Sounds New Roadshow: the teacher’s view

June 21, 2013

The Sounds New Roadshow, the travelling part of our education arm, recently visited St Eanswythe’s Primary School, Folkestone, on its county-wide tour of schools. Here’s what one of the members of staff had to say about the day…


st_e_logoThe Sounds New Roadshow’s performance was an original and inspiring experience for the children at St Eanswythe’s Primary School, providing them with a useful insight into the creative world of musical composition.

The personalities of each of the instrumentalists were effective in engaging pupils from the ages of 5 right up to 11. Each musician captured the minds of the children through introducing their instruments and offering an insight into the unusual and creative ways in which they can be played.

The children particularly enjoyed taking the lead as conductors and offering their thoughts on what the guitarists composition should be called, based on their own interpretations of the piece. Their thoroughly worthwhile, educational and interactive performance left the children buzzing with excitement at the possibility of learning to play such instruments themselves!

Lucy Burnett, Year One teacher.

Image Gallery: All for One

June 19, 2013

As part of Sounds New’s educational mission, the popular All for One series of concerts for schools and families ran again last month at St Peter’s Methodist Church, Canterbury.

Pictured are pupils from St Peter’s Methodist School and St Stephen’s Junior School, working with Phil Wright from the Philharmonia on pieces including Paul Burnell’s Aim Straight for Starlight.

Images © Sounds New / Peter Cook (used with permission)

Gallery: Family Day at Sounds New

May 7, 2013

A selection of images from Sunday’s family day, A Musical Guide to the Galaxy, including Wide-Eyed Theatre, live jazz, dancers from Canterbury College and Dance Warehouse,  Solar Sounds workshop with members of the Philharmonia, art activities, and the Scratch Orchestra.

Images © Sounds New / Peter Cook

Seeing stars: family day with Sounds New

May 5, 2013

It’s five o’clock, and I’ve just got home after a riotous day exploring themes of music and space at the Gulbenkian Theatre and its neighbour the Colyer-Fergusson building, as a Musical Guide to the Galaxy unfurled throughout the day.


Dance Warehouse exploring Turnage’s ‘Ceres’

Artistic activities included the making of various planets and stars at the activity tables, whilst in the theatre members of Wide-Eyed Theatre provided drama-based ideas; a performance from a six-piece close-harmony group in a capella songs; dancers from Dance Warehouse and Canterbury College explored music by Mark-Anthony Turnage and Brett Dean; in the concert-hall, families were treated to an open rehearsal from members of the Philharmonia and young instrumentalists experimenting with non-notated music, minimalist-style ostinato and swooping electric keyboard glissandi in Solar Sounds.


Philharmonia musicians and young players explore ‘Solar Sounds’


Scratch Orchestra, cond, Danny Glavin

The day concluded with a scratch orchestra, comprising students from both Christchurch University and the University of Kent under the able baton of former Masters student, Danny Glavin, in themes from ET, Star Wars, Fnug (not wholly congruent with the themes of space and the universe, but, as Danny said before the piece, “some of it does sound pretty alien!”) before concluding with the equally-tenuous but crowd-pleasing theme from Wallace & Gromit (Glavin; “well, they did go to the moon in ‘A Grand Day Out!”).

A lively day, bringing together professional musicians, young players, families and toddlers to explore new music in highly creative ways.

The festival continues with the first ‘All for One’ concert on Tuesday at 11am in St Peter’s Methodist Church in town.

Mallets in Wonderland: an interview with percussionist Greg Felton

April 30, 2013

With the Universe of Sound installation in full swing at Augustine House, I caught up with percussionist Greg Felton, who’s a part of the experience; he told me about his involvement with the project, the ‘stress-relief’ possibilities of percussion-playing, and the discovery of some choice eateries in town…

Tell us a bit about your background

Greg: I trained as a percussionist at the Guildhall School of Music, and after graduation I worked as a percussionist for a couple of contemporary dance companies.  I eventually began to dabble in creating promotional films for musical projects and music videos, editing and website design, and so decided to do an internship with the Philharmonia’s digital department, in order to learn how to do all these digital things properly.

Greg_1Whilst I was at the end of my internship we filmed Universe of Sound in January 2012. Since completing my internship I’ve been working as a freelancer, doing camera operating, film editing, score reading, as well as performing as a percussionist and drummer.  I’m a regular freelancer for the Philharmonia’s digital department when they need an extra pair of hands, and I live in the Percussion room throughout Universe of Sound.

