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Oct 25

First rehearsal in the new building: the conductor’s view

Ian Swatman on the first rehearsals for Concert and Big Band in the new building, and the urge to wear slippers…


First impression in every respect…wow!

Speaking personally it did feel very strange arriving at a different venue for Wednesday evenings rehearsal. It has at times felt that on a typical Wednesday evening I’ve walked into Eliot College more conscious and concerned about the chance of being invaded by this week’s naked rugby players(!)  than the issues of dodgy tuning and good ensemble playing. The ‘legendary’ acoustic meant worrying about the latter was futile anyhow!

I did however, feel a weird kind of betrayal of Eliot College after all these years. I was also, worryingly, fighting the urge to wear a pair of slippers as I stepped into the stunning surroundings of the CFB.

As players arrived the look on their faces said it all as they entered the magnificent hall.After being vetted by Ms.Wanless regarding muddy shoes, food and drink we played a few tunes!

If I’m totally honest as we opened James Rae’s ‘Platform One’ my initial reaction was …panic! The hall allows nothing out of place musically and we spent longer fiddling with tuning than we did in many months/years in Eliot. Even without the soon to be placed acoustic curtains the improvement in the sound was beyond belief. We could all hear what should be where and there was a palpable improvement in the sense of ensemble within all the sections.  We could hear each other!!

Another tell-tale sign of a thoroughly enjoyable evening – where did the time ago?
It is a true privilege to be part of music at the University of Kent and I have no doubt that this fantastic building will ensure that music making is taken to another level.

God bless Sir James!!

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