A packed Canterbury Cathedral was the backdrop to Saturday’s performance by the University Chorus and Symphony Orchestra of Berlioz’s epic Symphonie fantastique and Beethoven’s rousing Mass in C.
The long day began bright and early with the crew arriving at the concert-hall to load two vans with all the equipment needed, and unfolded across the day with the arrival of additional percussion in the form of two tuned bells and an additional timp, plus not one but two harpists.
Soloists Sally Silver and Kiri Parker were joined by University alumni Andrew Macnair and Piran Legg for the Beethoven, which in a hushed ‘Agnus Dei’ brought the concert to a close.
The Orchestra and Chorus will be back in action next month on Sunday 3 April in a Sunday afternoon programme of music by Copland, Bernstein and Gershwin.
The mightiest orchestra the University Music department has ever assembled will gather next week, as the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra come together for a revolutionary tale of dreams, dances, hallucinations and desire in Canterbury Cathedral on Saturday 5 March.
Under the incisive baton of Susan Wanless, the Orchestra will perform one of the most exciting, revolutionary pieces in the repertoire, Berlioz’s Symphonie fantastique, a story of hopeless passion, unrequited love and hallucinogenic visions, with its famous ball scene, the March to the Scaffold and terrifying final bacchanalian revelry of sorcerers and witches. In the immortal words of conductor Leonard Bernstein – ‘Berlioz tells it like it is. You take a trip, you wind up screaming at your own funeral.’
The second half of the concert brings in the University Chorus for a performance of Beethoven’s Mass in C, with four outstanding soloists Sally Silver, Kiri Parker and University alumni Andrew Macnair and Piran Legg.
Susan Wanless is particularly excited at the prospect of unleashing Berlioz’s masterpiece in the Cathedral in the annual Colyer-Fergusson concert, always one of the highlights of the University year. ‘To present such spectacular pieces, complete with off-stage instruments and massive orchestral forces, will be thrilling for both the performers and audience alike!’
The Orchestra has been hard at work industriously rehearsing for next week’s epic performance, and the concert promises to be an occasion not to be missed: tickets and details online here. Prepare to be led on a whirlwind of love, death and dance next week…
Continuing the series profiling Music Scholarship students at the University of Kent; this week, first-year Physics student and tuba player, Edward Styles.
In the past I have had many musical opportunities in bands and orchestras in an around my county including the Devon Youth Wind Orchestra, Devon County Youth Brass Band and the School band at Ivybridge Community College. These bands have helped me progress in music throughout my school years with their challenging and exciting repertoire. The bands have toured in many different countries including France, Italy and Spain. I have also attended a work experience with HM Royal Marine Band Service where I got to perform in a concert with them.
I have also been a member of the Royal Navy Volunteer Band in HMS Drake situated in Plymouth for three years, which holds many concerts throughout the year. I was the soloist playing bass in the Ballroom for Volunteer Band in their annual competition against the other Military Volunteer bands across the country. The band was awarded runner-up for that year. The volunteer band also trains for marching and I have learnt many marching routines throughout the time I have been there.
I have also performed Øystein Baadsvik’s Fnugg Blue for solo tuba which is a very technical piece of music as it requires the performer to sing at the same time as play their instrument. The pieces also includes beat-boxing. If you have not heard of it you definitely should look it up! [Here’s a brilliant introduction to the piece, in which the composer himself takes you through the piece’s inception. And talks about skiing, hunting and moose…]
At the University of Kent, I am a member of the Orchestra which is a great opportunity for me to enjoy classical music as until now I have not been in any full orchestras. I am very proud to have been accepted in the Orchestra as it produces such a great sound and the members are all at such a high level in performance. I am also a member of the University Concert Band which has a exquisite supply of fantastic pieces that we play! All of which give me great pleasure when performing with them.
This year I have started a new, small ensemble which concentrates on Bavarian oom pah music; however the band is also very fluid and we are planning to extend our repertoire to anything the members wish to perform. This is to allow the members to perform great pieces in a band without having the hassle of tracking down a full band sheet music score. The band consists of two clarinets, two trumpets, one trombone and a tuba. We have not had any concerts yet as we only started practicing in December 2015!
Our new What’s Onseries of events from February to June has gone live this morning, with full details of all the events coming at you over the next six months.
Our annual visits to Canterbury Cathedral sees Minerva Voices in the Crypt next month in Vivaldi’s Gloria, whilst the Chorus and Orchestra come together in Beethoven’s Mass in C and the Symphonie fantastique by Berlioz in March. The first of two concerts from the Cecilian Choir and Sinfonia will recreate the era of Louis XIV in a lunchtime concert celebrating the music of Lully in February, and at the end of March they bring two dramatic choral works by Vivaldi to St Peter’s Methodist Church in Canterbury. You’re also invited to leap aboard the Musical Express! with the Concert and Big Bands later in March, with a steam-driven programme including music by Benny Goodman, Duke Ellington and Philip Sparke.
