Over five thousand people benefitted from the Liberation Festival in 2017. The Festival offered something for all tastes. Thousands of Jersey’s school children and students, and those in care homes enjoyed the outreach events. For the general public, from the opening night of A Portrait of a Royal Ballet Star, to Schubert’s Trout Quintet supported by UBS, Vivaldi’s Four Seasons supported by Henley and Partners, to a gastronomic pairing of music and food at Ormer, and Ray Gelato at Hamptonne there was a huge array of international stars on display.
A triumphant opening featured the international star Lauren Cuthbertson and young local dance stars at the Jersey Opera House. Illustrated by film footage, dancing from some very talented Jersey students and interviews with Lauren audience members also got to see two very special moments. Royal Ballet star Calvin Richardson took the breath away with his portrayal of the Dying Swan and at the end of the show there was a surprise for many of the audience as Lauren and Calvin danced a beautiful pas de deux from Swan Lake showing a range and depth of feeling that was just extraordinary.
The show was directed by local dancer Christophe Chateau with supporting performances from dancers provided by some of Jersey's top dance students at Silhouette School of Performance, Emma Jane Dance Academy, a dance group from Victoria College, Studio 16, Central School of Dance, and Jersey Academy of Dancing. All in all, there were nearly 100 performers setting the stage alight. The dancers showed many styles and some moving group dances as well as some wonderful solos. It was a credit to the island to have such talent on display.
Prior to the public performance, Lauren gave masterclasses to many of young talented Jersey dancers.
It was a credit to the dancers that on stage Lauren said that she “was thrilled with them and so pleased that everything she suggested was taken on board.” She felt, “very proud to see them on stage”.
It was an amazing opportunity for these dancers to have the input from such an accomplished star.
The musical walk took off from a packed Smuggler’s Inn on Ouaisne bay. Led by Ned Malet de Carteret, audiences aged from 3 to 87 were greeted with musical interludes from world renowned musicians, Morgan Szymanski and Harriet Mackenzie, and the Jersey Liberation Concert choir.
The performances, located at some of the most picturesque parts of the island, the headland between Ouaisne and St Brelade’s, the L’Horizon hotel, the Winston Churchill Memorial Gardens, and the Fisherman’s Chapel beautifully captured the liberation celebrations. After an invitation of tea and cake at a nearby cafe, the evening concert began in St Brelade’s beautiful Church. The evening saw further performances from Harriet, Morgan and the choir with a representation of German, English, American and Italian music from the 20th and 17th century to embody the 2017 celebrations. The audience gave the performers a standing ovation for the moving performances.
On Thursday 11th May, a magical pairing of food with music starring Harriet Mackenzie and Morgan Szymanski at Michelin starred restaurant Ormer took place. The music ranged from Spanish inspired food such as scallops wrapped in iberico ham to Italian Souffle to languid sounds music by Paganini. It was a match made in heaven and enthusiastically applauded by diners present.
On Friday 12th May, five of the world’s most celebrated stars performed a spectacular programme of chamber music sponsored by UBS Wealth Management. International violist Maxim Rysanov showed why many rate him as one of the finest in the world. He was joined by violinist Alexander Sitkovetsky and pianist Wu Qian fresh from the Lincoln Centre in New York, and a hungarian goddess on the cello Dora Kokas wearing a red dress with black shoes. The concert began with a passionate performance of Brahms’ Piano Quartet in G minor, with the four musicians moving together with incredible precision. A moving account of a wartime evacuee stranded on Jersey from narrator Rhona Richardson and her son Owen brought tears to the eyes. Then to tie in with the celebrations of liberation they were joined by Stacey Watton on the double bass to perform the exuberant Trout Quintet by Schubert.
Saturday 13th May saw another evening of beautiful music from 17th and 18th century Italian composers. The programme began with Geminiani’s “La Follia” Concerto Grosso, an electrifying masterpiece based around one of Corelli’s best works. This was followed by Pergolesi’s dramatic piece Stabat Mater. From the opening entries by the renowned counter tenor Lawrence Zazzo and soprano Soraya Mafi, the intertwining notes entertained the audience. Mr Zazzo from New Jersey opened his jacket in the prolonged applause to show off a “I love Jersey” cooking apron which provoked much laughter.
The second half was filled entirely with Vivaldi’s set of concertos known as the Four Seasons. They were dramatically performed by the acclaimed Russian violin soloist Alexander Sitkovetsky entirely by memory. His playing was incredibly vibrant and charismatic dovetailing beautifully with the Jersey Chamber Orchestra led by Anna Smith from the BBC Symphony Orchestra. The rich variety of sounds from a drunkard to a dog barking were vividly brought to life by some excellent playing by the orchestra. Many remarked that it was one of the finest concerts that they had ever seen in Jersey.
On Sunday 14th May, the celebrations were rounded off with swing and sunshine thanks to award winning vocalist and saxophone player Ray Gelato who performed as part of a magnificent day of jazz. At a packed Hamptone the family afternoon began with a joyous performance from Optimistic Voices, a local acapella group, before the crowds were serenaded by the Duncan Miller trio. The headline act Ray Gelato is a regular at Ronnie Scots’ in London, and Mr Gelato and his saxophone blew the crowd away with some swinging tunes and entertaining numbers as the audience picnicked on the lawn in the sunshine or ate in the Marquee. These remarkable musicians were the highlight, though new additions to the event sparkled including a collection of classic cars in the south courtyard including a Ferrari California and an E type jaguar. Children played happily on the bouncy castle, and Royston South’s balloon magic conjured up many animals and hats in an afternoon of family fun.
As in previous years, there was a number of educational events for children and musical masterclasses led by our visiting award-winning players for our Islands’ music students supported by the One Foundation and Deutsche Bank. This explored the BBC Ten pieces and featured over 1500 children taking part in making and learning about music.
A series of workshops in schools was also supported by PWC with string ensembles going into those schools who were not able to take part in the BBC 10 pieces project. Another exciting new initiative supported by the Association of Jersey Charities saw 300 tickets given to disadvantaged people and young students to make the concerts open to all.
With increasing number of international visitors, highly acclaimed artists taking part and great media interest, once again the Jersey Music Festival has very much fixed Jersey to the cultural map.