I think it is appropriate to mark a personal milestone, namely the organization of 1500 Ealing concerts over the past 15 years, at St Mary’s Perivale and St Barnabas. Here is a brief overview of this period with some relevant details.
I served as a very busy Consultant Physician at Ealing Hospital from 1982 to 2006. However I have always been a musician ‘at heart’, and over this period I organized about 800 lunchtime concerts for patients and staff at the hospital, and gave many local concerts as a pianist, including several recitals at St Mary’s Perivale, and thus became involved with this wonderful church. It is a tiny 12th-century building which became redundant in 1972 and is now a classical music centre. It is stunningly beautiful, and has a magical ambience and excellent acoustics, and provides the perfect setting for instrumental and chamber music concerts. In 2003 I donated half the cost of a new Yamaha grand piano, and commenced Wednesday evening concerts there in 2004, becoming Chairman of the Friends of St Mary’s Perivale in September 2005, with an excellent and motivated team of friends. Since then we have held 870 concerts, detailed in the archive section of our website. For many years, we held 38-50 concerts per year on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings, and then in 2016, on the suggestion of Roger Nellist, we commenced additional Tuesday afternoon piano recitals, with the annual total rising to 120. The average attendance has been around 50, so the total of attendances is over 40,000. Most of our concerts are now ‘live-streamed’ and so reach a larger audience.
St Barnabas Ealing is a large active church with a magnificent organ and strong choral tradition. In 2007 I bought a Bösendorfer concert grand, previously used by the BBC at Maida Vale Studios, and this fine instrument has been the basis for all the concerts held since then, raising over £230,000 for church funds. I commenced Friday Lunchtime Concerts in September 2007, and these now exceed 530. There have also been 13 Weekend Festivals and 6 series of Summer Proms, including 3 complete cycles of Beethoven sonatas, played by 32 pianists, as well as festivals devoted to the piano music of Chopin (three times), Liszt and Haydn, and 3 organ festivals, as detailed here . All have involved much support from friends within the St Barnabas community.
Thus the tally of concerts at both venues currently stands at 870 (St Mary’s Perivale) and 630 (St Barnabas) or 1500 in total, with performances by over 400 pianists and 186 violinists etc, I have produced 1500 programmes, introduced about 1450 concerts and ‘turned pages’ for about 800 of them ! It has been a most fulfilling way to spend my retirement. It remains to be seen whether I can chalk up 2000 concerts in Autumn 2022, assuming my concerts continue with the same frequency as at present. Organizing 160 concerts per year is quite onerous, since each requires perhaps 6 emails to arrange the date, repertoire, biography, arrival time and other details, leaving relatively little time for other activities, such as piano and organ playing, and grandparent duties. However, it is immensely satisfying to act as a catalyst between so many brilliant young musicians based in London who are looking for performing opportunities, and the many people in Ealing who enjoy hearing ‘live’ classical music. I certainly aim to continue with these concerts for as long as possible. None of this would have been remotely possible without a superb and dedicated team of colleagues at St Mary’s Perivale (notably Roger Nellist) and at St Barnabas (notably Peter Haisman and Nick Barnes), and above all the total support of my wife, Dr Felicity Light. Onwards and upwards, to the 2000 mark….