All you need is extra tickets and a new venue for music film-maker Tony Palmer’s Harrogate Film Festival event

Film-maker Tony Palmer with The Beatles’ John Lennon

A RUSH of ticket sales has prompted a change of venue for The Rock Goes To The Movies evening with BAFTA-winning filmmaker Tony Palmer next month in Harrogate.

This exclusive Harrogate Film Festival event on March 12 will switch from RedHouse Originals art gallery to The Clubhouse at Cold Bath Brewing Co, on Kings Road, only five minutes from the original location on Cheltenham Mount.

“The evening sold out all its stickers at £12 a pop so quickly that we’ve have had to move to a bigger location,” says Harrogate Advertiser journalist and Charm event promoter Graham Chalmers, a stalwart of the Harrogate music scene, who will be hosting the Q&A with the legendary film-maker, now 77.

“That means extra tickets have been put on sale and are available via the box office at Harrogate Theatre.”

All existing tickets are still valid for the new venue for the 7pm event that will combine a film screening with the Q&A session about Palmer’s work with The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Leonard Cohen, Rory Gallagher, Cream, Frank Zappa, The Who, Donovan and many more.

The London-born film-maker and cultural critic has more than 100 films to his name, ranging from early works with The Beatles, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher (Irish Tour ’74) and Frank Zappa (200 Motels), to his classical profiles of Maria Callas, Margot Fonteyn, John Osborne, Igor Stravinsky, Richard Wagner, Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams and more besides.

Over the past 50 years, Palmer has received more than 40 international prizes, including 12 gold medals from the New York Film Festival, along with numerous BAFTAs and Emmy Awards.

The Beatles: rare screening of Tony Palmer’s film of the Fab Four will be a highlight of the Harrogate Film Festival event on March 12

Palmer, who served an apprenticeship with Ken Russell and Jonathan Miller, made the landmark film All My Loving, the first ever about pop music history, first broadcast in 1968.

He was responsible too for the iconic live film Cream Farewell Concert, shot at the supergroup’s last-ever show at the Royal Albert Hall: a memorable night with Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in 1968.

Harrogate Film Festival founder Adam Chandler says: “Tony Palmer’s glittering career deserves such an event, so we can’t wait to welcome him. We’re delighted this film-making legend is so popular and are grateful to our venue partners, Cold Bath Brewing Co and RedHouse Originals, for enabling this exciting event to happen.”

Host Chalmers says: “Palmer is the greatest arts documentary filmmaker Britain has produced in the past 50 years and personally knew most of the greatest figures in the classical music world, as well as rock music.

“The fact he’s making the journey to Harrogate as a stand-alone event shows how highly regarded Harrogate Film Festival is nationally and shows that Harrogate, despite appearances, is a town with a genuine rock’n’roll pedigree.”

RedHouse Originals gallery previously has played host to Pop Art doyen Sir Peter Blake and still will be involved in next month’s event, hanging classic 1960s’ artwork and photography at The Clubhouse and curating the music playlist for the after-show party.

The sleeve artwork for All You Need Is Love, Tony Palmer’s 1977-1978 series on The Story Of Popular Music

Presented by Chalmers in conjunction with Harrogate Film Society, Rock Goes To The Movies will feature a rare screening of Palmer’s film about The Beatles that featured in his All You Need Is Love TV series, with a script by Fab Four insider Derek Taylor, plus clips from Palmer’s Cream Farewell Concert film.

Tickets available from harrogatetheatre.co.uk, on 01423 502116 or in person from the Harrogate Theatre box office. More information on the 2020 Harrogate Film Festival at harrogatefilm.co.uk.

Any profits from the evening will go to Harrogate Film Society and Harrogate Film Festival.



Tony Palmer’s ten music films
1. All You Need Is Love,1975-1976,17-part series on the history of American Popular Music from Bing Crosby to The Beatles.
2. Bird On A Wire, 1972, featuring Leonard.
3. All My Loving,1968, including The Who, The Beatles and more.
4. Cream Farewell Concert 1968.        
5. 200 Motels – Frank Zappa,1971.
6. Rory Gallagher – Irish Tour,1974.        
7. A Time There Was, 1979, profile of composer Benjamin Britten.
8. Tangerine Dream – Live In Coventry Cathedral,1975.
9. Ginger Baker In Africa,1971.
10. Wagner – By Charles Wood, music conducted by Georg Solti, photographed by Vittorio Storaro; with Richard Burton, Vanessa Redgrave and Laurence Olivier,1983.

City Screen to celebrate Federico Fellini’s films with Vintage Sundays season

Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg in Federico Fellini’s 1960 film La Dolce Vita

ITALIAN film director Federico Fellini will be the focus of a Vintage Sundays retrospective season at City Screen, York, from March 8.

Dave Taylor, City Screen’s marketing manager, says: “We’re delighted to present five films from the maestro of Italian cinema on Sundays at midday throughout March and stretching into April.”

