Tunnel vision at Marsden Jazz Festival as cellist performs on canal

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Music-lovers will travel by boat down a canal tunnel to witness one of the highlights of this weekend’s Marsden Jazz Festival.

The Canal & River Trust, the charity which cares for the nation’s canals, is hosting a unique concert on Saturday afternoon in the historic Standedge canal tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal.

PIC: James Hardisty

PIC: James Hardisty

Organisers say cellist and composer Maja Bugge creates “music in dialogue with this unique space and its acoustic”, with the audience travelling by boat part way through the restored tunnel to listen.

Ms Bugge, a Norwegian cellist and composer based in Lancaster, is renowned for “balancing melodic and meditative improvisations with experimental material, as well as playing concerts and recording in unusual sites”.

Artistic director Barney Stevenson said: “We have organised a huge variety of events over the years, but its certainly one of the most unusual and complex to organise in a canal tunnel. I cannot wait to see the audience’s reaction to this very special event and welcome visitors to the picturesque Pennine village of Marsden for some wonderful music over the festival weekend.”

Marsden Jazz Festival is a significant annual event in the Yorkshire and UK festival calendar, with around 25 venues presenting 100 events from 6-8 October, the majority of which are free to attend.

Picture James Hardisty. The Canal & River Trust Charity, are hosting a unique concert on Saturday 7th October, in the middle of the Standedge canal tunnel on the Huudersfield Narrow Canal, as part of Marsden Jazz Festival in partnership with Jazz North.

Picture James Hardisty. The Canal & River Trust Charity, are hosting a unique concert on Saturday 7th October, in the middle of the Standedge canal tunnel on the Huudersfield Narrow Canal, as part of Marsden Jazz Festival in partnership with Jazz North.

Standedge Tunnel is Britain’s longest and deepest canal tunnel. Finally completed in 1811, it took 17 years to dig and cost the lives of 50 men.

Having fallen into decline due to competition from the railways the tunnel closed on 13th October 1916, before an ambitious restoration, dubbed the ‘impossible restoration’, saw it reopen in 2001.