Tag Archives: University of Kent

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. 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.

Good musicians really do make good students!

Congratulations to everyone who graduated from the University in July, especially to the many musicians amongst the mortar-boards and gowns swirling around the Cathedral Precincts and celebrating their success. Included as part of the throng were the following:

Douglas Haycock, President of the Music Society 2017-18, Music Scholar reading Law
Lydia Cheng, Music Scholar reading Law
Benjamin Weiland, Music Performance Award holder reading Law
Alice Scott, Secretary of the Music Society, reading English and American Literature and Religious Studies
Imogen Willetts, Music Performance Award holder reading Classical and Archeological Studies and Drama

We wish them – and everyone else who graduated! – all the very best for the future.

Photos © Matt Wilson / University of Kent

Putting the ‘us’ in ‘music;’ local community and music-making at Kent

At the heart of the word ‘music’ lies the word ‘us.’ Whether it’s rehearsals or performances, music is a social activity; it involves people working together, rehearsing, delivering pieces and sharing their passion with listeners in live concerts.

Here at Kent, members of the local community are a crucial element in our music-making, both in terms of participating as well as being amongst the audiences. Members of the local area form part of the University Chorus, coming along to Colyer-Fergusson each week to rehearse in preparation for termly concerts; they play with the University Concert Band and the Symphony Orchestra, sitting alongside undergraduates, post-graduates and members of University staff. From the choral-risers to the orchestral chairs spread across the wooden floor, members of the public are very much a part of all the music-making that takes place throughout the year in Colyer-Fergusson Hall and Canterbury Cathedral.

Local community also forms the listenership at our concerts; the free series of Lunchtime Concerts that takes place across the year brings top-flight professional musicians to the campus for local audiences to enjoy. Our eclectic lunchtime series ranges from folk music from award-winning groups such as FARA to leading-edge musicians on the British jazz scene, players from the Philharmonia, and professional musicians based in Kent who work amongst London’s finest ensembles. And it’s not just our immediate neighbours and local residents who participate in music-making or come to concerts; people travel from Sandwich, Bridge, Faversham, Littlebourne and Folkestone, and can be found either on the choral-risers, in the string section, or amongst the audiences.

And it’s thanks to the local community that we are able to bring them to Kent. The Lunchtime Concert Series is in part supported by generous exit-donations made by audiences at the end of each concert, and we are hugely grateful for all the support that goes towards putting the concert series together each year, allowing us to bring first-class musicians to Canterbury. One of the essential elements behind the creation of the award-winning Colyer-Fergusson Building, when it opened its doors in December 2012, was the opportunities it afforded to enrich the lives not just of the University community, but for the local area too.

Music-making for the local community, and including the local community; whether you’re interested in joining in or simply listening, music at the University couldn’t happen without you. Find out more about all that’s going on in our seasonal brochure here, or take a look online: we look forward to seeing you in Colyer-Fergusson soon!

Chamber Choir perform live on Radio 4’s Today Programme

Congratulations and thank you to the members of the University Chamber Choir, who rose to the occasion (and rose early, too…) to sing live on this morning’s Today programme on BBC Radio 4.

Image: Dan Worth / University of Kent

The programme was broadcast directly from the Gulbenkian, and the programme closed with the Choir performing Star of the East, a carol written by composer Russell Hepplewhite. A lovely opportunity to present a recent carol to a wide listenership; thanks to all the singers.

Waiting to go on-stage…
The Chamber Choir with Today presenter, Justin Webb

Here’s the moment shared by BBC Radio 4:

and the University’s clip:

Tomfoolery play for Sibson launch

Yesterday afternoon saw the launch of the Sibson Building, the University’s newest addition to the Canterbury campus, and the joint new home shared by Kent Business School and the School of Maths and Actuarial Sciences. The musicians of General Harding’s Tomfoolery were in action for the second time in less than a week, entertaining the guests at the reception held before the unveiling of the plaque formally to open the new facility.

A great afternoon for everyone involved; the players particularly enjoyed themselves, channeling their inner Blues Brothers whilst playing some vintage jazz for the assembled guests. Tomfoolery will be back in action on Monday 5 June in Five O’Clock Stomp in Colyer-Fergusson Hall as part of Summer Music Week; admission is free, details here.

Legal harmony: musical law students perform for opening of new Wigoder Building

We often have Music Scholarship students who are reading Law here at the University; yesterday two of them serenaded honoured guests at the lunch in Darwin college before the opening of the Wigoder Law Building in the afternoon.

Second-year violinst Lydia Cheng and cellist Faith Chan performed for the benefit of invited guests prior to the launch of the new building.

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The Right Hon Charles Wigoder at the launch of the new building. Image: Kent Law Campaign
The Right Hon Charles Wigoder at the launch of the new building. Image: Kent Law Campaign

The new building, the new home for Kent Law Clinic at the University, was opened by.Baroness Hale, and the Hon Charles Wigoder also spoke at yesterday’s official opening.

The opening of the Wigoder Building. Image: Kent Law School
The opening of the Wigoder Building. Image: Kent Law School

Congratulations to everyone involved in the project; the building promises to be a wonderful enhancement to the University facilities and to Kent Law School.

Celebrating the life of David Humphreys

It was with sadness we heard the news over Christmas that David Humphreys had passed away at the age of ninety-three, and yesterday we attended David’s memorial service in Barham, a chance to reflect on a remarkable life and career lived to the full.

David was a terrific supporter of music at the University of Kent, having come to the University to read History after retiring from a career as a lawyer; choral singing was very much a part of David’s life, and he sang with the University Chorus as well as other choirs around Kent and in London. As a benefactor, his generous support gave countless students in the Chamber Choir the opportunity to perform in the historic and sonorous surroudings of Canterbury Cathedral Crypt each year, in a memorial concert for David’s wife, Julia. Always a vibrant presence, he would regularly find himself enthusiaistically drawn in to the group photographs taken at the end of each concert, which gave him the opportunity to meet the choir, to talk with them, something that David, always a ‘people-person,’ did with clear relish and much enjoyment. In 2012, the Crypt concert was a special celebration of David’s ninetieth birthday.

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David with the Chamber Choir in 2012 on the occasion of his ninetieth birthday

This year’s Crypt concert falls on the occasion of what would have been David’s ninety-fourth birthday, and this year’s choir, Minerva Voices, will, fittingly, be giving a performance of Vivaldi’s joyous and celebratory Gloria, in a concert which will be dedicated to both David and to Julia. A tremendous character, an enthusiastic supporter of the musical life of the University, and a great friend; he will be much missed.

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David Humphreys (1922-2015)

New exhibition in the Colyer-Fergusson Gallery: photographs by Matt Wilson

Our season of exhibitions in the Colyer-Fergusson Gallery continues with a series of photographs by Matt Wilson.

MattWilson01Anyone who has seen our publicity and event photos will already be familiar with Matt’s work, and we’re delighted to be able to give Matt the opportunity to exhibit some of his more focused portraiture. The new exhibition, part of the University’s anniversary celebrations over the course of this year, is a selection of portraits of members of its staff. In Matt’s own words:

MattWilson02Since 1965, the University of Kent has employed thousands of people. These are just thirteen.

Admission is free; gallery open during normal opening hours, and the exhibition is on display until the end of October.