Tag Archives: Virtual Music Project

Coming home: Laura Osswald reflects on music-making and the impact of lockdown

Erasmus-student, cellist and singer, Laura Osswald, looks back on her time as part of extra-curricular music-making, and how she continues to be involved all the way from her home Germany during lockdown.


More than two months have passed since I have left the University of Kent. But the connection with the Music Department is still strong and will continue to be.

Card on the table: Laura (left) backstage in Colyer-Fergusson

Looking back on my Erasmus semester in Canterbury, music and the amazing people I got to know through it were a huge part of what turned this time into a great, enriching experience. Music allowed me to develop friendships not just based on the common fate of going to the same lecture or living in the same flat, but based on the shared passion of making music, especially making music together with others.

Within the music department, I never felt like a stranger – instead, going into the Colyer-Fergusson building more and more felt like coming home.

Being part of the Symphony Orchestra, the Cecilian Choir and the String Sinfonia and several small groups, I was very involved in the Music Department from the start. In my blogpost from November, I could only look back on the first concerts, but many more have followed. Christmas time had started wonderfully with the Advent Breathing Space with the Cecilian Choir in the medieval St Michael’s Church in Hernhill. My first term then ended with the fantastic concert with the Symphony Orchestra and Chorus. 2020 continued to be full of various musical activities. For Alice in Wonderland, I got the chance of not only singing in a choir, but also dancing as a playing-card which I enjoyed very much!

On the cards: the ‘Alice in Wonderland’ chorus in rehearsal

With the amazing University Camerata, we had a nice family concert of Peter and the Wolf where I was leading the cello section – so exciting and a great experience! I also continued to make chamber music: I joined a string quartet that performed at the Law Ball and a piano trio. With the Symphony Orchestra and String Sinfonia, we worked hard on our repertoire for the concerts in the end of March and I loved our rehearsals – but unfortunately, Covid-19 came in the way. Particularly the cancellation of the Cathedral Concert was very sad for me as it would have offered the unique opportunity to play in the impressive Canterbury Cathedral – I even would have had a small solo in Duruflé’s Requiem. It would have been a great finale for my musical time in Kent.

Laura (second from left) with the chamber group

But then, we found an alternative ending: a Facebook livestream concert with a piano quintet playing the beautiful music of Ólafur Arnalds. This was actually a dream of mine coming true, since I have loved his music for years and always wanted to play it myself – and now I could, together with four amazing musicians. I am very thankful that this happened, giving me a perfect ending to my Erasmus semester and bringing a bit of calm and peace into a troubled world.

When I think of all the music-making and concerts I have been part of, I am incredibly grateful that I had this opportunity and I am so happy I could experience all of this before the coronavirus started to change our lives so much. However, a positive side-effect is the emergence of the virtual music projects! Thanks to the great commitment of Dan Harding and the wonders of technology, I can continue playing with the people I love and miss. Of course, this is very different from making music together face-to-face and it can’t quite replace it, but nevertheless it is a beautiful opportunity to maintain my connection to Canterbury, the Music Department and joint music-making in general.

Social distant-strings; Laura recording as part of the Virtual Music Project from her home in Germany

The music, the memories and the people will stay in my heart. Thank you for welcoming me in Canterbury with open arms, I hope I can come back one day.

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore: where there’s a Will…

The latest from the stables of the Virtual Music Project is the second of two recordings of the Virtual Dance Orchestra’s version of Duke Ellington’s classic tune, Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (most appropriate for the current climate…) featuring current fourth-year baritone, Will Clothier, from the School of Archaeology and Conservation.

When not studying or off working on a rhino conservation site in South Africa, Will sings in the University Chamber Choir, and was recently seen treading the stage as the King of Hearts in the Music Department’s production of Alice in Wonderland: A Musical Dream Play. From his home in Leeds, Will sent in a recording, and this morning we’re very pleased to present a leaner mix of the piece, featuring a stripped-down version of the virtual big band behind Will’s voice.

This version follows hard upon the previous incarnation, featuring alumna Steph Richardson singing with a fuller virtual dance band; the next challenge is to combine the two voices to create a virtual duet – stay tuned…

Virtual Music Project: two-piano Doxy

The latest addition to the burgeoning Virtual Music Project features alumnus and pianist, Jim Reid, trading pianistic tricks and turns with Your Loyal Correspondent in a virtual two-piano rendition of Doxy by jazz giant, Sonny Rollins. Originally written by Rollins in 1954 and recorded alongside Miles Davis, and famously included on  Davis’ album as band-leader,  Bags Groove, three years later,  Doxy has since become a classic of the repertoire.

More from the Virtual Music Project later in the week…

Virtual Music Project: Virtual Vivaldi comes together

The Virtual Music Project (see previous post here) is in full swing – adjective applicable if you’re thinking about the Duke Ellington, perhaps not quite so if you’re aware of the Vivaldi Gloria performance which we’re building…then again…!

We’re delighted to share the first fruits of the collaboration which brings together University students, staff, alumni and their families in a virtual rendition of the first movement of Vivaldi’s glowing choral work. Each track has been recorded individually by participants during the current lockdown period, ranging right across the country from Canterbury through London to Somerset, Bristol, Northamptonshire and even across Europe to Germany, Luxembourg and reaching even as far as Japan, proving the universality of music as a means of coming together.

The first movement is also available to listen in a project Playlist on SoundCloud, alongside some of the early mixes of instruments and strings only, and a brief excerpt from an early mix of the virtual Dance Orchestra’s building Duke Ellington’s Dont Get Around Much Anymore.

I’m hugely grateful to everyone involved in bringing this project to digital life, for their enthusiasm, commitment and for taking the time to learn and record their individual contributions; it really is a wonderful example of the University community doing what it is good at – coming together, supporting one another, and making remarkable things happen.

Now onto the second movement and a piece by Mozart…!

Virtual Music Project: early excerpts

The Virtual Music Project is in full swing, building virtual music performances together with student, staff and alumni musicians across the University community. So far, people have submitted recordings for the first movement of Vivaldi’s Gloria, and the virtual Dance Orchestra is building a performance of Don’t Get Around Much Anymore (well, with a title like that, it was the obvious piece to do, really, wasn’t it…).

Here are some early extracts; first, from some of the first instrumental tracks to be submitted, featuring strings and oboe:

And here’s an extract from an early voices-only mix, featuring some of the first vocal recordings to arrive:

The next phase has gone live this morning, as we now build the second movement of the Vivaldi, the hugely expressive, richly-dissonant second movement; all the details are on the project’s Facebook Page here for those who want to get involved.

Don’t Get Around Much Anymore: the Virtual Music Project and making music in isolation

‘May you live in interesting times,’ runs the ancient saying. The second part, possibly lost in the mists of time since it was first uttered, may have been something along the lines of ‘and may you also have to adapt your working practices to cope with sudden, profound change.’ Maybe.

Continue reading Don’t Get Around Much Anymore: the Virtual Music Project and making music in isolation