JAM on the Marsh

The Red Note Group at JAM

The Red Note Group at JAM - Credit: Archant

Find out all about this vibrant, annual arts festival on Kent’s glorious Romney Marsh

JAM on the Marsh (9-20 July) is a vibrant, annual arts festival on Kent’s glorious Romney Marsh. With music at its core, the festival will include photography, art, family events, poetry and theatre. With free and ticketed events, the festival is packed with adventurous programming and collaboration, marrying outstanding local artists with excellence from across the UK.

With infrastructure and programming focused on Kent’s towns such as Folkestone, Deal, Ashford and Canterbury, the 20-mile stretch of the Romney Marsh has been ignored. JAM on the Marsh will bring high quality and inspirational art to the area. The festival will bring the community from children to the elderly together, draw in those from further afield to discover the Marsh and involve local partners like the RSPB, Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway, the IMOS Foundation, the Mercure Hythe Imperial and six local schools. It will also breathe new life and appreciation into the fabulous yet forgotten medieval Romney Marsh churches.

The season begins on 9 July at the City of London Festival (CoLF), remembering WW1. The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge will sing Rachmaninoff’s beautiful Vespers, described as his ‘finest achievement’. The Vespers (or All Night Vigil) was written in 1917 and it seems extraordinary that this vibrant, beautiful vision should have been written surrounded by all the devastation in Europe. The Vespers will be programmed with Weeks’ Orlando Tenebrae, which is interwoven with contemporary poems about war. This is a work of staggering power and impact that it rarely heard. This programme will be repeated in JAM on the Marsh two days later.

Again in CoLF, on 11 July Scotland’s finest contemporary ensemble Red Note and brilliant, young, oboist Michal Rogalski will give the world premiere of Judith Bingham’s Oboe Concerto: Angel of Mons. This work, commissioned by JAM for oboe and 11 strings, sets the extraordinary, super-natural legend The Angel of Mons, as recounted by survivors, in which angels guided members of the British army to safety at the outset of WW1 at Mons. Her Oboe Concerto continues Judith’s unique ambition to compose a series of works of X + 11 strings. Judith’s The Hythe, Barber’s Adagio and Vaughan Williams’ Oboe Concerto complete the programme. This programme will immediately transfer to JAM on the Marsh.

In contrast to WW1, the vibrant third programme in CoLF on 16 July features Handel’s majestic Coronation Anthems including the iconic Zadok the Priest and the English premiere of The Yongy Bonghy Bo by Giles Swayne. In celebration of his 75th birthday and 10 years since its commissioning by JAM, Kent-based John McCabe’s charming Songs of the Garden will complete the line-up. The programme will be performed by the Mousai Singers, Onyx Brass and Sky Ingram (sop), Rebecca Afonwy-Jones (mezzo), Ashley Catling (tenor) and Giles Underwood (baritone).

The Courtship of the Yonghy-Bonghy-Bo is one of the most touching, tragic and at the same time light-hearted poems in the English language, yet has never been set for professional musicians. A repeat performance will be given in JAM on the Marsh.

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Completing three heady programmes in London, JAM on the Marsh is in full swing across the Romney Marsh. The festival will take people on intriguing journeys. Take the RH&DR from Hythe to Dungeness and see This Was Once Sea, a photography exhibition of the Marsh by award-winning photo-journalist Justin Sutcliffe, in the stations, in the carriages and at the RSPB reserve. Come to the Mayor’s unveiling of a new mural by IMOS Foundation artists and then walk round New Romney’s mural trail with your children, answering the questions to claim your prize! Travel round Europe as you preview the IMOS Foundation’s EU Portraits. Overcoming language barriers and national boundaries, these fascinating works challenge you to know which country each person is from, appreciating the style, setting and personalities as they are.  

Over a commemorative weekend, JAM on the Marsh will remember WW1 by performing Rachmaninoff’s sensational Vespers and its new commission festival curator Judith Bingham Oboe Concerto: Angel of Mons recounting the legend of British troops led to safety by angels at the on-set of war. JAM, in association with Orchestras Live, presents Red Note Ensemble and Michal Rogalski to give this performance. On Sunday, Andrew Radley, one of the UK’s most outstanding counter-tenors will give a recital of songs of love and loss by Vaughan Williams, Finzi and Bridge.

Bringing life and appreciation to Romney Marsh churches, as the sun sets on the Marsh, Gawain Douglas will give a recital of TS Eliot’s poetic masterpiece Four Quartets at the ancient church of St Mary in the Marsh. For two evenings, the horse-drawn theatre company, Sabotage, will take over this church performing its new production, Owlers. Sabotage Theatre’s highly visual style combines local myth and true smuggling stories to bring history alive into the present day. To conclude the weekend, an organ recital will given by Tim Parsons, organist at Holy Trinity Church, Folkestone.

