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Royal wedding composer Paul Mealor is curator of Romney’s JAM on the Marsh arts festival

One of the quietest spots in Kent will be transformed into a symphony of sound as hundreds of musicians, performers and creatives descend for the annual arts festival Jam on the Marsh. 

Royal wedding composer Paul Mealor is the high-profile curator of a festival set in what is usually one of the county’s quieter quarters.

Paul came to worldwide attention when he was chosen to write music for the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in 2011.

Paul Mealor
Paul Mealor
Romney Marsh with Dungeness Power Station in the background - part of the This Once Was Sea exhibition by Justin Sutcliffe. More details atwww.jamconcert.org
Romney Marsh with Dungeness Power Station in the background - part of the This Once Was Sea exhibition by Justin Sutcliffe. More details atwww.jamconcert.org

His piece, Ubi caritas, was performed by the choirs of Westminster Abbey and Her Majesty’s Chapel Royal at the ceremony, watched by 2.5 billion people, the largest audience in broadcasting history.

So it’s testimony to the excellence of Romney’s JAM on the Marsh arts festival that Paul has this year become the curator of the 10-day spectacular, which brings music, theatre, poetry, artwork and photography to locations across Romney Marsh from Thursday, July 9, to Sunday, July 19.

Of his involvement with JAM (John Armitage Memorial), Paul says: “In 2010, JAM commissioned a song of mine called Now Sleeps The Crimson Petal. It was that piece that Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Cambridge heard and I was contacted for the royal wedding commission, so I’ve a lot to thank JAM for!”

There will be a diverse musical programme during JAM on the Marsh festival
There will be a diverse musical programme during JAM on the Marsh festival

Paul, a Welshman based at the University of Aberdeen, adds: “I’ve got to know Romney Marsh quite well and have made some friends, and I think it’s fantastically beautiful. I’ve been involved in JAM every year, so I feel a real connection.

“I remember the very first time I visited, Ed Armitage, the festival director, took me on that wonderful train journey right across the Marsh and it’s very inspiring.”

Paul is thrilled with the diversity this year’s programme offers.

“We have music of Thea Musgrave, who is one of the great British composers, a brand new piece by her called The Voices Of Our Ancestors; a brilliant piece by Paul Patterson called The Fifth Continent, which is inspired by Romney Marsh; and one of my favourite pieces is going to be sung by the Mousai Singers, the gorgeous Duruflé Requiem,” he said.

Photography by Justin Sutcliffe will be exhibited at the festival
Photography by Justin Sutcliffe will be exhibited at the festival

“We have opera, music by Mozart, Puccini, Rossini and Verdi, but also a photography exhibition that looks at the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway and a brilliant group called The Owlers, who perform tales of local history.

“We have children coming from all across the Marsh for a concert called Singing Playgrounds with Onyx Brass and a new piece by Timothy Jackson.

“You have beautiful medieval churches on the Marsh, so this year we have a tour of those churches, with discussions about how they have become beacons of cultural and historical light.”

Visit www.jamconcert.org for full programme details and ticket prices.


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