Romney Marsh Festival will celebrate work of local, national and international artists

Published on May 23rd, 2016

Following the success of JAM on the Marsh 2015, when around 7,000 people attended arts events at venues across the Romney Marsh, details have been announced of events at this year’s festival, which will take place from 7th to 17th July 2016.

Curated by world-renowned composer Paul Mealor, the festival will feature concerts, poetry reading, master-classes, drama and exhibitions, with contributions from and appearances by artists with national and international reputations as well as local practitioners.

One of the concert highlights will feature the BBC Singers and Dame Janet Suzman in a concert to be broadcast by BBC Radio 3, including works by Vaughan Williams, Holst, Finzi and premières by Paul Mealor and Thomas LaVoy.  Onyx Brass, described as the ‘classiest brass ensemble in the UK’,  will perform a vibrant programme of music including Bernstein, Gershwin and a medley of Bond favourites in the New Romney engine shed of the Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, with the added attraction of a hog roast.  The Sacconi Quartet, well known in the area for their own annual festival at St Mary and St Eanswythe’s Church, Folkestone, will perform works by Mozart, Mendelssohn, Dove and Fitkin.  Another concert will tell the story of Casanova through music by Mozart, Handel, Pergolesi and Vivaldi. There will be the world premiere of Paul Mealor’s “The Shadows of War”, commemorating the Battle of the Somme, specially commissioned for the festival and performed by the London Mozart Players and Mousai Singers. The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge will sing in a programme of Howells, Brahms, Vaughan Williams and Gibbons. Finally, on the last day, there will be a rare chance to hear Messiaen’s evocative Quartet for the End of Time, marking the 75th anniversary of its première.

Other events will take place at the Romney Marsh Visitor Centre, which will become the ‘Arts Hub’ for the duration of the festival, with exhibitions of photography and mixed media and a series of talks and workshops, including many by arts practitioners based on Romney Marsh. The RSPB Reserve at Dungeness will host a photography exhibition by students from the Marsh Academy, and the church of St Mary the Virgin at St Mary in the Marsh will be the venue for poetry readings. The popular JAM on the Marsh guided tour will feature visits to four of the Marsh’s iconic churches.

The festival welcomes children at all events, but younger people may be particularly attracted to a performance of Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes and Marvellous Music with the Magnard Ensemble. There are also art workshops with hART, which help to stimulate children’s imaginations through making kites or creating a crowd of stickmen. A three-year education project at Dymchurch, Palmarsh and Hythe Bay primary schools will culminate in a performance by children from the schools together with Onyx Brass and Shepway Brass Academy of music from Singing Playgrounds, together with a new piece for brass and children’s choir by Timothy Jackson.

The festival bus initiative, which receives funding from the Roger De Haan Charitable Trust, enables people to travel to or from some of the Marsh’s more remote locations at the very low cost of just £1, helping to make events more accessible. Tickets for the bus need to be booked in advance at the same time as reserving tickets for events.

Much more information about the festival can be seen at www.jamconcert.org/season.