and performers alike. I also participated in the school play, Lady Windermere’s Fan, as part of the musical ensemble.
Outside of school, I participated in the CAN Music Academy (Children Achieving Now) in both the orchestra and the choir. I also participated in the Kuyumba Youth Music (KYM) String Orchestra. The KYM experience was one of growth, as it was an extremely competitive environment based on merit and fostered in me the spirit of hard work and practice.
Singing was always encouraged in my church, and my church is well-known for its lively, inviting music. Often, I would participate in a string ensemble or play violin to accompany a meditational song. From the age of 11, I was encouraged to lead Praise and Worship with my friends, singing gospel music. We then formed a singing group called ‘Amplified Praise’ and sang in venues such as the ExCel London Centre and Pontins in Wales.
Here at Kent, I currently play in the Symphony Orchestra and String Sinfonia. I have enjoyed being a member of both groups. The Orchestra is amazing and is exposing me to different composers. String Sinfonia is smaller, but just as much fun. I love being able to develop my skills alongside those more able than me and to enjoy music once again.
We are delighted that actor Simon Paisley Day will be joining us next week, to read sections of Shakespeare’s Henry V as part of a performance of Walton’s score to the film during our December concert.
Sounding Shakespeare brings the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra together on Saturday 10 December to round off the 400th anniversary of the death of the Bard, including music by Mendelssohn, Bernstein and Rutter, and Simon will be taking part in the performance of the film score Walton composed for the famed film of Henry V starting Laurence Olivier, originally written in 1944 and converted into a suite in 1963.
Since leaving the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in 1991, Simon has worked extensively in the theatre, on screen and on radio, playing a great number of Shakespearean roles, including Malvolio in Twelfth Night and Horatio in Hamlet at the National Theatre, Iachimo in Cymbeline at Regent’s Park, Timon in Timon of Athens, Petruchio in The Taming of the Shrew at Shakespeare’s Globe and, most recently, Antony in Antony and Cleopatra at The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles. Last Christmas he appeared as the Onceler in Dr Seuss’s The Lorax at the Old Vic in London.
Join us on Saturday 10 December for what promises to be an epic odyssey in words and music; details here.
Because it does. Doesn't it ? Blogging about extra-curricular musical life at the University of Kent.