Congratulations to all the members of the University Cecilian Choir and Consort on last Friday’s night’s premiere of the new commission piece by Russell Hepplewhite.
The combination of words, music and images brought the new setting of the Magnificat, in which the sacred text was interspersed by new poetry by Nancy Gaffield, to vivid life. The Choir and strings, comprising students and staff from across the University, came together in vibrant form to deliver an accomplished performance of a brand-new work, always a challenge and especially in front of a live audience including both composer and poet!
If you missed it, the piece will be performed again on Friday 9 June as part of this year’s Summer Music Week, our annual music festival bringing the musical year to a close.
As part of the Music department’s observing of the anniversary of World War One, including the Battle of the Somme, three events next week.
On Thursday 10 November, a special performance by the Cecilian Choir, conducted by Your Loyal Correspondent, commemorates the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme with a new choral piece written by American composer David Lang in Studio 3 Gallery. Memorial Ground is an evocative, haunting meditation on the Battle of the Somme, but also reaches beyond it to commemorate all those who have lost their lives in conflict ever since. The piece was commissioned as part of the nationwide 14-18NOW project.
As part of a national series of performances, Memorial Ground is the Pulitzer-prize-winning composer’s response to the anniversary, written in such a way as to allow choirs around the country to realise the piece in whatever way is appropriate to their occasion. For this performance by the Cecilian Choir, the piece will be combined with words by the First World War poet, Siegfried Sassoon, as well as with a new poem written by Nancy Gaffield, Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing in the School of English. The performance will be illuminated by a series of projections from the Special Collections and Archives department in the Templeman Library, curated by Joanna Baines. This sepcially-crafted son et lumiere event begins at 1.10pm, and will last approximately twenty minutes; admission is free – if you can’t make it, the event will be streamed live online here.
On Friday 11 November at 11am, third-year Music Scholar and trumpeter Alex Reid will play the Last Post in the Registry Garden; this is followed at 1.10pm by a lunchtime concert focusing on poet and composer Ivor Gurney. Arranged by Dr Kate Kennedy, the event dramatizes Gurney’s life as musician, soldier and eventually asylum patient, following his progress in his own words and music, with humour and poignancy.
From the start of next week, Colyer-Fergusson Gallery will host an exhibition produced by the Gateways to the First World WarProject exploring music during the conflict, which will be on display until Friday 25 November.
Find out about all these events and more online here.
Words, music, poetry and song will echo around the stones of the historic cathedral city next week, at the opening weekend of Wise Words, Canterbury’s literary festival which blossoms anew each spring and autumn.
The festival encourages wonder and curiosity through new encounters with literature, the written, spoken and sung word, and this year features poet and Radio 3 presenter Ian McMillan, Olympic Poet Lemn Sissay, former Canterbury Laureate Patience Agbabi, current Canterbury Laureate John Siddique, and a host of writers, poets and spoken word performers.
The festival has a strong musical thread running throughout its nine days, which sees all manner of performers take to the stage in the yurt in Greyfriars’ Garden, including cellist and baritone Matthew Sharp’s voyage from Bach to Tavener by way of Piazzolla; there’s a return visit from rapper and musician Dizraeli,
bluegrass with Gentlemen of Few, and even Your Loyal Correspondent in a lunchtime performance on the opening day, Saturday 30 April, at 12.30pm, as accompanist in a recital with mezzo-soprano Michelle Harris, in a programme of operatic arias and musical theatre songs ranging from Handel and Bizet to Cole Porter and Rodgers and Hammerstein. The opening musical weekend is a partnership with City Sound Project, Canterbury’s metropolitan music festival taking place in venues across the Bank Holiday.
Poetry on the river; writing workshops and retreats; midday music each day; magic lantern parades and events for children and families expect the unexpected when Wise Words bursts to life in the city next week. The festival runs from Saturday 30 April to Sunday 8 May, find out more online here, or browse the digital programme online:
and keep an eye out for printed programmes around Canterbury. It all starts next weekend…
As a curtain-raiser to the performance of Tokaido Road, which comes to the Gulbenkian Theatre on 23 May, the lunchtime concert the day before is an exploration of the meeting-point between poetry and music for two pianos, set against a backdrop of some of the Hiroshige prints which inspired both poetry and opera.
Pianists Matthew King and myself, together with poet Nancy Gaffield, part of the Creative Writing team in the School of English and author of the original Tokaido Road cycle of poems, spent yesterday exploring the programme which we have put together, which intersperses music by Debussy, Ravel and Matthew himself with poems from the cycle, which Nancy will be reading. There is some wonderful connectedness between the words and the music – a phrase in a poem is echoed by a rising melodic shape; the opening arc of a poem emerges out of a slowly-dying piano chord; a cluster-sonority echoes the tone of one of the Hiroshige prints which is projected above the performers. We spent several hours immersed in floating words and chords in the darkened concert-hall, playing with moving between music and poem.
The concert will take place on Friday 22 May at 1.10pm, admission is free, more details here: come and immerse yourself in time-out-of-place with music, poetry and print.
Because it does. Doesn't it ? Blogging about extra-curricular musical life at the University of Kent.