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Mike Blow's Jazz Puddles at Cheltenham Jazz Festival (a sound work). The installations pictured featured music by Yazz Ahmed Image: Still Moving Media

Cheltenham Jazz Festival Announces Jerwood Jazz Encounters Fellowships

19 May 2020

Four jazz artists have been commissioned to create ground-breaking new ways to present jazz at Festivals across England. They are Elliot Galvin, Faye MacCalman, Lara Jones and Witch ‘n’ Monk.

Each artist has been awarded a Jerwood Jazz Encounters Fellowship which will give them the chance to experiment with presenting jazz in unusual spaces and the digital realm. The 18-month programme will equip the artists with the skills and contacts they need to develop bold new work. Each Fellowship includes R&D funding, in-depth mentoring, a two-day Creative Lab hosted by Birmingham City University and specialist support from digital partner The Space.

The artists have already started developing ideas for site-specific or digital works for presentation at some of the leading music festivals in Europe in 2021 to include Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Manchester Jazz Festival, Oxford Contemporary Music and Sage Gateshead.

Pianist and composer Elliot Galvin said “I am fascinated by presenting music in new contexts and communicating work to audiences in new ways. This Fellowship will allow me to build on my creative ideas with the support and guidance of industry professionals to help me realise a new installation piece that is in dialogue with its environment, playing with context as much at content. This is something that I have worked on before, but never with the support network that this Fellowship provides, allowing the work to develop to its full potential.”

Faye MacCalman is an improvisor, performer and composer who will use the Fellowship to explore issues around mental health. She said: “I’m really excited for the potential of this piece to grow and document the very human but still difficult to talk about experiences of mental health, and to test the boundaries between music, spoken word and art. I want to learn more about making music for spaces where the public can engage outside of the usual jazz circuits or concert halls and developing new ways of working that can have a social impact.”

Lara Jones is a saxophonist, improviser, composer & collaborator who has been working on a series of compositions based on train stations and train journeys. She said: “Having become fascinated by the sounds of the stations/trains and the stories that are told, I’m interested in presenting my work in the place in which the music has been inspired and composed. I can’t wait to work with a space where it can become so intrinsic to the music, performance and audience that the music couldn’t exist without it.”

Witch ‘n’ Monk (formerly Bitch ‘n’ Monk) is the twinning of nonconformist Colombian flautist Mauricio Velasierra and anarchic soprano and guitarist Heidi Heidelberg. They said: “It is rare to have the chance to incubate a radical new artistic idea, with the support of a dedicated team of experienced and specifically chosen mentors. We are looking forward to developing a new format for musical performance that combines aspects of the promenade theatre experience, engaging with socio-political issues and a direct connection with the audience. As musicians experienced in live performance and recorded music, we will have the opportunity to explore some completely new artistic techniques, as well as building on those we have developed over many years, and recontextualise them in completely new settings.”

Jon Opie, Deputy Director of Jerwood Arts said: “Many congratulations to the five artists selected for Jerwood Jazz Encounters. Their ideas in response to the programme’s premise of fashioning new pieces for unusual spaces are really inspiring and I am excited for the journey of conversations and making that they are going to take over the coming eighteen months. The current situation is really tough on artists, so we’re pleased to offer this small reprieve from the gloom, especially as it is all about thinking laterally and ambitiously.”

The Jerwood Jazz Encounters Fellowships are supported through Jerwood Arts’ Development Programme Fund.

https://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/jazz/