Tag Archives: Orchestra

Around the blogs this week…

 

Over on ‘Cantus Firmus,’ the Chamber Choir is preparing for its first concert commitment this year, the Advent concert in Blean – this week’s post sees the Choir developing a mixed-formation ensemble sound… Whilst on ‘Playing Up!‘ the tuba-playing Society President Chris Gray muses on the impact of last weekend’s workshop with the Symphony Orchestra. The Medway Music Society also had the first round of their epic ‘Battle of the Bands’ which kicked off in Coopers on Tuesday night.

Writing
Mightier than the sword...

It’s all go…

Was It Good For You: Mariah Mazur.

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Mariah Mazur.

—————-

Mariah Mazur
Mariah Mazur

When were you at Kent ?

2002 – 2006

What subject did you study ?

Drama and Italian, Joint Honours

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

Management Consulting. Self-employed harpist.

If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical experiences now ?

Yes, I play with chamber orchestras, symphonies, teach harp lessons, as well as many other events and concerts.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

I played in the Orchestra for four years, and was also the recipient of music scholarship.

What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent ?

Being the recipient of a music scholarship at Kent provided the opportunity for me to study with harp professors at the Royal Academy of Music, an incomparable experience.  I was also able to perform in such unique and varied settings, encouraging my confidence as a musician. The connections that I made and the experiences I enjoyed continue to enrich my life today.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

The opportunity to perform Mozart’s Flute and Harp concerto to a sold-out audience in the Gulbenkian Theatre was the paramount occasion of my time studying at the University of Kent.

—-

If you’re an alumnus and would like to be featured, get in touch via the Music Department website: we’d love to hear from you!

Was It Good For You: Christiane Litman

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Christiane Litman.

—————-

Christiane Litman
Crossing the border: Christiane Litman

When were you at Kent ?

From Sept 2002 – July 2005

What subject did you study ?

BA (Hons) in English Culture and Language/ Comparative Literature.

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

Primary School Teacher (I was music coordinator in my previous school)

If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical experiences now ?

Yes, I sing in a church choir, a university chorus (Glyndwr in Wrexham, North Wales) and a professional chamber choir called Voices of the North. I also play the viola in the Chester Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition, I help run the junior choristers in my church.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

I played the viola in the Orchestra, as well as in the Camerata during my degree. During my first year I was also part of a student-run string quartet.

What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent ?

It gave me a circle of friends which was unrelated to just my degree studies. Through my involvement in music I also met my husband in Canterbury during my first year. Having played in the orchestra, following my degree I joined the Maidstone Symphony Orchestra for a while and then rejoined the university orchestra for a couple of concerts before relocating to North Wales.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

Playing the children’s concerts with the Camerata- always great fun and the children’s faces when they came to “try out” at the end are unforgettable. Particularly their confusion when I explained that my instrument was not a violin!

What would you say to current musical students at the University ?
Have fun! And if you get the chance, also get involved in music outside of uni. There’s lots going on in Canterbury and the more you can do, the wider your experience is going to be.
—-

If you’re an alumnus and would like to be featured, get in touch via the Music Department website: we’d love to hear from you!

Was It Good For You: Dan Wheeler.

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Dan Wheeler.

—————-

Dan Wheeler
Brass cheek: Dan Wheeler

When were you at Kent ?

I was at Kent from 2005-08, although I never quite got around to leaving Canterbury…

What subject did you study ?

Law, although from about the second term onwards you would have thought I was doing a Music degree!

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

The civil service, occasionally making use of my degree!

If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical experiences now ?

Having never left Canterbury I am still involved in music at the University; singing in the University Chorus whilst also playing tuba and bass guitar in the University Concert and Big Band. I also sing regularly with St Stephen’s church choir (based in the Hales Place area) in weekly services, occasionally covering Evensong services at Canterbury and Rochester Cathedrals.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

In almost every way possible! I have sung in Chorus and Chamber Choir, played tuba in Concert Band and Orchestra and playing until recently in the Orchestra. In my final year I completed the set by running the Music Society as president.

