JAM on the Marsh 2023: Review
One month ago, we closed our 10th JAM on the Marsh festival, concluding two fantastic weeks celebrating extraordinary music, art and theatre, all performed by outstanding artists.
From intimate concerts with world-class musicians such as classical guitarist Craig Ogden, tenor Nicky Spence and the Joe Stilgoe Trio, to the powerful 60-voice Delaware Choral Scholars bringing flavours of American choral music and the world premiere commissioned by JAM of a community oratorio with over 100 performers – this diverse festival offered engagement and enjoyment for all generations.
Thanks to Festival Curator Nicholas Cleobury’s eclectic programme, this year’s JAM on the Marsh not only presented an opportunity to enjoy all-time favourites, but to discover new works of music and art. With several first appearances and as many as six world premieres, JAM on the Marsh was full of memorable moments:
- The performance collective Marginalia celebrated the first performance of their energetic interpretation of Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel
- John Frederick Hudson and Cyrill Ibrahim took on Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring and premiered Paul Mealor’s The Fading Banks of Dee, the composers’ first ever composition for four hand–piano, written for the performers
- It was also the first time that we welcomed an American choir to the festival: the Delaware Choral Scholars captivated the audience with their wide-spanning repertoire and the world premiere of this year’s Festival Commission, Evening Star by Christopher Churcher
- Simon Blendis and Saoko Blendis introduced the audience to the delightful music of light music violinist Max Jaffa
- Four new string quartets, composed during the festival by the participants in the first ever residential Composer’s Course: Cameron Biles-Liddell, Christopher Churcher, Isabelle Ryder and Jago Thornton. The course we led by Paul Mealor, John Frederick Hudson, Gabriel Jackson, Ruth Rogers with the support of the Sacconi Quartet, who premiered the compositions.
- We were pleased to see the return of the JAM Sinfonia: consisting of some of the finest musicians in the UK, including Simon Blendis, Anna Tilbrook and Dan Shao, the orchestra concluded ‘A Day in Paris’ together with mezzo Hanna Hipp and narrator Kudzanayi Chiwawa, conducted by Nicholas Cleobury
- The acclaimed tenor Nicky Spence was joined by Dylan Perez and biographer Oliver Soden for the debut of their programme celebrating the music and words of Noël Coward
- Nicholas Cleobury conducted the London Mozart Players in a magnificent concert celebrating well-known and newer works by British composers, including JAM’s Festival Commission from 2019 by James Aburn
- An undeniable festival highlight was certainly the greatly anticipated premiere of JAM’s biggest ever commission: Richard Peat’s community oratorio The Sky Engine saw accomplished artists perform alongside community players and school children from the Romney Marsh
- In another festival first, artworks were cut into pieces for the ‘Desecration of Paris’: visitors were able to buy sections of France Tetreault’s incredible canvases, which she cut out for them on the last day of the festival
We were pleased to welcome back many of our previous collaborators for the celebration of our 10th anniversary: Rebecca Afonwy-Jones, John Ballard, Michael Bawtree, Simon Blendis, Canterbury Cathedral Boys Choir, Changeling Theatre, Penny Graham, Simon Hogan, John Frederick Hudson, London Mozart Players, Craig Ogden, Sacconi Quartet as well as Anna Tilbrook.
It was equally wonderful to see many new artists give their JAM on the Marsh debut: Tom Bell, Saoko Blendis, Wendy Carrig, Kudzanayi Chiwawa, Hanna Hipp, Cyrill Ibrahim, Marginalia, Dylan Perez, Oliver Soden, Sounds Baroque, Nicky Spence, France Tetreault and The Joe Stilgoe Trio.
A special Thank You goes out to our wonderful volunteers, who have supported us and the arts in the last years, and to all our returning and new audience members – we hope you enjoyed JAM on the Marsh as much as we did and look forward to welcoming you back to the 11th edition from 4-14 July 2024.
The great variety and exceptional quality of the events perfectly summarised the first decade of JAM on the Marsh and we look forward to many more!
Alongside musical fireworks, festival regular Changeling Theatre entertained the audience with two outstanding performances, and four extraordinary exhibitions from local talent invited festival visitors to marvel at artworks inspired by nature and music.