University of Chichester Music Academy -Open Evening/ Meet the Team

Having been created in 1839, the Bishop Otter Campus has also fashioned one of the most imaginative British musical student organisations – the highly inventive Music Department of The University of Chichester, which then formed its Contemporary Music Group, back in 2007, in order to perform lots of modern – occasionally brand new – serious music.

This Department has just recently agreed to generate a new Academy of Music, bringing university-style experience in musical education – to children aged 8 to 18. It has also created two new music centres, in other parts of Sussex – at Horsham and Worthing – which are to support the provision of local music-making across the whole of Sussex. In order to promote these exhilarating new moves, it had eagerly taken the opportunity of setting up an evening of decidedly enjoyable music, in order to introduce these ideas to all those present – and noticeably to the general public.

Just before this performance began, Senior Lecturer Adam Swayne – who had created the University’s Contemporary Music Group, mentioned above, and who is also a brilliant young pianist and highly inventive composer/conductor – enthusiastically introduced three young performers to many visitors, who were now in the University’s Octagon Room, (for rehearsals), immediately after which their piano, guitar and drums created some exceptionally agreeable, light, background music, as all the visitors enjoyed the introductory wine and lightweight food, which was being made available there, especially when Senior Lecturer Ben Hall and cello-instructor, Laura Ritchie, arrived, then dedicatedly joining in with this highly enjoyable opening event.

Adam Swayne soon began to explain that they had planned a much larger “gig” in the nearby Music Hall – just before the University was “kick-starting its new term, on Saturday, 24th September”. All of those in the Octagon Room immediately joined this main event, in a much larger music room, with a sloping, quite lofty ceiling. Immediately, six musicians – and an adventurous female singer – began to enthusiastically reveal the University’s keen fascination with all types of music, including adventurous, highly inventive, versions of the rather more “popular” range, as all of them began to excitedly demonstrate their audacious – highly innovative – approach to such music.

During this stimulating session, all those musicians present then constantly moved around the frontal area, in order to produce ninety minutes of modern, highly melodic and rhythmical light music to this enthusiastic audience. All six combined inventively to create lots of dance-music and light jazz – often with a distinctly Spanish flavour, as they combined saxophone, guitars and piano with the rhythm of the inventive percussionist. When they all began to draw to the culmination of this exhilarating evening, along came the female singer’s intense version of “Why not take all of me” – which had been celebrated, many years ago, by Louis Armstrong and Frank Sinatra! – to the grand applause of all those attending this highly distinctive musical show.

Such an entertaining – and incredibly popular – display of rhythm, sound and decidedly tuneful music by University musicians combined perfectly with the unique architectural environment of this Hall, in order to display the massive range of music to which all those in the University of Chichester Music Department are dedicated, and which does continue to be frequently performed and demonstrated right at the heart of their Campus – in the soaring, highly ethereal, atmosphere of the imaginatively glazed Chapel of The Ascension.

John Wheatley