The Lunchtime Concert series continues, with music from Total Brass and the Native Oyster Band, and our resident ensemble, CantiaQuorum, brings Wynton Marsalis’ Fiddler’s Tale to the concert-hall on 19 February – the American theme continues in April with a concert by the Chorus and Orchestra including Gershwin’s popular Rhapsody in Blue with pianist Helen Crayford. And the #EarBoxseries exploring links between music and visual art returns to Studio 3 Gallery in two events – choral music from Minerva Voices and a concert by the Flute Choir. The Music Theatre Society takes the stage with some furry friends in a combination of puppetry and show-tunes, and there’s even some musical wizardry as part of ‘A Wonderful Week of Words’ in an informal lunchtime concert featuring music from Harry Potter and other magical pieces. There’s also a brief look ahead to come of the events taking place as part of Summer Music Week in June.
We’re also pleased to welcome many external concerts and events to Colyer-Fergusson over the coming months, including pianists Malcom Binns and Imogen Cooper, the Aurora Orchestra, and many local ensembles; see all that’s to come in our online calendar here, or download a copy of the new brochure here (pdf). Or view the department events at a glance on our digital fridge-door of post-It Notes here.
It’s been a busy few days here in the Music department, a sure sign that the Christmas period is well and truly here.
Last weekend, the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra came together in a seasonal performance of Vaughan Williams’ The First Nowell, brimful of carols familiar and unfamiliar; Shostakovich’s wry Symphony no.9 stepped out in sprightly form in the first half, and the Chorus also turned their hand to international linguistics with the choral interlude in Finlandia. There was a suitably seasonal conviviality to the hubbub backstage, including the taking of many selfies and a competition to see who could fit the largest number of performers into their selfie, a feat won hands-down by clarinettist Rianna Carr, whose prize-winning photo can be seen online somewhere on Twitter…
And last night, Minerva Voices, the new upper-voices choir, filled the Nave of Canterbury Cathedral as part of the annual University Carol Service, including a soaring rendition of the opening verse of Once in Royal David’s City from second-year BioSciences student and Music Scholar, Charlotte Webb.
It doesn’t stop there; tomorrow sees a festive ‘Watch This Space’ on the foyer-stage, and later the Big Band gets its Christmas swing on with its now traditional Christmas Swingalong. ‘Tis the season to be really rather jolly indeed!
The termly Lunchtime Concert Series opens next month with a recital of Baroque recorder music by Naomi Okuda Wooderson, and a musical aperitif from our ensemble-in-residence, CantiaQuorum, of music by Saint-Saens, Stravinsky and Torelli prior to their evening concert; we launch our December seasonal music with A Baroque Christmas, including movements from Handel’s Messiah and Vivaldi’s Winter from the Cecilian Choir, String Sinfonia and soloists; the Christmas theme continues with a rare performance of Vaughan Williams’ The First Nowell by the Chorus and Orchestra, together with works by Sibelius and Shostokovich, and the term is rounded out with the now-customary Christmas Swing-along from the Big Band. There’s also an antidote to wintry blues from Kasai Masai as they bring the infectious rhythms and melodies of Congolese music for the final Lunchtime Concert, and the Musical Theatre Society will be inviting you to ‘Do a Little Duet’ with them too.
We welcome a host of visiting ensembles and musicians to Colyer-Fergusson throughout the term, including Trevor Pinnock as he brings Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas, and there are two events as part of this year’s Canterbury Festival; find out about all these and more online here– printed brochures will be arriving around the start of the term. Find out what’s in store…
Summer Music Week came to a flourishing finale on Saturday, as the last two days of our week-long end-of-year celebration seemed to go in a flash.
Friday afternoon saw the Music Theatre Society previewing their ‘Send in the Showtunes’ showcase on the foyer-stage at lunchtime, with some characterful renditions of parts of Little Shop of Horrors and Cabaret. The evening concert featured the Chamber and Cecilian Choirs in choral music from the Renaissance to the present-day – another opportunity to feature the new departmental harpsichord, in Monteverdi’s Beatus Vir – including the premiere of Ringing Changes by composer Matthew King, blending choral music with electronics.
The foyer and concert-hall were in their decorative best on Saturday for Music for a Summer’s Day, the traditional finale featuring the Chorus, Orchestra and Chamber Choir bidding a final farewell to the musical year. There were tears, too, as final-year sopranos Kathryn Cox and Rowena Murrell stepped out from the Chorus’s bustling West Side Story medley to sing You’ll Never Walk Alone, and also as all those performing with the department for the final time stood for their applause. The Chamber Choir moved from the atmospheric landscape of Chydenius’ Autumn under final-year Emma Murton to lively pop and close-harmony jazz; Michael Sosinski handled his cork-popping solo in the Champagne Polka with regal dignity; and the concluding chorus of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ was conducted with great aplomb by Pro Vice-Chancellor, Keith Mander, a terrific champion of music at the University, for whom this was the last concert.
The sunshine was also on hand as performers, parents and guests mingled on the Registry lawn for post-performance cream teas, and the opportunity to say goodbye.
You can see photos from throughout the week over on our Pinterest board. Formal photographs from the week will be appearing shortly; stay tuned…
Because it does. Doesn't it ? Blogging about extra-curricular musical life at the University of Kent.