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Highlights from 2010 - 2017

Showing how the festival has grown, developed new values and dealt with depleted funding. Scroll down to see each year since 2010.

2016 - 2017

Truth and Reconciliation

We developed a digital version of Mozart's Dice Game and took it to the Mozilla Festival and Ealing Libraries, with workshops in coding and 3-D printing.


Local artists produced an exhibition which went on a nine month tour of all thirteen of Eaing's libraries.


At each library, visitors were invited to make a fabric letter to create a Public Collage and spell out the words: Truth and Reconciliation. Every library produced its own unique design at its Open Day.


The Open Day at Ealing Central Library fell on April 23rd and the activities focused on Shakespeare. The event was celebrated with poetry and the Public Collage shown below.


Printed quotations about Truth and Reconciliation prompted discussion relating to these topics.

2015 - 2016

Magna Carta

A Walk through the End of Time (Jessica Duchen) and Quartet for the End Time (Messiaen) brought together two complementary works. Messiaen's quartet was written and performed while he was imprisoned.


George Szirtes judged the Magna Carta poetry competition and led open discussion about the refugee crisis. Refugees were attempting to move from Hungary into Austria. He had recently visited Hungary, whence years before he had made that same journey, illegally, on foot, as a child with his family.


Local artists of the 4020 art group produced an exhibition based on the 25 Magna Carta barons' coats-of-arms and the royal coat-of-arms of King John. They used 13th century illustrations and decorative techniques to finish the paintings which are now looked after by the Runnymede Education Centre.


The exhibition toured Ealing Libraries with craft sessions for participants to create their own coats-of-arms. Young Magna Carta Ambassadors explained the meaning of Magna Carta. The exhibition continued into 2016 at Hanwell Community Centre.

West London Sinfonia

celebrated Magna Carta


The Lincoln Portrait                                Copland

The Gettysburg Address is spoken in this piece 

Adagio for Strings                                     Barber

Peterloo Overture                                     Arnold

Symphony No5                                   Beethoven

Voskresenije toured Ealing Libraries, working with a children's choir and instrumentalists, bringing music performance for the first time to the libraries.


They sang works that had been banned in Russia until 1981. Voskresenije was formed in 1983.


Stars in the Family - Galileo, Lloyd Webber, Szirtes

Galileo! : a new community opera written by Gillian Spragg in popular demand for a sequel to 2013's production of Noye's Fludde. Galileo himself celebrated in the new opera and in letters from his daughter, in poetry reading, in art work depicting real and imagined galaxies and in an exploration of his astronomical chart, all taking place in a variety of participatory activities. His father, Vicenzo, remembered through some acoustic activities, part of a children's contribution to The Toy Symphony.


William Lloyd Webber celebrated in chamber music (Verter Piano Trio including Jiaxin, Julian Lloyd Webber's wife - who also hosted the event), in song and in orchestral music.


The Szirtes Family, George, Clarissa (Upchurch), Helen and Tom, celebrating and sharing their interest and expertise in visual art, writing, song writing, poetry (another kind of writing), deep house and other activity on the borders of art and software.


Orbits by Wally Sewell: a new play commissoned by the festival with a plot where the two protagonists overlap each other, Brecht, Galileo, an inquistor and the CIA. It has toured Germany, Poland and the UK.


Don Giovanni: a new production by Opera Vera staged in a local church with thrilling results. Hugely talented young group of singers bolstered on this occasion by Enrico Fissore (The Commendatore), of the Metropolitan Opera, New York. The opera tells the story of a father returning from the grave to avenge his daughter against Don Giovanni.

The First Battle of Ypres

Commemorated by daily tweeting of contemporary records of the battle 100 years later to the day.


Britten among friends and the Fludde

The Story of a Suite - Cello Suite No3 by Britten: the story and creation of the suite was told against the background of Britten's interest in Russian music, encouraged by friendships Russian musicians. The events started with Elegy of Life directed by Sokurov, a film about Mstislav Rostropovich with whom Britten was close friends and for whom he wrote his cello suites. There was also a short photographic exhibition showing Britten and Peter Pears in Russia with Rostropovich, Galina Vishnevskaya, his wife, and Shostakovich.


The three Afternoon Concerts were given by the Addision Singers, Voskresenije, Gillian Spragg (piano) and Matthew Barley (cello), who also spoke about the work and played the relevant movement by Bach. They guided the audience through the Russian folksongs arranged by Tchaikovsky, through the first movement of Bach's Cello Suite No1 and then Kontakion for the Departed, on which Britten based the suite. The Russian folksongs were balanced by English folksong and an entertaining comparison of The Grand Old Duke of York in traditional English setting with a version, in Russian, made by Shostakovich. The programme included The Poet's Echo, by Britten for Vishnevskaya, and appropriately chosen choral works by Shostakovich and Rachmaninov.


The performance of the Cello Suite No3 was the centre-piece. It is a difficult work to understand but this presentation made it completely accessible.

