Tag Archives: String Sinfonia

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.

Image round-up: Minerva Voices and the String Sinfonia

It’s been an action-packed musical week this week, with several events unfolding across three days.

Composer Russell Hepplewhite came to Colyer-Fergusson on Wednesday to hear Minerva Voices, the University’s upper-voice chamber choir, perform his recent work, Fly away over the sea, as part of the choir’s lunchtime concert. Members of the String Sinfonia joined the choir for a programme which includes music by Vivaldi, Mozart and Ola Gjeilo, alongside plainsong and an American spiritual

Russell Hepplewhite (centre) with Minerva Voices at the Lunchtime Concert

Minerva Voices, conducted by Dan Harding, in rehearsal that morning

Yesterday, the string were in action once again as the String Sinfonia performed a tea-time concert of serenades, including works by Tchaikovsky, Mozart and Britten’s Simple Symphony.

The action continues tonight, as the University Chamber Choir performs a meditative service by candlelight at St Michael’s Church, Hernhill, called Breathing Space, an hour-long event combining music and silence that creates a space for tranquility and reflection. The event starts at 7.30pm and is free, and draws the week to a close in an oasis of calm.

Which will last until next Friday’s annual roof-raising gala concert with the University Concert and Big Bands…

Image Gallery: Dido and Aeneas

Congratulations to all the performers involved in last Friday’s performance of Dido and Aeneas. Students and staff in the University Cecilian Choir and String Sinfonia were joined by some of the Music Performance Scholarship singers in a production of Purcell’s timeless story of love and loss, conducted by Your Loyal Correspondent.

Costumed courtiers promenading the foyer greeted audience members arriving for the performance, whilst a string trio performed trio sonatas on the foyer-stage. Below are some of the photos from the dress rehearsal that afternoon.

Special mention to postgraduate Law student and Music Scholar, Helen Sotillo, as the doomed Queen of Carthage, and third-year Scholar, Fleur Sumption, as Belinda, and second-year Drama student and Scholar, Carmen Mackey, as the evil Sorceress.

In rehearsal earlier that day
String trio and costumed Chorus set the scene prior to the performance
String selfie time: l-r viola player Adam Dooner, and violinists Jennifer Pang, Corinna Jung and Will Morgan

And here is the cast and performers taking their bows after the performance:


l-r: Helen Sotillo (Dido), Alice Shires (Spirit), Fleur Sumption (Belinda)

‘Remember me…’

Rehearsals are well underway for the performance of Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas by the University Cecilian Choir, String Sinfonia and soloists in two weeks’ time; here are some shots from recent rehearsals, including Music Scholar, soprano Helen Sotillo, rehearsing Dido’s heart-breaking lament, the Cecilian Choir as palace courtiers in Act I, and some of the String Sinfonia rehearsing Act II.

The tragic story of the doomed love of the Queen of Carthage for the Trojan prince unfurls in Colyer-Fergusson Hall on Friday 1 February at 7pm; more details online here.

Strings on tour: String Sinfonia performing in CAST Gala concert

If you missed the String Sinfonia’s trip to Canada last month then fear not; here is the group performing Elgar’s Serenade for Strings as part of the Chinese Artists Society of Toronto’s Gala concert, directed by Floriane Peycelon.

The performance was the culmination of the ensemble’s five-day visit to Canada, which also saw them give a  Classical Connections concert at Toronto’s Varley Art Gallery, as part of the gallery’s recent exhibition.

With thanks to CAST Administrator, Lily Cheng, for the footage.

Strings on tour!

Bon voyage to the members of the University String Sinfonia, whose members left Heathrow Airport early this morning on their way to Canada.

Comprising undergraduate students from across the university, including the Schools of Law, Psychology, Politics and International Relations and European and Culture and Languages, the group will be performing in a special event at the Varley Art Gallery (read more about that in a previous article here), and as part of the Chinese Artists Society of Toronoto’s annual Gala concert, alongside the CAST Philomusica and various soloists, in a packed gala programme.

