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Marsden Jazz Festival
2022
6th-9th
October
Jazz In The Yorkshire Pennines

News Post

Celebrating some of the women behind the festival

This year, to commemorate International Women’s Day and pay homage to some of the incredible women behind the making of our festival, we thought we’d introduce you to some of them and the wonderful work they do for the festival (plus some top music recommendations to add to your music library).

Although so much progress has been made towards gender equality, it’s by no means ‘solved’ and therefore International Women’s Day is as important as ever in 2022 as we fight for total gender equality – socially, economically and politically – in the UK and all over the world.

In 2019, we signed a pledge with Keychange PRS Foundation, a pioneering international initiative which transforms the future of music whilst encouraging festivals and music organisations to achieve a 50:50 gender balance, committing to achieve a 50:50 gender balance in our festival by 2022. We’re proud to say that we’ve hit that target as per the keychange guidelines (the guidelines said that 50% of the gigs we programme should contain at least 1 female/non-binary/transgender artist). In 2020, we exceeded the target through our Chronotope project which was 80% female-led performances. However, there’s always room for more and to take this mission for total equality further across the entire festival body, as well as our live event through wider representation of female/non-binary/transgender-led bands and headliners.

So, without further ado, here’s just some of the wonderful women that make up the inner-workings of Marsden Jazz Festival…

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Donna Heath

What’s your role within the festival?
I’ve been designing the festival branding (posters, programmes, newsletters, banners, merchandise etc) since 2009. It’s such a fun and exciting process – getting together with the festival team to discuss ideas, and finding out which artists will be performing this year always gets me buzzing!

What’s your favourite memory of a festival gone by?
So many! 2018 was great for me, simply because my niece Jazzy (perfect name!) was my festival buddy and we had the full festival experience – launch event, free and ticketed gigs, amazing food and drink at some wonderful eateries plus the market, and the highlight was the incredible Beats & Pieces Big Band. The energy and sheer joy emanating from the stage was off the scale!

Finally, who would be your top women in jazz music recommendation?
There are a couple that spring to mind – local singer Ruby Wood, whose career was launched at the festival, and who has performed there many times with various projects, was mesmerising as front woman of Submotion Orchestra in 2011 (that gig transformed my thinking about jazz). Also Lara Jones, who first performed at the festival in 2017 with J Frisco, is a really exciting artist – can’t wait to see what she does next!

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Daniela Gerstmann

What’s your role within the festival?

I have had a few roles, from co-producing a ‘Match&Fuse Presents’ gig to stage-managing MJF gigs. During the pandemic, I also production-managed three Chronotope films and supported the marketing team. What I’ve done for the festival is super varied: from managing concert schedules and coordinating a grand piano delivery on a hill to chaperoning chickens away from a musician’s car.

What’s your favourite memory of a festival gone by?

My favourite thing about the festival is the vibe, rather than a specific memory. People are out and about and are having the best time. It’s such a pleasant environment to be in.

Finally, what’s your top women in jazz music recommendation?

I haven’t listened to a lot of jazz recently because after working with this music for years, I needed a break. I do recommend checking out Lizzo. Her music should be available on prescription. We’d all have more good energy if it was.

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Trish Brown

What’s your role within the festival?

I’ve recently joined the board of trustees for Marsden Jazz Festival, which involves supporting the executive team to do a great job of producing a brilliant festival.

What’s your favourite memory of a festival gone by?

The first festival I attended was in 2021 and it was a real joy to wander the streets of Marsden hearing such a range of jazz throughout the village. I really enjoyed going from Camilla George grooving on the outdoor stage to Bex Burch’s free set in St Bartholomew’s with a guest moment from Xhosa Cole wandering around the space and his sax resonating in the natural acoustic.

Finally, what’s your top women in jazz music recommendation?

There are so many awesome women in jazz! I think one of them is Emma-Jean Thackray, a great producer, performer, and composer who brings a sense of excitement and intrigue to all their work. She is incredible to see live, and you always get taken on a journey of the unexpected which I absolutely love.

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Louise Halliwell

What’s your role within the festival?

My role within the festival is that of Treasurer, providing oversight and counsel around the financials for the festival. I work particularly closely with Barney the Creative Director and Richard the Chair to ensure that we’re spending money where it will have the biggest impact, and that we plan for future festivals in a sustainable way to ensure that it’s here to enjoy for many years to come!

What’s your favourite memory of a festival gone by?

My favourite Jazz Festival memory was actually last year – the first one following Pandemic. It was such an emotional weekend too see the festival back on after a rollercoaster 12 months, and standing on Peel Street with friends, listening to fantastic live music and seeing the audience really enjoying themselves really brought a tear to my eye. I hadn’t realised just how much I’d missed live music and the joy that it brings until that point.

Finally, what’s your top women in jazz music recommendation?

My top women in Jazz recommendation would be Cassie Kinoshi – fantastic Saxophonist. Absolutely brilliant with Seed ensemble at the 2019 festival. Would love to hear her play live again.

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Kate Button

What’s your role within the festival?

I am the lead volunteer and also a trustee of Marsden Jazz Festival. My role is to represent our volunteers and ensure their voice is heard at board meetings. I chair a subcommittee of amazing women who meet regularly (with wine of course) and between us we are responsible for approximately 100 volunteers. They fulfil an incredible range of roles across the festival and we let them know just how much they are valued.

What’s your favourite memory of a festival gone by?

One of my favourite memories was the 2005 festival where we celebrated 60 years since the end of the Second World War. We researched and produced food from the era, corned beef hash, blancmange etc and dressed up accordingly. Dennis Rollins, Soweto Kinch and The New Squadronaires were playing but a favourite with all the volunteers was Andy Sheppard. At the end of his set on the Sunday evening he gave a shout out to all the volunteers and there was a standing ovation.

Finally, what’s your top women in jazz music recommendation?

My top woman in Jazz recommendation would probably be Madeleine Peyroux. She is touring in this country in October and I would love to see her.

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