the Festival started with a great party in St Michael's Church
on the Friday night before Green Days. There was a queue to get
into the preview of the Summer Exhibition, which this year was
advertised with a poster of the church by the Royal Academician,
William Bowyer. Several hundred people jostled to view and buy
the paintings, enjoying the live music and moving into the Parish
Hall for refreshments. No fewer than 138 local artists exhibited,
the work was of as high a standard as ever and with a third of
the proceeds going to Festival funds, another record sum was raised.
Two nights later, on the Sunday
evening, the church was also packed as the West London Bach Consort
and Players under Radio 3's Sandy Burnett performed Bach by Candlelight,
in the latest in their series of Bach Cantata concerts.
The following night came one
of the musical highlights of the Festival, when the leader of
the London Mozart Players, violinist David Juritz, and some of
his equally talented friends performed their annual Summer Serenade.
Works by Beethoven and Haydn were followed by supper for almost
a hundred in the Michael Room of St Michael's Parish Hall and
a further impromptu performance.
On the Tuesday night, there was
a concert in one of the fine Bedford Park houses in Woodstock
Road, courtesy of Louise and Patrick Grattan. Such house concerts
have been a feature of the Festival since it began in 1967. The
Festival String Quartet, plus Pauline Ismay on clarinet, played
two Fantasias by Purcell, a Mozart quartet and Clarinet Quintet
by Robert Fuchs. Another house concert later in the week, in The
Studio on South Parade, featured the ENO soprano Helen Kucharek
with Duke Dobing on flute and Sylvia Coutts on piano.
On Thursday, in the Parish Hall,
two local actors led the readings at the Poetry Evening. John
Rowe, who appeared earlier this year in the BBC film The Lost
Prince, and Sharon Duce, seen most recently in The Royle Family,
enthralled the audience with works on the theme of The Sea, The
Sea, ranging from Wordsworth to Rob Wilton! Other readers included
local poets Cahal Dallat and Anne-Marie Fyfe and more than 20
members of the audience in St Michael's Parish Hall.
The following night Sandy Burnett
returned to lead his jazz quartet in a stimulating evening of
improvisation and harmony in the church. Veteran guitarist Phil
Lee, saxophonist Martin Hathaway and young pianist Leon Greening,
plus Sandy on bass, performed a varied programme, from Fascinating
Rhythm to Sweet Georgia Brown, to a large and appreciative audience.
The evening was sponsored by Starbucks Chiswick.
Over the middle weekend, more
than 350 people packed into the church to watch the musical Annie,
performed with remarkable accomplishment by St Michael's Junior
Choir and the LEH Band (and friends). They rewarded the young
cast with loud and long applause for the highly enjoyable production.
"It was a very ambitious
show and the children showed great talent and confidence"
said Father Kevin Morris, vicar of St Michael's. "They put
a huge amount of work into it and so did the director and music
director and many of the parents."
The crucial role of Annie, the
optimistic orphan who inspires President Roosevelt to launch the
New Deal and lead America out of the Depression, was played by
8-year-old Milly Forrest with great verve and obvious enjoyment.
Her natural talent shone through and she sang and acted as though
she'd been on the stage for years.
The cruel orphanage owner Miss
Hannigan was played by Harriet Preston with great professionalism,
winning lots of laughs and singing and dancing with great style
and aplomb. Her brother, Archie Preston, brought great presence
to the role of President Roosevelt, and their young sister, Maisie,
brought the house down as one of the orphans, when she did the
splits at the end of the number 'You're Never Fully Dressed Without
Thomas Rogers and Jocelyn Juritz
played the scheming couple Rooster and Lily with great style,
Nick Chambers was an appealing billionaire in the role of Daddy
Warbucks and Emily Paines brought great charm to the part of his
secretary Grace. More than 30 other children played other roles,
and the big chorus numbers involving the orphans, the 'Hooverites',
the President's po-faced political advisers and the commercial
radio station were greeted with great applause.
Credit goes to the director Esta
Charkham and music director Phoebe Woollam and a large team of
parents, who helped with the sets, costumes, makeup and technical
production. The production was sponsored by Letts, the educational
publisher, which is based in the Chiswick High Road.
On the first Monday of the second
week, the choreographer Geraldine Stephenson gave a fascinating
talk about her pioneering work in putting dance on television.
She began in the early days of black-and-white TV, and created
dance sequences for all three BBC productions of Vanity Fair,
in the 60s, 80s and 90s. She showed clips from the last two and
ended by showing a hilarious dance sketch she'd produced for The
On Wednesday, more film and TV clips were shown by the director
Simon Curtis, who made the BBC's film of David Copperfield, starring
Maggie Smith, Ian McKellan, Bob Hoskins, Zoe Wanamaker, Nicholas
Lyndhurst and the young Daniel Radcliffe. He described how he'd
told Daniel he'd never work alongside so many stars again - not
realising that within a year he'd be cast as Harry Potter! He
also showed clips from BBC dramas featuring local actors Hugh
Grant, Colin Firth, Elizabeth McGovern and the young Dominic Howell,
who played the son in Man and Boy, some of which was filmed in
And there was something for everyone
on the final weekend. On the Saturday morning, more than 50 children
and their parents celebrated that day's publication of the new
Harry Potter book with Hogwarts games, quizzes, refreshments and
readings. Elizabeth McGovern held her audience spellbound as she
read two long extracts from the opening of Harry Potter and the
Order of the Phoenix. There was a Diagon Alley Tombola, offering
more than 50 prizes of Harry Potter cassettes, pyjamas, games
and other wizard merchandise. Refreshments included Gringot's
Ingots - choc ices in the shape of gold and silver bars from the
That evening, Kevin Morris, the
vicar of St Michael & All Angels, led the performers at The
Last Night of the Festival, singing songs from Flanders &
Swann, Gilbert & Sullivan and patriotic ditties. During the
interval, the audience of almost a hundred ate fish and chips
and ice cream, many of them picnicing on the grass outside the
The Church was packed out on
Sunday morning for the Festival Mass, with music from the Coronation
performed by the Bedford Park Festival Orchestra and Chorus, conducted
by Oliver West and Richard Hobson. In the afternoon, more than
350 people visited up to a dozen of the finest gardens in Bedford
Park, while the local architect John Scott led a party of 40 on
a tour of the most notable buildings in the world's first garden
Throughout the weekend, dozens
of people visited the Photographic Exhibition in the elegant Michael
Room, upstairs in St Michael's Parish Hall. More than 70 photographers
had entered over 300 pictures and the winners were voted for by
the visitors. The winners of each category were:-
A. Essentially Bedford Park - Oliver West
B. Portraits and People - Daniel Hunt
C. Animals - Michael Sodring
D. London - Tony Preston
E. Places - Rural or Urban - Jonathan Hibberd
F. Plants, Trees, Flowers - Michael Sodring
G. Smiles - Rupert Barclay
H. Sets of Photos - Mabella Farrer
I. Miscellaneous - Brian Boothby
J. Young entrant - 4-11 - Helena Bickley
K. Young entrant - 12-16 - James Scott
Best in Exhibition = Graham Wrigley, Gavin Jones, Helena Bickley.
"The weekend was a wonderful
climax to the Festival, which has been one of the best ever"
said Father Kevin Morris. "We're confident that when we've
done all the sums, we'll have met our target of raising £25,000
for St Mary's Convent & Nursing Home."
And indeed a giant cheque for
that amount was presented to Sister Jennifer of St Mary's at the
Festival Thank You party at the start of July.