Spotlight On… Artistic Director of Ealing Music & Film Valentine Festival, Julian Gallant

Ealing Music & Film Valentine Festival opens on Wednesday 8 February 2017 and runs until Sunday 12 February 2017. You can see a full programme of events and find information to book your tickets here:

The Tippett String Quartet (Credit Philip Taylor)

I chatted to Artistic Director of the Festival, Mr Julian Gallant about exactly what his role entails and what festival goers can expect:

Thanks for talking to Break A Leg, Julian. Tell me about the Ealing Music & Film Festival and your role in it.

The Festival was started in 2013 by Angie Bray when she was MP and we – that’s me and my fellow Trustees Ann and Patrick Chapman –  kept it going when she moved on. It involves groups and individuals based in Ealing, notably the University of West London, English Chamber Orchestra, Tenebrae Choir, Ealing Youth Orchestra and Ealing Symphony Orchestra. I’m Artistic Director; I took over from the great Tony Palmer, so I’d better do it well. My job is to devise the programme and coordinate content. It’s good fun, but you have to make sure that you don’t duplicate, also that you are getting the best out of people. I write the bulk of the brochure; it’s a vital document and we sell it for a fiver. I never copy stuff from the net, always add something in which people won’t have read anywhere else.

What can the audience expect and what do you hope they will take away with them?

They can expect a wide range of top quality cultural events. If they want film, there are screenings of features but also the work of some of the best students at the University of West London. Music ranges from a brilliant piano recital by Emile Capulet – all music connected to Spain – to the Ealing Youth Orchestra’s playing of Mahler’s massive First Symphony. There’s R&B at the Ealing Club. What I hope they take away is an appreciation of how much Ealing has to offer. This year, for example, we’re featuring the Island Triangle, a little cluster of streets up near the Grand Union Canal which is one of Britain’s most filmed locations, used for movies like The Ipcress File and, more recently, Spider (2002). Some of the old railway cottages are preserved in their original 19th century state. There will be a tour of the area hosted by local residents, followed by a screening of Eddie The Eagle (2016). The idea is to help preserve the area’s architectural integrity.

Martin James Bartlett (Credit Kaupo Kikkas)

What does it mean to you to be a part of a festival which is local to you?

People think they have to travel to the centre of Town or abroad to see and hear wonders happening on their own doorstep. The Tippett String Quartet, for example, playing on 12 February at St. Mary’s Church, is one of the best in the world today – they were probably last heard at the Wigmore Hall.

What led you down this particular career path?

I’ve always been an organiser as well as a performer (pianist and conductor) and composer. Actually I see organising other people’s cultural efforts as an extension of my own. That’s why it’s very important to be working with people on the same wavelength.

What are your ambitions for the future?

Uppermost – getting more people in to hear great culture and breaking down the barriers that are perceived to be there. If I ever become a member of parliament, and I want to be, I’ll be looking to make cultural life much more accessible and beneficial for everyone. The Ealing Music and Film Festival is part of that; we sponsor a big outreach programme, getting professional musicians out into local schools and mentoring young musicians in The Ealing Youth Orchestra.

What would you say to encourage young people to take up music?

Two things. I’d say that there is always something new to do in music, so go and do it! And make the effort to listen to all the wonderful music around you. Live is best! Don’t worry too much whether it’s pop, classical, jazz, world, jungle, R&B etc; it’s all part of one glittering spectrum and if it sings, it sings!

Tenebrae Choir (Credit Chris O’Donovan}

Finally, what do you think the highlight of the festival will be?

I wish I didn’t have to choose but you’ve asked. On 9 February The Festival is bringing together Britain’s foremost chamber choir Tenebrae with the English Chamber Orchestra to perform Mozart’s Requiem. It won’t be less than transcendental!

Huge thanks to Julian for his time, we wish all the best to everyone involved on the festival!


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