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JAM/Red Note Ensemble, Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh

Since its establishment in 2000, the primary objective of The John Armitage Memorial Trust (JAM) has been to enable, commission and promote new music, often in a collaborative setting.

This six-concert tour fulfils this remit, presenting (in alliance with Red Note Ensemble) premiere performances alongside repeat airings of previous commissions.

They are also clearly keen to acknowledge more familiar repertoire, as demonstrated by the choice of Britten's Rejoice in the Lamb to open proceedings, although The University of Edinburgh Chamber Choir gave this unsatisfying work a better performance than it deserved. It was hard to see why they bothered with Leighton's Drop, Drop Slow Tears, even if the same composer's coruscating Paean gave us a thrilling demonstration of organist Thomas Wilkinson's remarkable facility.

It was when the focus turned to the more contemporary works in the programme the entire ensemble sounded most committed and impressive, ending the first half with a compelling rendition of Philip Cooke's evocative The Hazel Wood.

The Red Note brass players gave a confident performance of Rory Boyle's Tallis's Light, and to close was Julian Philips's expressive Body of Water, receiving its premiere on this tour. For this the choir was spread out antiphonally, strongly creating the sense of immersion so crucial to this piece. Featured tenor soloist Andrew Dickinson, ensconced in the central pulpit, gave a hugely assured performance, and conductor Michael Bawtree led the musicians with energy and skill.


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