What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent ?

Without my University music experience I would not have had the confidence to be where I am today, leaving home and starting a new life in Canterbury. I would not have met all the wonderful people I have come across during my time in numerous rehearsals and made some great friends along the way!

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

Performing the solo in Cornelius’ Three Kings to almost 1000 people in Canterbury Cathedral in the 2006 carol service; that and sitting through my debut Big Band gig after my guitar broke on the first note…!

What would you say to current musical students at the University ?

I would encourage all musical students to get involved in as much as possible, it is much more enjoyable than the degree (although admittedly this is coming from a law graduate) and from extensive experience of job hunting (!) I invariably end up being asked more about my musical activities than the degree itself!

—-

If you’re an alumnus and would like to be featured, get in touch via the Music Department website: we’d love to hear from you!

Was It Good For You: Mick Norman.

Continuing the series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Mick Norman.

—————-

Mick Norman
Still pulling strings: Mick Norman

When were you at Kent ?

I started my studies at Kent in 2004 and graduated in 2007 but I’m still here…albeit as a member of staff! 

What subject did you study ?

Law 

What occupation are you now engaged in ?

I am currently working as the Faculty Learning Technologist for Social Sciences at the University of Kent…which in English means that I support Schools at the University using technology to enhance learning and teaching in the classroom and online.  It’s a complete departure from my degree but I absolutely love it! 

If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical experiences now ?

I’m currently a member of the University Symphony Orchestra, playing second violin, as well as performing with the University Camerata (Chamber Orchestra) and I occasionally play for local choirs when they require an orchestra. 

I also play electric violin in my band, Belleville (http://www.bellevillemusic.co.uk), and for my Church worship band. 

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

As well as playing for the University Symphony Orchestra and Camerata, I was also awarded a bursary which allowed me to continue having lessons with some excellent teachers. In my final year I was the Concert Assistant for the lunchtime concerts. 

I was also part of the Music Society committee for the duration of my studies, as joint Social Secretary for one year and Publicity Officer for my final year.  This involved helping to organise many musical events, including the Cathedral concerts and the first ever (and subsequent) ArtsFest! 

What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent ?

The wide range musical opportunities at Kent mean that music can become such a huge part of your life and your University experience as a whole.  Without the musical activities I took part in, my University experience would have been very different one so I think the most important thing I gained from my University music experience is an amazing three years at Kent that I will look back on with fond memories for the rest of my life. 

Has my University music experience helped me since leaving Kent?  Well, you could say that I haven’t really left, but in the spirit of the question I would say that my University music experience helps me every single day.  In fact, I have so many examples that I’m going to write a separate post for the Music Matters blog! 

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

I’m going to cheat and claim two most memorable moments, my first being  Verdi’s Requiem in Canterbury Cathedral which was an amazing experience and one I’ll never forget: Full Symphony Orchestra, off-stage trumpets high up in the organ loft, 200+ chorus and a bass drum taller than me!  The second is watching the fireworks display over the Cathedral with friends after the Prom concert at ArtsFest and then sitting on the grass between Rutherford and Eliot until the early hours of the morning. 

What would you say to current musical students at the University ?

Get involved in everything you can!  You’ll make some great friends along the way and have memories you’ll be looking back on for years to come.

—-

If you’re an alumnus and would like to be featured, get in touch via the Music Department website: we’d love to hear from you!

Was It Good For You: Jo Pearsall.

A series profiling musical alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Jo Pearsall. 

Jo Pearsall
On song: Jo Pearsall.

—————- 

When were you at Kent ? 

1989 to 1992 to study – from 2002 as a member of staff  

 What subject did you study ? 

History  

What occupation are you now engaged in ? 

Administrative Assistant, Central Secretariat, University of Kent  

If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical experiences now ? 

Yes: I am a member of the University of Kent Symphony Orchestra, strategically placed at the back of the first violins.  I also sing with the Cecilian Choir, a small group of staff, students and alumni that’s a new venture this year, and I’ve also sung at Jazz @ 5.  I am a member of a chamber choir in Canterbury called Cantemus.  I also do other bits of singing and playing here and there. 

