JAM festival ends in glory

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The 2018 JAM festival on Romney Marsh reached its glorious conclusion last weekend, July 14/15.
Most inspirational for this reader was the concert given in St Nicholas Church New Romney on the Saturday, July 14. After an elegiac Serenade for Strings, by Santiago Mantas, we heard Quatre Motets sur les thèmes grégoriens, by the 20th-century French composer, Maurice Durufle. This was a wonderful evocation of medieval sacred music, rendered by the Mousai Singers, who have performed at previous JAM festivals as reported in Rye News in 2015. This piece of music has been recorded many times, but can be heard also beautifully sung in another setting here

James Widden violin, Gabrielle Sheppard as the Soldier, and Peter Watts as the Devil

Next we heard another polyphonic gem composed by Edward Bairstow, organist at York Minster from 1913 until his death in 1946. Firmly in the Anglican church music tradition, his work has been described as a mix of Brahmsian harmony with plainsong. This too was a delight for the ear. After the interval we re-assembled for Fauré’s Requiem, a much-loved work which reaches emotional heights in the Pie Jesu and the transcendental In Paradisum. The orchestral playing captured the intimate nature of the original 1893 arrangement. The whole concert  was conducted with superb skill and great feeling by Daniel Cook, Master of the Choristers and Organist of Durham Cathedral, and also Curator of the Festival.
So ended the fifth JAM on the Marsh multi-media festival. This year had been the most ambitious to date, featuring seven concerts, five exhibitions, three poetry events and four events for children. Theatrical events included an open-air production of Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit,  and Igor Stravinsky’s music theatre masterpiece of the Soldier’s Tale. This last item is a stunning modern take on a medieval morality tale, admirably brought to life by Sabotage Theatre in conjunction with the Bridgetower Music group.

Photos: Kenneth Bird

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