Music and moorland combined in ground-breaking digital project from Marsden Jazz Festival

MARSDEN Jazz Festival is taking world-renowned musicians out onto the wild moorland and recording them playing live for online audiences to enjoy.

The Festival, one of the UK’s longest running jazz festivals, has found a way to entertain their audiences despite having to cancel their 2020 Festival in October due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Their new project is called Chronotope: Music in a Different Time and Place and it explores the ideas of music and its ability to transcend time and place.

The project includes recording and filming artists performing in iconic locations across Marsden Moor – bringing the countryside alive with sound and embracing the visual and sonic richness of the landscape.

Keeley Forsyth and Matthew Bourne (Image: Marsden Jazz Festival)

It is designed to create a much-needed platform for artists at a time when live music is difficult to stage and to help Marsden Jazz Festival develop its digital programme.

The first artists to perform on Marsden Moor were Keeley Forsyth and Matthew Bourne followed by Tom Challenger.

Singer and actor Keeley performed pieces from her album Debris, which The Sunday Times described as “one of the most remarkable in years” and was accompanied by pianist and composer Matthew Bourne on a portable harmonium.

Marsden-born Tom Challenger created a piece of music called Geond from the phrase ‘over yonder’, which used graphic scores and improvisation to draw attention to ancient and modern routes across the moorland from Roman roads, to an underground trans-European data line.

All the performances took place at iconic locations across Marsden Moor, including a performance through an iron door into a ruined pumphouse which once served the Standedge Tunnel; performances in two quarries with 360 degree sound reverberation; and a performance stood atop a WW2 sentry hut on Pule Hill, with panoramic views over the moorland.

Interviewed on the Marsden Jazz Festival Official Podcast, Matt said: “It was nice to get something booked in the diary and to potentially see light at the end of the tunnel.”

Tom Challenger (Image: Marsden Jazz Festival)

The audio for these performances was recorded by world-renowned sound artist Jez riley French and included not only the exceptional music by the artists, but also the rich and varied environmental sounds of the moorland itself.

These audio recordings are combined with awe-inspiring video footage from Marsden-based filmmaker Alistair I Macdonald, who combines close up shots with stunning aerial drone footage.

Barney Stevenson, artistic director at Marsden Jazz Festival said, “Witnessing artists performing first-hand was a magical experience – I hope that this magic, along with the visual and sonic aspects of the landscape that Jez and Alistair bring to the work, comes across in the films.”

The Chronotope project by Marsden Jazz Festival, supported by Arts Council England’s Emergency Response Fund, will run until the end of the year, with regular video and podcast content being published throughout that time.

Full length videos of all performances are available on the Marsden Jazz Festival YouTube channel as well as via their website

You can listen to the Marsden Jazz Festival podcast at or on the usual podcast platforms (Apple podcasts, Spotify, Amazon + Alexa, Google podcasts).

Keeley Forsyth and Matthew Bourne (Image: Marsden Jazz Festival)

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