Benjamin Britten is the focus of this year’s Ealing Autumn Festival as it joins in with his centenary celebrations.
The two-week festival is a fantastic mix of classical music, community fun, Britten-ology, local history and film. Floods are a theme within the programme, building up to a climactic live performance of Britten’s Noah’s Ark opera Noyes Fludde.
The concert programme puts Britten’s work in context, played among pieces by contemporaries and even popular music of the 1930s. The variety of concert times and prices is impressive, even including a free morning coffee-time performance and the chance to sit in on rehearsals. The big hitters are Ealing Youth Orchestra, aptly, playing Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra and the two performances of Noyes Fludde live in St John’s Church, featuring local people and children, on 26 and 27 October.
Britten’s documentary collaboration with WH Auden, Night Mail will be screened among other short films, in a rolling programme, as part of a celebratory day at Hanwell Community Centre on Sunday 13 October. Britten’s opera written for TV, Owen Wingrave, also gets an airing, in an Ealing resident’s residence and there’s an opportunity to see film maker Tony Palmer’s fifth and latest film about Britten, introduced by the Palmer, at St Barnabas Church.
To get you in the mood to appreciate the operatic retelling of the Flood, a guided walk and talk delve into the local history of flooding along the River Brent, accompanied by an exhibition of pictures of local flooding. For ancient historical perspective on waters rising, an expert from the British Museum talks about the Flood Tablet in Ealing Town Hall. If you’re taking children to Noyes Fludde, get them properly equipped with their own animal masks at a crafting session in Ealing Central Library.