EALING Festival of Music and Film, which may become an annual event, has been declared a great success.
A packed programme of events and exhibitions at numerous venues last weekend attracted audiences from across London and beyond.
They ranged from highbrow classical concert performances by world-class soloists through raga jam sessions, jazz, gospel and late night blues to tours of Ealing Studios, talks and special showings of classic films.
Festival trust chair Patrick Chapman, said: “I was shaken by the hand and thanked by people as they left each event. We have put this new brand on the map.”
The artistic centrepiece of the weekend was a concert by the English Chamber Orchestra at St Barnabas Church in Pitshanger Lane, featuring Tasmin Little playing a 1757 Guadagnini violin. Though Tasmin, who lives locally, has performed with many of the world’s great orchestras on every continent she had never previously played in Ealing.
The ECO, the most recorded chamber orchestra in the world, made a rare neighbourhood appearance near its headquarters in Coningsby Road.
Festival artistic director Tony Palmer said: ” I always knew the audience was there for adventurous programming. When I first suggested the Britten concerto, people laughed, but the audience loved it. There was an excitement in the air. This festival has a unique buzz.”
Mr Palmer also highlighted the contribution of Sylvia Syms, reminiscing about her colourful experiences as a glamorous actress during a 50-year career in British films and a lecture by cultural historian Mark Duguid, of the British Film Institute. discussing social influences on a century of filmmaking at Ealing Studios.
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey, who launched the weekend’s events at a gala reception on Thursday evening, said this week: “The festival was a brilliant reminder that Ealing is one of the great cultural hearts of London and, indeed, the UK. As the birthplace of British Rhythm and Blues and home to the oldest continuously-working film studio in the world, Ealing has proud associations. I’m delighted to see its history being celebrated in this way.”
The initial suggestion for the festival came from Angie Bray MP at the town hall in February 2010 during a meeting on how to regenerate the centre of the borough. She suggested a winter arts festival as Ealing is already
widely known for festivals during the rest of the year.
Among other festivals, Ealing now hosts the biggest jazz festival in Europe, coming up to its 29th year, a summer comedy extravaganza established in 1997, an autumn literature and music festival begun three years ago, and the Ealing Festival of Music, Dance, Speech and Drama, run in April and May each year since 1947.
The MP said of the new festival: “Coupling it with Valentine’s Day adds encouragement for people to go out on the town. Judging by the response, we are keen to make this an annual event.”