Supporting the next generation is important to the festival. Some of the fastest rising opera singers in the UK are in two events in Hythe; a sumptuous Opera Dinner based on the film Quartet and a concert of Handel’s ever-popular Coronation Anthems – including Zadok the Priest. These star singers have graced the stages of Welsh National Opera, Opera North, the Royal Opera and English National Opera. Celebrity Paul Mealor, composer of hits Wherever You Are (Military Wives) and Ubi Caritas (Royal Wedding), will introduce an evening of music that has influenced him, performed by the up and coming Mousai Singers.

Children from Greatstone, St. Nicholas’ New Romney, Dymchurch, Palmarsh and Hythe Bay primary schools will steam down the RH&DR track to give a vibrant public performance at the Marsh Academy, celebrating the first year of Singing Playgrounds. This is a fun, 3-year project to inspire and develop singing in schools. Furthermore, students at the Academy will showcase their writing and design skills to accompany our Fossils, Monsters and Ghostly Tales.

The JAM on the Marsh bus will run throughout the festival, taking audiences to and from our events.

Programme of Events: 9-20 July


Rachmaninoff’s Vespers with The Chapel Choir of Selwyn College, Cambridge

7.30pm 9th July: St Bartholomew the Great EC1A 7JQ

7pm 11th July: St. Augustine’s Church, Brookland TN29 9QR

Tickets: £15-£10, (students £5 on the door), under 18s free

Adams, Barber, Bingham, Vaugham Williams with Red Note Ensemble and Michal Rogalski (oboe)

7.30pm 11th July: St Andrews, Holborn EC4A 3AB

7pm 12th July: All Saint’s Church, Lydd TN29 9JU Tickets: £15-£10, (students £5 on the door), under 18s free

3pm, 13 July: Love and War - songs of love and loss by Andrew Radley (counter-tenor) and Alice Turner (piano)

St Dunstan’s Church, Snargate TN29 9RX Tickets: £3 Under 18s free

2.30pm, 14 July: A celebration performance of Singing Playgrounds

The Marsh Academy, New Romney TN28 8BB Tickets: £5, £3/parents of children participating, U18s free

6pm, 16 July: Fossils, Monsters and Ghostly Tales! World-class mezzo Alison Wells sings of C19th fossil hunter Mary Anning and Mary Shelley of Frankenstein fame, with clarinettists Catriona Scott and Ian Mitchell

The Marsh Academy, New Romney TN28 8BB Tickets: £3 Under 18s free

7pm, 17 July: An evening with Paul Mealor. As one of our most high profile composers, Paul will introduce works that have influenced him and his writing, sung by the Mousai Singers;

The Marsh Academy, New Romney TN28 8BB Tickets: £12 (students £5 on the door), under 18s free

7pm, 18 July: Opera Dinner – Music from the film Quartet. The newly renovated Ballroom will be filled with the greatest songs of opera; Delibes, Lehar, Mozart, Puccini, Rossini, Smetana and Verdi’s famous Quartet from Rigoletto

Sky Ingram (sop), Rebecca Afonwy-Jones (mezzo), Ashley Catling (tenor), Matthew Stiff (bass), Alice Turner (piano)

The Ballroom, The Mercure Hythe Imperial Hotel, Hythe CT21 6AE Tickets: £50

Handel, McCabe, Swayne

7.30pm, 16 July: St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street EC4Y 8AU

7.30pm, 19 July: St Leonard’s Church, Hythe

Tickets: £15-£10 (students £5 on the door), under 18s free

3pm, Sunday 20 July: Organ Recital by Tim Parsons;

St Mary the Virgin Church, St Mary in the Marsh TN29 0BX, Tickets: £10


11-20 July: This Was Once Sea photography exhibition by award-winning photo-journalist Justin Sutcliffe; RH&DR stations, 40 RH&DR carriages and RSPB Dungeness. Free event.

2pm, 13 July: the Mayor of New Romney will unveil IMOS Foundation’s latest mural depicting all the Marsh churches followed by a children’s mural trail throughout the village. Answer the questions and claim your reward!

Old School Gardens, New Romney TN28 8TY Free events

2-4pm, 15 July and 10am-midday 17 July: Portraits of Europe by Briony Kapoor – open studio viewing

The Studio, Craythornes Court, Fairfield Road, New Romney TN28 8HU. Free events.


7.30pm 18-19 July: Owlers; a tale of rebellion and the sea, with poignant themes in today’s financial climate, by Sabotage

St Mary the Virgin Church, St Mary in the Marsh TN29 0BX

Tickets: £8 online, £10 on the door. Students, under 18s and Sabotage wearers £5

5pm, 19 July: A recitation of TS Eliot’s poetic masterpiece Four Quartets by Gawain Douglas with musical interludes by Vaughan Williams

St Mary the Virgin Church, St Mary in the Marsh TN29 0BX

Free event. Donations to Freedom from Torture

For info and tickets, go to www.jamconcert.org/season or call 0800 988 7984