How did you come to be involved in the project ?

Greg: When we set up Universe of Sound at the Science Museum, we realized that it would require a percussionist in the room to help encourage people to join in and play along, and to make sure people have the correct drum sticks in their hands etc.  We’d filmed the on-screen tutorials, where two percussionists from the Philharmonia describe the next percussion entry, and these worked well.  But as the installation progressed,  I was able to devise a kind of ‘rolling-percussion-workshop’ which would shift depending on who was in the room and what they wanted to do, and at what time they had arrived during the piece.

What’s been your experience of it – visitors reactions; do they get stuck in, are they shy ?

Greg: I find that whilst some people can be a little hesitant at first, the moment you have tried one of the tutorials, it becomes addictive.  It wasn’t unusual to get people who played the entire hour-long piece through on percussion.  In some extreme cases, people were coming back, day after day, learning the percussion parts all from memory.  It works on so many levels, with wild schools workshops with bigger groups, to more personal detailed sessions where people get a real sense of what it involves to be an orchestral percussionist.

And now of course the percussion is in the Portakabin, which helps a lot!  Previously when the percussion room was attached to the main room, we’d need to be a bit sensitive during the quieter movements such as Venus, so that the music wasn’t drowned out by noise.  But now if someone wants to feel the full force of the bass drum and tam-tam, they can do so at any moment during the piece.  You’re free to hit anything you’d like, as loud or soft as you’d like, with or without a tutorial.  It’s more flexible.

What benefit or value do you think the project has ?

Greg: It works on all levels.  But I think it’s important to feel just how much expressive potential there is in the percussion section.  I love it when people are overwhelmed by the ridiculous volume of the tam-tam.  I can then confirm to them that it really is that loud in the orchestra.  The percussionists really do strike their instruments that hard when Holst writes ‘fff’ as a dynamic.  It’s important people see that there is nothing ‘safe’ about orchestral music.  It’s intense and brilliant.

Have you had any mad moments with visitors to the installation ?

Greg: So far in Canterbury we’ve had some brilliant moments.  At one stage we had about thirty people in the percussion portakabin all at once, comprised of a schools group along with some students from the university, and some adults.  Together, we all played through the Talbot piece, Worlds, Stars, Systems, Infinity and straight back round to Mars again. Yesterday, two students let off some ‘dissertation stress’ on the bass drum, which was hilarious!

And how are you finding Canterbury during your stay  ?

Currently loving Canterbury!  We discovered the Belgian beer restaurant, which also does stunning food.  Also had some amazing crepes in the Chocolate Café, and we even had an evening when we caught some bands at a gig up at the studio in the Marlowe Theater.  There’s a lot going on here, and we’re really enjoying ourselves.

Follow Greg on Twitter. With thanks to Greg for his time.

Sunday 5 May: a Musical Guide to the Galaxy

April 29, 2013

Treat yourself, your family and friends to a day of new music, song, art, workshops, new dance and drama at Canterbury’s Gulbenkian Theatre and the brand new Colyer-Fergusso music building at the University of Kent.

Musical_GalaxyAn action-packed, fun-filled day of short concerts and sound-bites to engage and enthrall young and older alike. Look and listen to a galaxy of sounds brought to you by Sounds New. Try out your own creativity too throughout the day, with arts activities in the foyer, all based around the theme of space.

Special ‘space lunch’ available too and other themed refreshments.

Tickets: Adults £5 / Children free.

See the page on the Gulbenkian website here.

Aim for the starlight: Paul Burnell at Sounds New

April 25, 2013

Aim straight for the starlight is an education and community development project at this year’s Sounds New, in collaboration with CoMA.

Paul Burnell

Paul Burnell

Leading to a public performance of composer Paul Burnell’s Aim Straight for Starlight, this is a project where the composer himself will come down to work with local schools and the CCCU ‘Scratch Orchestra.’ The piece is composed with this educational and community purpose in mind and its instrumentation includes (amongst others) different hand-held percussion instruments as well as ocarinas, melodicas, even bottles, all of which can be used by children performing alongside professional players (playing wind, brass and string instruments), giving them a real sense of playing as part of an ensemble in a public occasion.

This project is helping to strengthen the relationship between CoMA, Sounds New, the local community and Christ Church University; an educational project, where amateur musicians and students studying to become professionals work alongside each other and with school children towards a public concert.

The performance of Aim Straight for the Starlight will be a part of  the All for One concert series, in the concert taking place at St Peter’s Church, Canterbury, on Tuesday 7 May at 11am, with a discretionary entry of £1.