We wish them well; follow all their adventures on #sinfoniaontour on Instagram at unikent_music and on Twitter; it promises to be an exciting trip!

Classical Connections: String Sinfonia to perform at the Varley Art Gallery in Toronto

The #EarBox series of events combining live music with visual art takes on an international flavour next month, as the University of Kent String Sinfonia will perform at the Varley Art Gallery in Toronto as part of a five-day visit to Canada.

The performance on Thursday 14 June is one of two concerts in which the group will be playing, and takes place against the backdrop of the gallery’s new exhibition, which explores the physical and psychological effect of nature for humans and animals, and the intersection of human and arboreal timelines. The exhibition includes two- and three-dimensional works and installations; Refuge by Karen Miranda Abel, Anna Williams’ Canada House and Mother Trees of Future Forests by Lisa Hirmer.

Source Pool (Riverine) by Karen Miranda Abel (2018)

Classical Connections will illuminate the exhibition’s central themes of water, surface, liminal spaces and spatial relationships, and the passage from nature to culture with a pastorally-themed musical programme, complete with birdsong, including works by Elgar, Holst, Warlock, Dvořák and John Williams. The programme, like the players, crosses continents to animate the gallery and resonate amongst the various media on display, setting them amidst an aural backdrop that invites the audience to experience both the art-work and the music in a new way.

The Director of the ensemble, Floriane Peycelon (pictured) – a freelance violinist, performer and teacher who also leads the Folkestone Symphony Orchestra – is particularly looking forward to the event; “It’s a terrific thing for the students,” she enthuses, “giving them the wonderful opportunity to take their music-making abroad and showcase the prolific talent amongst the string-players at Kent – and they are not even reading Music as a degree! The chance to play at an art gallery is very exciting – I love finding unusual spaces in which to perform.’’

The ten players will perform in the evening concert in the gallery followed by a reception and a tour of the exhibition; the group then travels to Scarborough Citadel on the Saturday to play as part of the closing Gala Concert of the Chinese Artists of the Society of Toronto, alongside the CAST Philomusica Orchestra and soloists.

The String Sinfonia performing with the Cecilian Choir in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, March 2018

The String Sinfonia is part of the vibrant extra-curricular musical life of the University of Kent, and brings together students from a range of degree programmes including Law, Psychology, Mathematics, Politics and International Relations and Economics to rehearse and perform throughout the year. The ensemble regularly performs in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, in Studio 3 Gallery and in concerts off-campus.

Performing in Studio 3 Gallery on the University campus, December 2017
The ensemble giving a lunchtime concert in Colyer-Fergusson Hall, March 2018

The Varley Art Gallery opened in 1997, and welcomes around 45,000 visitors annually, a preeminent cultural institution reaching audiences both nationally and internationally. This is the first time that the University Music department will travel to perform in Canada, and we’re very much looking forward to beginning our trip with a special event at the gallery. We are also very grateful to the gallery’s Public Programs Coordinator, Rachel D’Oliveira Fell, for the invitation to perform.

The Frederick Horsman Varley Art Gallery. Image: Gisling / Wikimedia Commons

Find out more about the Classical Connections event online here – and if you’re in the area, book yourself a ticket!

Strings attached ? Energy-filled concert from the String Sinfonia

Congratulations to all the performers in the University String Sinfonia on a lunchtime concert today, delivered with fierce energy and some ravishing colours.

Directed from the violin by Floriane Peycelon, the programme included ebullient dance-rhythms in Warlock’s Capriol Suite, movements from Parry’s An English Suite redolent of the English countryside, and Holst’s St Paul’s Suite, concluding with John Williams’ depiction of Dartmoor before the FIrst World War in an excerpt from War Horse.

The players are back in action next week, when they team up with the University Cecilian Choir in Ola Gjeilo’s popular Sunrise Mass; details here.