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ? 

I was President of the Music Society!  Actually I couldn’t begin to list all of the music that I was involved in whilst at Kent, even if my poor old memory could remember it all, but highlights were singing in summer opera projects, playing in the Symphony Orchestra, singing with the Chamber Choir including a particularly memorable trip to Prague, playing in the orchestra pit of The Pyjama Game at the Marlowe Theatre, playing for various other dramatic performances and singing at ad hoc occasions including in local churches and at high table dinners. 

What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent ? 

A huge amount of experience both musically and organisationally that has stood me in good stead to this day and probably led to my getting my first proper job.  

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ? 

Probably having a small solo part in the opera Die Fledermaus in 1992 at the Gulbenkian Theatre.  A gorgeous dress was made specially for me to wear which was too exciting!  I have been mercilessly mocked about my “acting” skills ever since. 

What would you say to current musical students at the University ? 

Enjoy yourselves, take part in lots of musical activities and organise some too and remember that the friends that you are making whilst making music now are probably the ones you will still have in twenty years’ time, so make sure you look after each other. 

—- 

If you’re a musical alumnus and would like to be featured, please get in touch via the Music Department website: we’d love to hear from you!

Was It Good For You: Adam Beaman

Continuing the series profiling muscial alumni of the University of Kent. This week, Adam Beaman.

—————-

Adam Beaman
Looking sharp: Adam Beaman

When were you at Kent ? 

1989-1993

What subject did you study ?

Philosophy 

What occupation are you now engaged in ? 

 Auditor for a bookshop chain

If music is not your profession, do you participate in any musical experiences now ?

Only when sat next to Sophie Meikle.

How were you involved in music whilst at Kent ?

I turned up to Orchestra most weeks, in fact twenty years later I am still sitting in the same place…

What did you gain from your University music experience, and has this helped you in any way since leaving Kent ?

I got a lot of love and friendship.

What was your most memorable musical experience at Kent ?

I still haven’t fully recovered from an experience in the OTE.

What would you say to current musical students at the University ?

Hello!

—-

If you’re an alumnus and would like to be featured, get in touch via the Music Department website: we’d love to hear from you!

A Day In The Life: Chris Gray

An occasional series featuring guest posts and contributions. 

—————- 

This post comes from Music Scholar and first-year  Architecture student, Chris Gray. Chris plays tuba in the University Symphony Orchestra and Concert Band, and sings bass with the Chamber Choir and the Cecilian Choir.  Chris has previously been Principal Tuba with the Wessex Youth Orchestra for three years, and lives in Poole in Dorset.  He recently played in the University’s Colyer-Fergusson Concert in Canterbury Cathedral. 

Chris Gray
Top brass: Chris Gray.

—————– 

Bleurgh. 9am. Is all this really worth it? 

Saturday 13th March. Eliot College music store room. Day of the Cathedral Concert. 

I guess this was it, the start of a long day, culminating, hopefully, in a wondrous concert. That last sentence is tinged with doubt, not because I have no faith in my fellow musicians, but because on the day of a big concert like this, doubts do start creeping up into your mind about your own musical ability, and being a tuba player, you have good reason to!  Hitting the top A in the Strauss, playing the octave jumps in the Poulenc…. 

I started off the day doing what I am useful for, moving heavy percussion. We successfully threaded the timpani through a tightly-packed store room and through the bowels of Eliot College. I took great delight in marching with the bass drum, banging it loudly informing the residents of Eliot College of my impending heroics lifting timpani into the idling van outside…. more like trying to wake everyone up to let them share the beautiful crisp spring morning with me and the other musicians up at this torrid hour. 

A very nervous journey in the percussion van from campus to the Cathedral ensued with glances back at the precious cargo every time we heard a bang or crash. We arrived in the Cathedral Precincts and proceeded to unload the van, carrying the percussion down a small make-shift corridor, through the South door and into the Nave. 

