As usual, there’s a steady crescendo of events leading up to the end of the Christmas term; on Monday night, the University Chamber Choir performed amidst the candle-lit hush of Canterbury Cathedral as part of the University Carol Service.
Second-year Matthew Cooke made his conducting debut with In Dulci Jubilo, and other carols the Choir sang included Russell Hepplewhite’s Star of the East, fresh from having performed it live on BBC Radio 4 last week.
On Tuesday, the String Sinfonia gave a seasonal concert amidst the current exhibition in Studio 3 Gallery as part of the continuing #EarBox series, in a programme that included Corelli’s Christmas Concerto.
Final-year student Lydia Cheng was the featured soloist in a dynamic, energy-filled performance of ‘Winter’ from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
And there’s no respite, as the Big Band prepares for its annual Christmas Swingalong in a few hours’ time, the final event in our Christmas hamper…
The University Cecilian Choir, String Sinfonia and soloists were busy rehearsing for the first in our series of Christmas concerts, which takes place on Friday 1 December. A feast of seasonal music and words reflecting the start of the Christmas period, A Christmas Corncuopia brings together carols, popular seasonal favourites and readings to create a magical atmosphere.
For the event, the Music Department will be joined by Will Wollen, (pictured right), Senior Lecturer in Drama and Theatre Studies, who brings life to characters including Scrooge, Adrian Mole, Elizabeth David grumbling about cooking at Christmastime, Nancy Mitford bewailing traditional customs which frighten the house-guests and evocative poems by Edward Thomas and Thomas Hardy.
The music includes Vivaldi’s ‘Winter’ from ‘The Four Seasons,’ featuring third-year Music Scholar, Lydia Cheng, (pictured below) as soloist, and carols with the Cecilian Choir including Warlock’s beautiful Bethlehem Down and the traditional Ukrainian Carol of the Bells.
Come and launch the department’s Christmas season this Friday evening, and enjoy a glass of Smoking Bishop punch afterwards (included in the ticket-price); further concerts including the Society of Strange and Ancient Instruments, the Chorus and Symphony Orchestra, a seasonal #EarBox in Studio 3 Gallery from the String Sinfonia, and the Big Band’s enduringly popular A Christmas Swingalong – details about all these online here. ‘Tis the season…
The #EarBox series exploring the meeting point of visual art and music returns to Studio 3 Gallery in December, as the String Sinfonia performs amidst the gallery’s current exhibition, Capturing Movement.Curated by MA Curating students, Capturing Movement explores how artists have transformed contemporary dance into inspiring representations in sculpture, painting and photography. For the #EarBox event on Tuesday 12 December, the musicians of the String Sinfonia, directed by Floriane Peycelon, will bring a programme including music by Vivaldi, Corelli and Peter Warlock. With dance rhythms lying at the heart of much of the music from the Baroque, as well as Warlock’s Renaissance-dance inspired Capriol Suite, it will be fascinating to explore the synergy between the live music and the exhibited moments of dance frozen in time…
The concert starts at 5.15pm and will last approximately 45 minutes; admission is free, the audience is welcome to sit among the exhibits or view the exhibition whilst the performance is underway, and leave as they wish. More details online here.
Continuing the series profiling Music Scholarship students at the University of Kent. This week, first-year violinist reading Psychology with Forensic Psychology, Melody Brooks.
Being part of a musical family and having such a musical name, it seems only natural that would be drawn to music. My parents have fostered in me a love of all genres of music, and waited for me to decide which instruments I wanted to play.
The first instrument I chose was the violin, after seeing an orchestra perform at my primary school. Flute and piano soon followed. After gaining entrance to my secondary school (Parmiter’s School) because of my music, I was encouraged to participate in a number of musical groups including Orchestra, Junior and Senior Flute Choir (in which I took the opportunity to play piccolo, alto flute and bass flute), Senior String Ensemble and Concert Band.
I also studied Music at GCSE and AS-Level, which widened my exposure to different genres of music and allowed me to truly appreciate composers and performers alike. I also participated in the school play, Lady Windermere’s Fan, as part of the musical ensemble.
Outside of school, I participated in the CAN Music Academy (Children Achieving Now) in both the orchestra and the choir. I also participated in the Kuyumba Youth Music (KYM) String Orchestra. The KYM experience was one of growth, as it was an extremely competitive environment based on merit and fostered in me the spirit of hard work and practice.
Singing was always encouraged in my church, and my church is well-known for its lively, inviting music. Often, I would participate in a string ensemble or play violin to accompany a meditational song. From the age of 11, I was encouraged to lead Praise and Worship with my friends, singing gospel music. We then formed a singing group called ‘Amplified Praise’ and sang in venues such as the ExCel London Centre and Pontins in Wales.
