St Mary's Perivale in 2017 – the year in profile.
Introduction : 2017 has been a very significant year for the Friends of St Mary's Perivale. Our total number of concerts has exceeded 100 for the first time, and we have a combined audience total for the year of over 6000, with performances by over 200 musicians. Here is an analysis of the year in facts and figures, with a few reflections. I am very grateful to my colleague Roger Nellist for providing the information in this report, as well as initiating the Tuesday afternoon piano recitals and so much else.
The Number of concerts: This has increased dramatically over the past two years, following the introduction of Tuesday afternoon piano recitals in Summer 2016. From 2010 to 2015 there were 40-50 concerts per year, mainly on Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings. With the additional Tuesday concerts, the total has risen to 79 in 2016 and 107 in 2017. Allowing for the summer and Christmas holidays, there are thus 3 concerts in most ‘term time' weeks – and 4 including the lunchtime concerts at St Barnabas Ealing. The 107 concerts comprised 42 Tuesday afternoon piano recitals, 34 Wednesday evening concerts, and 31 Sunday or Bank Holiday afternoons. A detailed archive of all the concerts, musicians and repertoire is available here.
Musicians : We have held 58 solo piano recitals, given by 56 pianists, listed at the end of this document. We are proud of the extraordinary calibre of these musicians, comprising some of the best young pianists in the world. They come from 25 countries, with 12 (21%) from the UK, 6 from Russia, 4 each from Ukraine and Italy, and 3 from China and Poland, 2 from Germany, Hungary, Japan, South Korea and USA and 1 each from Australia, Bulgaria, Cuba, Estonia, France, Georgia, Israel, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Serbia, Singapore, Syria and Uzbekistan. Other solo musicians (playing alone or with piano) included 19 violinists, 2 viola players, 7 cellists, 2 flautists, 2 oboists, 2 clarinettists, 1 accordionist and 4 singers. There have been performances by 12 trios and 12 larger ensembles, including two octets. The total of musicians is thus over 200 - 56 solo pianists, 39 other solo instrumentalists, about 25 piano ‘accompanists', 36 musicians playing in trios, and about 50 musicians playing in larger ensembles.
Audience statistics : The average audience for Tuesday afternoon concerts in the year was 51, that of Wednesday evenings 49 and that of Sunday and other concerts 72. The overall average was 56, with a total attendance of over 6000 for the year. The church has seating for 70 in the nave, and a further 15 or so in the chancel behind the musicians, unless there is a large ensemble. So these attendance statistics are generally very satisfactory, although the audiences on Wednesday evenings are occasionally disappointing. Audience members now travel to our concerts from across London and the Home Counties, and are no longer exclusively from Ealing and surrounding areas.
Tuesday afternoon piano recitals : The outstanding feature of the past two years has been the extraordinary success of this venture. Accepted wisdom states that concerts should be held either at a weekend or on a weekday evening or lunchtime – certainly not on a Tuesday afternoon at 2pm ! We were expecting a small group of perhaps 15-20 ‘pianophiles' to attend these concerts, yet the average is 51. Many audience members are retired and don't like to travel to the church in the evening, and yet enjoy a short afternoon concert . The remarkably high calibre of the pianists has contributed to the success of these concerts , as has the varied repertoire and the format – 60 minutes with no interval, rather than the usual 90 minutes.
Sunday afternoon concerts : These comprise either piano recitals from some of our best pianists or big chamber ensembles, and attract excellent audiences from a wide area. They have the standard format of two halves of about 40 minutes, followed by tea and home-made cakes. The latter have proved very popular indeed.
Wednesday evening concerts : These are usually in ‘double-concert' format, with two contrasting halves, each of about 45 minutes. This is designed to make the concerts more attractive, and enables us to provide more concert ‘slots' for musicians. However, it has sometimes proved difficult to attract an audience on dark winter evenings, particularly in bad weather. Our questionnaire surveys suggest that the choice of repertoire is a crucial factor in determining audience size, as is the choice of musicians. Singers tend to produce a smaller audience.
