Three Questions: Kit Downes

April 28, 2014

Coming to Sounds New as part of Robert Stillman’s Leap of Death project, I put Three Questions to composer and pianist, Kit Downes.


Tell us about yourself.

Kit Downes

Kit Downes

My name is Kit Downes and I’m a composer, pianist and organist living in London. I work with lots of musicians, composers and artists, and also occasionally design instruments. One of the musicians I am lucky enough to play with is Robert Stillmann – a fantastic composer and saxophonist, with whom I will be playing at Sounds New festival this year.

What excites you about contemporary music ?

Any music that moves me I find exciting – not necessarily contemporary music, which I guess I find a slightly nebulous term, just because some of the most constantly challenging and fresh engaging music I hear isn’t necessarily the newest in terms of time-line (contemporary is a slightly subjective term in music I think – hence the name of the band, the ‘Archaic Future Players,’ I guess!) I think that’s something Robert and I both agree on.. But I guess I do love hearing new things that I haven’t heard before – whether that is in terms of approach, aesthetics or intention – anything that sounds fresh to me I tend to get excited about!

What can we expect from your visit to Sounds New in May ?

I’m playing with Robert’s fantastic project – which is a live acoustic score to an old film that was made in 1928, but is now lost. The film is The Four Devils by F. W. Murnau – and the score Robert has written for it is brilliant – engaging and challenging!


Find out more about the Leap of Death project at Sounds New on Tuesday 6 May online here.

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Three Questions: Led Bib

April 7, 2014

Coming to Sounds New next month, I put Three Questions to Led Bib‘s Mark Holub.


Tell us about the group

Led Bib is a band which I started as part of my Masters degree in 2003, and it played its first gig in 2004(celebrating 10 years this year!). It plays music which sits somewhere in between rock, jazz, improv and some other genres…..and I am pleased to say that as the band developed it was just as much about the other guys in its ideas as mine, a truly musical collaboration.

Image: Matt Crossick

Image: Matt Crossick

What excites you about contemporary music ?
In all genres it is great seeing people trying to push themselves and their music to new places. I’ve never really understood the desire to recreate work that has already existed, so I have tried to push myself too.

What can we expect from your performance at Sounds New next month ?
The performance at Sounds New is going to feature music from our new album, which is coming out April 21st. The Sounds New show is the last of our 13 dates UK tour, so we will have really gotten to grips with the new material; we always love playing in Canterbury, so I look forward to a really special show.

To whet your appetites, here’ the video to the band’s latest single, which has been released this very morning…


Image Gallery: jazz at Whitefriars

May 13, 2013

Images from last Saturday’s live jazz at Whitefriars, Canterbury, with Big Brand New, CCCU Big Band and the OrbiPLAYA Big Band.

Images © Sounds New / Peter Cook


Three Questions: the Orbi Playa Big Band

April 23, 2013

Ahead of the band’s appearance playing at Whitefriars on Saturday 11 May, I put Three Questions to director of the band, Mike Hamnett.

Tell us about your ensemble

MH: The band was formed in September last year from former members of the Canterbury Christ Church University Big Band. A core group were graduating together and wanted to carry on playing big band music. I had recently left the university to become the percussion supervisor on the UK Touring production of Disney’s The Lion King, and agreed to help the band in any way that I could which has turned out to be in a playing/directing role along with saxophonist Danny Glavin. Whilst at the university. I attempted to broaden the students’ big band experience – too many people think “big band” and hear “Glenn Miller”. I introduced music from the 1920s through to contemporary charts written by Maria Schneider, Andy Shepperd and Andy Scott. We regularly appeared at the National Concert Band Festival where we achieved three Gold Awards and appeared at the NCBF National Event in 2012 at the Royal Academy of Music where our programme was described by the adjudicators as “adventurous and committed”.

As the newly-formed Orbi Playa Big Band (so named after the apartments that housed us on our 2012 tour to Spain) we achieved an unprecedented double, being awarded the covetted Platinum award not only at the regional event in Southampton but also at the National event held this year in the Adrian Boult Hall in Birmingham. Continue reading