Here at Kent, I currently play in the Symphony Orchestra and String Sinfonia. I have enjoyed being a member of both groups. The Orchestra is amazing and is exposing me to different composers. String Sinfonia is smaller, but just as much fun. I love being able to develop my skills alongside those more able than me and to enjoy music once again.
The final two days of Summer Music Week witnessed a tremendous flurry of musical activity both in Colyer-Fergusson and beyond, as the week-long music festival celebrating the end of the University year brought staff, students, guests, alumni and members of the local community together.
An intense forty-eight hours of rehearsing and performing began on Friday at lunchtime, with members of the Musical Theatre Society performing on the foyer-stage.
Later the same day, the Cecilian Choir, Sinfonia and soloists filled the church of St Michael and All Angels at Harbledown with a feast of Baroque music, featuring choral works by Vivaldi, Handel and Lully, and instrumental concerti featuring oboists Jonathan Butten and Dan Lloyd from the School of Biosciences, violinists Lydia Cheng (Law) and Claudia Hill (Politics and International Relations), and arias from Charlotte Webb and Ruth Webster (Biosciences – again!). A sultry encore from the Sinfonia took a packed and delighted audience to Argentina for a scintillating rendition of Piazzolla’s Libertango to conclude. And as if they hadn’t done enough playing, members of the Sinfonia provided a little light music during the post-performance reception…
With the end in sight, rehearsals continued first thing on Saturday morning as the Chorus, Symphony Orchestra and Minerva Voices prepared for the final event of the week, the annual Music for a Summer’s Day. Arriving audience-members were treated to a performance by the unstoppably energetic String Sinfonia on the foyer-stage prior to the afternoon gala concert.
The combined forces brought a programme including a zestful medley from My Fair Lady, besuited butlers bearing drinks during music from Downton Abbey, rousing music by Elgar, a Norwegian ballad, final-year Harriet Gunstone as guest soloist in the Champagne Polka, all culminating in a rousing rendition of ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ (including an encore conducted by third-year Cory Adams making a rare sortie from the percussion section to the front of the orchestra), and the shedding of a few tears as we all realised that this was, for those who are graduating, their final performance at the University.
The reception afterwards saw performers, audience, family and friends mingling in the marquee, as well as the presentation of the Music Society Awards – a spirited tongue-in-cheek affair with prizes for ‘Most Likely To Be Seen On A Night Out’ and ‘Best Dressed’ among the commendations – and the raiding of sumptuous racks of cakes and scones, as the week drew to a close, whilst Minerva Voices and a jazz group provided some spontaneous musical entertainment.
Summer Music Week higlights all that making music at the University embraces: students making extra-curricular music and friends during the year; students, staff, alumni and the local community coming together on a weekly basis to work together towards termly public performances; the recognition that music-making holds a valuable place in University life in terms of making friends, developing performing and organisational skills, bringing the community together to work towards a public-facing event that represents the University in ambassadorial fashion. Where else might you find a senior Registrar, the director of the Development Office, the head of the International Office, a first-year from Blackpool reading Drama, a second-year from Malaysia reading Law, violinists from Toronto and Zimbabwe, a Senior Lecturer in Linguistics, and local residents combining to let their hair down ?! It’s a terrific whirlygig, a snapshot of all the creativity that thrives both on- and off-campus throughout the course of the year, but it’s also a sad time, as we bid farewell to many who have become a vital part both of the Music department and the wider University during their time at Kent.
To all the leavers, we wish you the very best for the future in Life After Kent; to all those returning (or indeed joining!) us in September; rest assured, we’re now planning for another vibrant, action-packed, stressfull (!), creative, and ultimately rewarding year. To those moving on: we’ll miss you.
Congratulations to the String Sinfonia, directed by Elina Hakanen, who made Studio 3 Gallery resound to bustling lunchtime concert on Day Five; bristling Bach with soloists Lydia Cheng and Claudia Hill, lyrical Borodin, and closing with fiery, passionate Piazzolla.
Day Six tomorrow features the Cecilian Choir, Sinfonia and soloists in a Baroque extravaganza out at St Michael’s and All Angels, Harbledown.
The weekly programme dedicated to all things choral has a regular feature, ‘Meet My Choir,’ and last Sunday, Dr Michael Hughes – lecturer in linguistics in the School of English and a member of the Cecilian Choir – introduced the Choir, its ethos and its place within the University community. The musicians can be heard during the episode performing Monteverdi’s Beatus Vir.
The feature is permanently on the Radio 3 website here: click here to listen.
Because it does. Doesn't it ? Blogging about extra-curricular musical life at the University of Kent.