The Cathedral was already a hive of activity with vergers, members of the chorus and various students and staff from the University milling around tending to their jobs. Once we had located and set up the timps, we started on the chairs for the orchestra under the expert guidance of Sophie and Dan Wheeler. I had heard that fitting the orchestra in between the towering columns of the Nave was a difficult job with no room for error. 

We started with the timpani, then the woodwind making sure that the principals of the woodwind section were directly in front of the podium….. one of Sophie’s pet hates. Then the brass in two rows so the lower brass could deafen the trumpets who in turn could inflict ear-splitting terror on the violas. The strings worked out nicely and with the podium for the conductor and soloists in the correct place, in accordance with Health & Safety providing a 1.4m gap around all obstacles, it was done. I stepped back…. plenty of room, don’t know what the fuss was about!! 

Then I saw where I would be sitting….. 

Words cannot describe the predicament I would be in. Stuck behind a pillar, wedged between a desk of the double basses and the timpani, I dreaded the moment when ‘the listener is catapulted headlong into a torrid allegro’…. (Sue’s programme notes). I thought I would never get the downbeat in the right place…. What if I came in a bar early….? 

Then the long and arduous process of seating the chorus took place. To liken it to a familiar occurrence would be like watching the start of the London Marathon, yet the athletes were tethered down and then when they did break free of their reigns, they would be running on treacle… 

Rehearsals started dead-on 11.15am…. yeah right, on days like this you can bet your house that they don’t, it’s something about a large group of chattering people in a confined space that seems to make you lose track of time. 

Rehearsals began with the Szymanowski, so time for coffee for the lower brass players or in my case a lovely white Malteser milkshake! One thing I noticed whilst watching the rehearsals, was the length of acoustic in the cathedral. 3 seconds! How we would pull of the Strauss or the delicacy of the Poulenc was beyond me, but somehow in this setting, the pieces seemed to fit and gel with the architecture of the building. Good choice of programme, I’d say! 

Then came my moment of glory, my incredibly important part in the Poulenc, all 33 bars of it! I do like the piece, I just find it hard to look past the part I’m playing and listen to the overall work, listening to it, here, now, in the comfort of my own room you can appreciate the ‘juxtaposing of thematic cells’… (Sue’s programme notes again). 

Poulenc done. 15 minutes for lunch…. yes I know, that is how committed we musicians are! 

Onto the Strauss which does have a very nice tuba part. I enjoyed playing this, although the droves of Cathedral visitors milling around during rehearsal not only annoyed Sue but most of the orchestra as well. Nothing like the musical setting of the transfiguration of a dying artist to the backdrop of chattering schoolchildren. Strauss almost done, but no, we need to rehearse the last 6 bars over and over to try and kill the brass… Then onto the Ravel (sorry not much to say about this, I went outside). 

2.15 came, relaxed for the rest of the day. DJ – check. Time to go!!! 

7.30 concert time. Well not for me, I watched from the sideline as Ravel and Szymanowski didn’t want me in their music. It was interesting to watch people prepare for the concert the inexperienced paced… the experienced laughed and joked about the inexperienced. First half finished after amazing performances from orchestra, choir and soloists. 

Then came the second half and it was time to play some Strauss. I kept fiddling with my bowtie, asking people if it looked right or not, but in the end it didn’t matter because I was sat behind a pillar! The Strauss went well, and it was amazing to be part of such a large orchestra, now, after weeks of rehearsals, playing as such a coherent group of musicians as one huge music making machine churning out bar after bar of absolute perfection. Sorry, got carried away in the music there… it happens. Then the Poulenc, the wonderful individuality of this underrated French composer coupled with the skills of Sue bringing chorus, orchestra and soloist into a blazing finale. Blazing finale meaning fading away into nothing! 

The audience loved it, the Cathedral had been filled with vocalists and instrumentalists alike, and we did ourselves proud. On the drive back to campus from the Cathedral, I asked myself the same question that I asked myself that morning, some 13.5 hours ago… 

Was it worth it? 

Oh yes.. most definitely.