Noye's Fludde: a professionally-led community group of some 100+ singers and players gave two outstanding performances. The children took part in making their own costumes and masks, with some professional help, and the ripieno players were all found through local instrumental teachers. The enthusiasm, skill and commitment brought to the performances made it an unforgettable experience - in a deprived part of Ealing.


The Flood Tablet: Dr Irving Finkel of the British Museum spoke brilliantly about a clay tablet dating from the 7th century BC. In Sumerian, it tells the oldest known story about a great flood.


Night Mail and other 1930s GPO industrial documentaries featuring words and music by Auden and Britten, directed by Cavalcanti, were screened in the setting of The Cuckoo Estate, a 1930s development, and Hanwell Community Centre. When HCC was still a workhouse, Charlie Chaplin had been sent here. The exhibition All our Fludde Stories gave information about the way in which local flooding had been dealt with. At the same time, Britten's Noye's Fludde was suggested to have been conceived as a means of social healing for a population devastated by the 1953 Great Flood.


Delius and Dickens

Julian Lloyd Webber gave an outstanding recital celebrating Delius in a series of concerts that included Mate Racz, The Bridge Quartet, Viv McLean, Anando Mukerjee and Gillian Spragg playing little-heard works of real value. Celebration of both Delius and Dickens in film


Arya: a Sanskrit word meaning "noble" and a play on words with "aria" (Italian) for the afternoon song recital, where Anando Mukerjee showed cross-cultural influence.

.... to 1934: piano recital presenting three British composers of different character and generations, brought together by the year they shared for their deaths.


Nicholas Nickleby: directed by Cavalcanti (1947) and screened in a very rare opportunity at Ealing Studios, where it was made alongside the other three Dickens films shown at the festival.


Delius in Hanwell 1892: the guided walk included a visit to the house where Delius stayed in 1892. The owners opened their doors to the 60 people who came on the walk. We put together a team to publish a heritage guide for the event.


The combination of Delius's visit to Hanwell (part of Ealing) and the proximity of Ealing Studios gave a real sense of connection to the festival in 2012.


Liszt and the Genius of Hungary

Everywhere we looked there seemed to be Hungarians who had done something exceptional.

Liszt was only the beginning!

Film featured strongly with experimental titles by Jancso to classics such as Casablanca, The Third Man and The Red Shoes, itself a ballet work within a film, all directed or produced by Hungarians.

In memory of Petofi (Liszt)  was  played  by  Gillian Spragg.

Mate Racz (violin) then read Petofi's revolutionary poem Nemzeti dal  ("National Song") in Hungarian, translating it into English, a combination that was surprisingly deeply moving for the light-heartedness of the Coffee Time Concert.

In his two talks, George Szirtes included a poem he had written about the recent riots in Ealing, Children of Albion.

The film of Marguerite et Armand was a rare chance to see this ballet, set only to Liszt's Piano Sonata, and played by Tamas Vasary. Particularly interesting being paired with The Red Shoes.

The complete Annees de Pelerinage, unusually presented with readings describing the scenery and literature that inspired them. Another outstanding event with internationally acclaimed pianists, organised by Dmitri Alexeev and Tanya Sarkissova, his wife, readings compiled and presented by Gillian Spragg.

The Hungarian National Day was organised together with the Hungarian community.


Children of Glory (film) depicted the Hungarian water polo team winning an Olympic match, as the Russian army moved into Hungary in 1956.


Muszikas: outstanding Hungarian folk group gave an authentic performance to bring the day to an end.


Romance with Russia

Liszt's Grandes Etudes de Paganini were played beside the Caprices for Violin (Paganini - played by Ben Baker) showing how the Etudes were inspired. We were very fortunate to find two players who were able to manage such difficult music in the same recital.

Hungarian food stalls were at Ealing Shopping Centre and dancers who also entertained the audience in Ealing Town Hall. The Liszt Installation, based on a portrait of Liszt, was shown among Hungarian craftwork, especially embroidery belonging to the Countess of Esterhazy. A poster exhibition displayed a brief history of Hungary.

Dmitri Alexeev gave a mighty recital of Liszt's transcriptions which showed Liszt's keenness to transmit more music before recording had been invented and the inspiration he found in Wagner's music. Kate Sheppard sang the Wesendoncklieder.


Art Games had its final outing before going on tour to Holland and Germany.

War and Peace Tolstoy: a complete reading in public of the entire novel, given by volunteers in various venues and taking place during the course of the two-week festival. Stephen Pound MP gave the final reading at Ealing Town Hall.


Voskresenije, chamber choir of eight soloists from St Petersburg, directed by Jurij Maruk: programme included the complete performances of the 43 songs by Balakirev, accompanied by Gillian Spragg, in a series of three recitals, as well as Russian liturgical and secular works and folksongs.


War and Piece: all-day screening of Bondarchuk's entire cinematographic masterpiece, completed in 1968.


Dmitri Alexeev, internationally acclaimed pianist, gave a gala piano recital of Russian music, including Balakirev, at Ealing Town Hall, the first piano recital since Vladimir Ashkenazy's appearance in the 1960's.


Film played an important role in filling in gaps where live performance would not have been possible.

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