Social factors : We try to make the whole ‘concert experience' as attractive as possible, by working on social as well as musical aspects. Our questionnaire surveys show that the audience appreciates the friendly welcome and informality of our concerts, which contrasts with the ‘stuffy' and impersonal atmosphere sometimes encountered in Central London venues. The free drinks and nibbles at the end of evening concerts, and the tea and cakes on Sunday afternoons, are an important component. Yet some local concert-goers still prefer to travel to concerts in Central London rather than come to Perivale, for reasons which are currently unclear.
Publicity : We send out a detailed weekly email flyer to over 2300 email addresses, and we produce 2500 copies of two leaflets listing forthcoming Tuesday recitals, and the Sunday and Wednesday ones, three times per year. We have an active presence on Facebook, with the concert posts receiving an average of almost 1000 views, and are developing our Twitter profile. This has improved our profile within the classical music community, although it remains unclear whether it has boosted our audience figures.
Recordings : All concerts in 2017 have been recorded in ‘broadcast quality' with our 6 High Definition cameras and high quality microphones, and the video files have been distributed to the musicians. We are very fortunate in having the professional expertise of ex-BBC staff in installing this impressive equipment, which rivals virtually any venue in London. There are now 250 excerpts from concerts and other recording sessions on our Youtube channel. These have been viewed a total of over 250,000 times.
History book : 2017 saw the publication of a new illustrated history of the church, covering all facets of the church and churchyard over the past 800 years or more. This is being sold at Pitshanger Bookshop and at any of our concerts, with the proceeds going to the Friends.
Next year: We plan to continue this frenetic schedule of concerts in 2018, along similar lines, with 4 concerts in the first week of January ! Our Wednesday and Sunday concerts are booked up until July, and the Tuesday concerts until October. I receive about 20 requests from aspiring musicians for concerts each week, and reluctantly have to refuse most of them. The highlight of 2018 will be our Chopin Festival in June, when 21 pianists will play virtually all Chopin solo piano works over 5 sessions from Friday to Sunday June 15th to 17th– 12 hours of piano music.
The team : The lively programme detailed above can only be maintained with the combined input of our Executive Committee, which comprises myself (Chairman), Roger Nellist (Vice-Chairman), Richard Norris (Hon Treasurer), Eileen Eden (Membership secretary), Lucille Allen, Joan Ansell, George Auckland, Roger Blundell, John Hummerston, Stanley Klar, John Newbegin, Judith Price, Gill Rowley, Simon Shute, Rod Waldes and Sherry White.
Postscript : Here is a list of the 56 pianists who have given solo recitals at St Mary's Perivale in 2017 :Alim Beisambayev, Tommaso Carlini, Martin Cousin, Emmanuel Despax, Alicja Fiderkiewicz, Ashley Fripp, Evgeny Genchev, Jamina Gerl, Jayson Gillham, Ana Gogava, Caterina Grewe, Sasha Grynyuk, Marisa Gupta, Tyler Hay, Andrei Iliushkin, Gamal Khamis, Dinara Klinton, Ilya Kondratiev, Jianing Kong, Renata Konyicska, Lukasz Krupinski, Konstantin Lapshin, Daniel Lebhardt, Tommy Leo, Edward Leung, Marcos Madrigal, Victor Maslov, Viv McLean, Lara Melda, Mishka Rushdie Momen, Chloe Mun, Asagi Nakata, Riyad Nicolas, Olga Paliy, Mengyang Pan, Aleksandar Pavlovic, Vitaly Pisarenko, Costanza Principe, Sandro Russo, Tamila Salimdjanova, Aristo Sham, Colin Stone, Maksim Stsura, Iyad Sughayer, Jenna Sung, Michal Szymanowksi, Masayuki Tayama, Pavel Timofeyevsky, Julian Trevelyan, Anna Tsybuleva, Alexander Ullman, Rokas Valuntonis, Irene Veneziano, Mark Viner, Amit Yahav, Yuanfan Yang