Congratulations to the University String Sinfonia, who on Saturday headed to the Market Town of Kings, to perform at St Mary’s, Faversham, as part of the Coffee Concert series.
Directed by Floriane Peycelon, the players gave a spirited reading of Arensky’s Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky (a theme most often heard in the carol ‘A Crown of Roses’), followed by a performance of John Woolrich’s evocative Ulysses Wakes, featuring postgraduate Music Performance Scholar reading Chemistry, Kira Hilton, as soloist.
Woolrich’s hushed, agile responses to Monteverdi cast a shimmering spell as it lifted into the church’s generous acoustic, and the composer, who was present for the performance, talked before the piece about his music and the spirit behind his reimagining music of the past.
The String Sinfonia is back in action on Friday 31 March in Colyer-Fergusson Hall; more details here.
The Music department hosted players from the Glyndebourne Touring Orchestra and Pit Perfect Scheme for an afternoon performance and workshop, before we took a group of student musicians to see the production of La Bohème at the Marlowe that evening. Here, final-year Forensic Science student and cellist, Lois Cocker, looks back on her experience throughout the day.
Last Wednesday I had a fun day, full of music, which I was able to be a part of thanks to being part of the University String Sinfonia. The Glyndebourne touring orchestra visited Canterbury and put on a lunchtime concert in the Colyer-Fergusson hall which was incredible to watch. After the concert I was then part of the workshop where some musicians from the orchestra coached the String Sinfonia as part of their Pit Perfect scheme. I play the cello and so was lucky enough to sit next to one of the pro cellists who was so lovely and friendly! The professionals from Glyndebourne gave us great advice which we all took on board and will definitely use in our playing in the future.
After the workshop, some of us went into town to get some pizza before heading out to watch the Glyndebourne opera – La Bohème at the Marlowe Theatre, which we were lucky enough to attend thanks to being treated by the music department here at Kent. This was my second ever opera I had seen. (Last year I was able to see my first ever opera with the String Sinfonia, The Rake’s Progress which was also a Glyndebourne production). La Bohème was such a beautiful opera which I enjoyed so much- it even made me cry! The music from the orchestra was incredible, I almost forgot that it was all being performed live as it was immaculate! I’m so glad I was able to experience this.
Before I had ever watched an opera, I always assumed it wasn’t really my cup of tea, but after now seeing two operas I can’t wait to see more! I was so engrossed watching La Bohème, it was comedic and also emotional. The voices of the opera singers were so beautiful. After the performance we had the opportunity of speaking to some of the musicians again. I was able to learn about their musical upbringings and their musical careers which I found so interesting and inspiring.
All-in-all it was an amazing day and I feel so lucky to have been part of the experience. It’s a massive part of my university experience that I will cherish forever!
With thanks to Chris Stones (Head of Tour Development), Jonathan Tunnell (Tour Orchestra Manager) and all the visiting Glyndebourne staff and players.
The University String Sinfonia celebrate music for string orchestra on Day Three of Summer Music Week, directed by Flo Peycelon. The programme included final-year Economics student Jenny Pang in Massenet’s Meditation and second-year Architecture student, Kammy Pike, in Vaughan Williams’ The Lark Ascending, as well as the premiere of a work by Canterbury-based composer, Matthew Brown.
After a lengthy absence, it was good to be back in the richly-resonant acoustic of Studio 3 Gallery, the University’s art gallery, for a performance by the String Sinfonia yesterday.
The #EarBoxseries of events bringing music and visual art together returned with a programme relating to Le piazze [In}visibili, an exhibition of photographs documenting empty Italian piazzi during the first lockdown in 2020, when normally vibrant social spaces became suddenly silent.
The ensemble’s opening piece, the Chacony by Purcell, took on a greater emotional significance as it rang out against the backdrop of the images, Purcell’s aching dissonances assuming more of an impact. Vivaldi’s Spring picked up on the Italian connection, and in a wonderful moment of serendipity, birdsong in the spring afternoon outside the gallery could be heard in between the movements. Music Scholars Jeni Pang, Alice Nixon and Kammy Pike each took a movement.