Sponsored by Kent Soundhub

Sponsored by Kent Soundhub

Curious Curator: Sounds New exhibition at The Beaney

April 20, 2013

Sounds New encourages all manner of creative responses to contemporary music, and the Curious Curator, an exhibition of artwork, poetry and sound installations inspired by our theme of the Universe of Sound, will be at the Front Room at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, in the heart of Canterbury.

The exhibition will include work from artists, musicians and poets from local schools and the community, the university and poetry groups, and runs from May 4 -12, including work from students from Langton School and the University of Kent: admission is free.

Curious Curator

Curious Curator: click to enlarge

Bring your curiosity…

Sounds New educational events in May

March 27, 2013

As usual, education is a key aspect of Sounds New’s mission to help introduce audiences – particularly younger ones! – to today’s music, and this year is based around the Universe of Sound project which the Philharmonia is bringing to Canterbury next month. Once again, Sounds New is pleased to be making many of these events free, as we inspire and enthuse younger minds and take them to the stars – and maybe even beyond!

sn_educationThe education arm opens with Star Compositions And Darker Matters on Wednesday 17 April, from 9:15 till 3pm at Canterbury Christ Church University. This will be an interactive composition day for 13-18 year olds, at which Richard Slaney from the Philharmonia, who made the installation, will introduce ideas behind the the Universe of Sound. Sounds New composers will also explore new composing techniques and the music of one of the key British composers of the twentieth century, Gustav Holst. This is a practical day too, so we encourage people to bring their instruments!

Returning this year will be the Sounds New Roadshow, for which you can book a performance of new music at your school or community venue, given by students from Canterbury Christchurch University, led by our Education Manager, Peter Cook. Performances last about fifty minutes and will be tailored to suit each age-group, including primary and secondary schools and community groups. The roadshow will be ‘on the road’ from May onwards! Visits are free but organised on a first-come, first-served basis so booking is essential.

Our popular series of All for One concerts for any school or community group together with their relatives and friends will also be returning to Sounds New, taking place at 11am on May 7 and May 9 at St Peter’s Methodist Church in Canterbury. On May 7, musicians from both the Philharmonia and Sounds New will perform new works plus a new piece, Aim Straight For The Starlight. The concert on May 9 will showcase new music, including a performance by members of the Philharmonia. Admission for these concerts is £1 (discretionary)



Families can enjoy A Musical Guide To The Galaxy on Sunday May 5 at the Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury, between  11am-5pm; an action-packed family day of extraordinary musical happenings with workshops and dance too. Sample bite-sized concerts in the Gulbenkian Theatre and the new-Colyer Fergusson Concert Hall (next to the Gulbenkian Theatre) as well as hands-on arts activities in the foyer. Admission is free for children and £5 for adults. More on the Gulbenkian webpage here.

Curious Curator, an exhibition of artwork, poetry and sound installations inspired by our theme of the Universe of Sound, will be at the Front Room at The Beaney House of Art and Knowledge, in the heart of Canterbury. The exhibition runs from May 4 – 12, showcasing work from students from Langton School and the University of Kent: admission is free.

For more information about any of these events or to book, please e-mail the Education Manager, Peter Cook. we look forward to welcoming the young (and the young-at-heart) to the exploration of new music with Sounds New once more this year.

Oh Captain, my Captain: interview with Peter Cook

May 2, 2012

The first day of May saw me talking with Peter Cook, the Education Project Manager for Sounds New, jazz saxophonist, teacher, and self-styled ‘Fleet Commander’ (you’ll have to listen to the interview for the explanation for that one!).

20130410-152311.jpgThe educational aspect of Sounds New is a crucial part of the festival’s mission, to engage younger audiences with contemporary music, to find ways in which they can participate in and respond to it. ‘’That’s really the big vision of Sounds New,’’ Peter remarks later in the interview, ‘’to really engage young people now in the music of our time, and for them to be the performers and composers [of tomorrow].’’ As he goes on to explain, different projects encourage people to respond in different ways to Sounds New, through not just music but other art-forms, as part of a wider remit in getting them thinking about contemporary music.

There’s a huge range of projects taking place as part of Sounds New’s educational outreach, with events unfolding all year round, feeding into, and developing ideas associated with, the festival itself.

Here, Peter talks about why helping to bring contemporary music to young audiences is important both to Sounds New and to him, and looks ahead to some of the events occurring this year.

With thanks to Peter.