Introducing Festival Curator Nicholas Cleobury

With only a few weeks until JAM on the Marsh celebrates its 10th festival on 4-16 July 2023, JAM would like to introduce the new Festival Curator, Nicholas Cleobury.

“I think festivals should be eclectic. We got a very wide-ranging festival, giving you a wonderful potpourri of events: From Bach and Handel to Joe Stilgoe’s jazz; the wonderful Changeling Theatre to Max Jaffa. I hope you will love what you see at this year’s JAM on the Marsh.”

Meet the Festival Curator Nicholas Cleobury for JAM on the Marsh
Nicholas Cleobury

The esteemed conductor, Nicholas Cleobury, is the 6th Festival Curator of JAM on the Marsh and has been a friend and supporter of JAM for nearly 20 years, in which he has had significant influence on the renowned commissioning programme of JAM. Nick is a member of the Music Panel and during his time as JAM’s Principal Conductor (2010-2016) he has premiered many JAM commissions, including works by Jonathan Dove, Thea Musgrave, Paul Mealor and Judith Bingham.

Born 1950 in Kent, Nick studied at Worcester College as an organ scholar, and was taught by the distinguished composer and pianist Kenneth Leighton. Whilst in Oxford, Nick started singing in and subsequently conducting Schola Cantorum, the university’s oldest choir. This is where he met the legendary Michael Tippett, with whom he shared a close professional and personal friendship.

Conductor Nicholas Cleobury and the Delaware Choral Scholars give an open masterclass on Britten's masterpiece, Rejoice in the Lamb.
Nicholas Cleobury

In his long-spanning career, Nick has held many prestigious posts, notably Assistant Director at the BBC Singers, Principal Conductor of the Oxford Bach Choir, Artistic Director of Mid Wales Opera and Head of Opera at the Queensland Conservatorium in Brisbane. He has conducted all the major UK orchestras and is a renowned choral and opera conductor, having worked with a wealth of national and international institutions, including the BBC Orchestras, London Philharmonic, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, Zurich Opera, London Mozart Players and Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

He is Founder Laureate of the Britten Sinfonia and has collaborated with many leading composers, including Harrison Birtwistle, Peter Maxwell Davies, James MacMillan, Mark-Anthony Turnage and most prominently Michael Tippett.

“As Curator I am excited to be able to celebrate people who have meant a lot to me, and none in my lifetime has meant more to me than Michael Tippett. He was a friend and mentor and I think the greatest 20th century British composer.”

At JAM on the Marsh, Nick will introduce the festival audience to two significant pieces by Michael Tippett: The Blue Guitar which will be performed by world-renowned guitarist Craig Ogden (Wed, 12 July) and the London Mozart Players, conducted by Nick, will take on Fantasia Concertante on a Theme of Corelli (Sat, 15 July).

Alongside his work with major UK and international institutions, Nick is a passionate educator and advocate for new music. His dedication to support the next generation is apparent, having conducted countless premieres and championed many younger composers. Nick has agreed to be one of the guest tutors of this year’s Masterclass composition residency, taking place at JAM on the Marsh in collaboration with Paul Mealor, John Frederick Hudson and the Sacconi Quartet.

Nicholas Cleobury at JAM on the Marsh
Nicky Spence, tenor

Nick will also talk to Richard Peat (composer) and Timothy Knapman (librettist) of JAM’s larget commission, (5.30pm Fri, 14 July in The Ship, New Romney) just before the premiere of the new community oratorio The Sky Engine.

For a chance to meet Nick and find out more about his vision for JAM on the Marsh 2023 and his inspiration for the programme, join us at 5.30pm Thu, 6 July, also at The Ship, New Romney.

At last year’s festival, Nick premiered Judith Bingham’s Clarinet Concerto with the London Mozart Players and Robert Plane – have a listen.