Matt Brown’s Solitude at Dusk had one or two ravishing chords, and the performance ended with the weighty Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis, whose main melody (When rising from the bed of death) somehow again took on different overtones in light of the photographic evidence of the impact of the pandemic which surrounded the audience.
Congratulations to the students, and to its director, Floriane Peycelon. #Earbox will return to Studio 3 Gallery again in the future…
Images of empty Italian piazzi find echo in music for string orchestra, including John Woolrich’s Ulysses Wakes, as the #EarBox series bringing music and images together returns to Studio 3 Gallery with the University String Sinfonia on Weds 23 March at 1.10pm.
Woolrich’s piece is a transcription of Ulysses’ first aria in Monteverdi’s opera Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria, first performed in 1640. Washed up on the coast of Ithaca, Ulysses wakes on the shores and asks ‘Am I sleeping or awake? / And what country surrounds me?’ as he fails at first to recognise his home. In Woolrich’s reimagining, Ulysses’ questioning aria is sung not by a voice, but by the darker-hued tones of a solo viola, played here by Music Performance Scholar, Kira Hilton.
The programme will also include Purcell’s Chacony and Vaughan Williams’ reflective Fantasia on a theme by Thomas Tallis. as well as Vivaldi’s vivacious ‘Spring’ from The Four Seasons.
The concert is set against the backdrop of the gallery’s current exhibition Le Piazze [In]visibili – Invisible Squares, which was created during the early days of lockdown in Italy in 2020, and reflects the desolate emptiness of town squares which traditionally throng with residents and tourists, but which suddenly became empty like so many social spaces around the entire world.
After so long without them, it’s genuinely exciting to be back with musical events as the Christmas season starts to unfold.
The Cecilian Choir, comprising students, staff and alumni launched the Advent season with a sequence of plainsong and carols at St Michael’s Church, Hernhill, a meditative candlelit event interspersed with periods of silent reflection; there was a wonderfully atmospheric moment during one such moment, when the church clock struck on the hour at eight o’clock.
This year’s Chamber Choir, Minerva Voices, returned to the Cathedral on Monday 6 December, for the first time since December 2019, to sing for the University Carol Service; always a special event in the university calendar, drawing its community together in a modified, COVID-safe manner that was nonetheless a very welcome opportunity to come together at this time of the year. Congratulations to final-year Psychology student and Music Award Holder, Felicity Bourdillon (above, fifth from the right), whose solo verse to open ‘Once in royal David’s city’ lifted clear into the Cathedral Nave at the start of the service.
And last night, members of the String Sinfonia were in action in a fearless concert showcasing the versatility of music for string orchestra, including Elgar’s Introduction and Allegro and some light-footed folksong arrangements by John Rutter.
We’ve still a week of events to go before the term ends; but it’s great to be back.
It’s been a terrific afternoon here in Colyer-Fergusson Hall; following the Lunchtime Concert from members of the Glyndebourne Touring Orchestra / Pit Perfect Scheme, the players have been sitting alongside the students in the University String Sinfonia workshopping two pieces for string orchestra this afternoon.
The hall has been filled with the sound of music (!) by Kalinnikov and Elgar, and the student players have been working alongside the professional players, working on technical aspects of instrumental playing, working as ensemble musicians, and sharing the experience of playing music together, all under the expert enthusiasm of Flo Peycelon.
Thanks to Chris Stones, Head of Tour Development, to Jonathan Tunnell, Touring Orchestra Manager, and the players for a marvellous afternoon of collaborative music-making – a terrific opportunity for University music students to learn from the very best.
We’re heading off down the hill this evening, taking the student string-players to see the professionals in action again in tonight’s production of The Rake’s Progress, as the Glyndebourne tour takes up residence at the Marlowe Theatre…