First up, on March 8, will be Fellini’s first international success, 1953’s I Vitelloni (PG), a nakedly autobiographical film, set in his hometown of Rimini, that follows the lives of five young vitelloni, or layabouts.

1956’s Night Of Cabira (PG), on March 15, bridges the transition between Fellini’s early neo-realist period and his later more fantastical works. His bittersweet and eloquent glimpse into the life and dreams of an eternally optimistic prostitute in Rome later provided the inspiration for the musical Sweet Charity.

La Dolce Vita (12A), from 1960, is an era-defining sensation that chronicles seven nights and seven dawns in the life of gossip journalist Marcello in a vast widescreen fresco of the glitterati of Rome at the height of Italy’s post-war economic boom. Marcello Mastroianni and Anita Ekberg star.

Fellini’s 1963 film, 8½ (15), on March 29, is a semi-autobiographical portrait of creative block and one of the great films about film-making. Beleaguered auteur Guido is unable to finish the film he has planned, luxuriating in his inner conflicts.

The Fellini finale will be 1965’s Juliet Of The Spirits (15) on April 5. His first colour feature is an exercise in the neuroses and fantasies of a woman, played by Fellini’s wife, Giulietta Masina, who suspects that her husband is betraying her.

All the films will start at 12 noon. Bookings can be made on 0871 902 5747, at picturehouses.com or in person at the Coney Street Picturehouse cinema. 

What’s on the horizon at York’s National Centre for Early Music this spring?

Richard Durrant: cycling from concert to concert en route from Orkney to Sussex. York awaits on June 14

THE National Centre for Early Music’s 20th anniversary spring season in York opens not with the raising of a glass of champagne, but with a Cuppa & A Chorus.

Led by community musician Chris Bartram, the 2pm to 4pm session on February 24 is an opportunity to sing in a relaxed environment and enjoy a cup of tea, a slice of cake and a friendly chat.

Up to 50 singers attend each monthly gathering to sing “songs you know and love and explore new ones from around the world”, and further sessions of “Connecting Through Singing” will follow on March 30, April 20, May 18 and June 22. The charge is £3.50 each time; booking is recommended and more details can be found at ncem.co.uk/cuppachorus.

Helen Charlston: taking part in the University of York Song Day on February 29. Picture: Ben McKee

2020’s concert programme opens with the University of York Song Day, an afternoon and evening of three concerts under the title The Year of Song on Leap Year Saturday, February 29. The focus falls on romantic lieder in the 19th century company of Robert Schumann at 12.30pm; Robert and Clare Schumann at 3pm and their protégé Johannes Brahms, along with Robert, at 7pm.

Soprano Bethany Seympour, mezzo-soprano Helen Charlston, tenor Gwilym Bowen and fortepiano player Peter Seymour perform the first and last concerts; soprano Emily Tindall, bass Jonty Ward and fortepiano player Nicky Losseff, the middle one.

Silent Films At The NCEM return with Franz Osten’s 1928 epic Shiraz: A Romance Of India (cert U) on March 8 at 7.30pm, telling the story behind the creation of the Taj Mahal, screened in a BFI restoration with a score by Anoushka Shankar.

Acoustic Triangle: blurring the boundaries between classical, jazz music and the avant-garde on June 23

As part of the Yorkshire Silent Film Festival, running from May 5 to 17 with live music in village halls, theatres, cinemas and the NCEM, a double bill of Funny Business (U) at 4pm and The Woman  One Longs For (PG) at 7pm will be shown on May 10.

Jonny Best’s piano accompanies Laurel & Hardy and comedy’s greatest female clown, Mabel Normand, in Funny Business; Best is joined by violinist  Irine Rosnes for Curtis Bernhardt’s 1929’s German film, The Woman One Longs For, wherein Marlene Dietrich shines in her first starring role as a mysterious femme fatale in a steamy tale of erotic obsession.

Folk At The NCEM has two concerts to be presented in association with York’s Black Swan Folk Club: Urban Folk Quartet, supported by Stan Graham, on March 9 and Kathryn Roberts & Sean Lakeman’s On Reflection show on April 22.

Jazz drummer Jeff Williams: in Bloom at the NCEM. Picture: Bob Hewson

Urban Folk Quartet’s high-energy, multi-instrumental virtuosos Joe Broughton, Paloma Trigas, Tom Chapman and Dan Walsh combine Celtic tunes and traditional song with Afrobeat, Indian classical, funk and rock.

2020 marks 25 years of husband-and-wife duo Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman making music together. To celebrate this anniversary, they take a whistle-stop tour through their past, revisiting and reinterpreting songs from the early days of folk supergroup Equation to latest album Personae, via a nod or two to their extra-curricular musical adventures.

Scottish traditional folk duo Aly Bain & Phil Cunningham, who have toured together since 1986, play on March 29 and folk guitarist, composer and ukulele player Richard Durrant returns to the NCEM on June 14 as part of his Music For Midsummer tour that will take him 860 miles by bicycle from Orkney to Sussex.

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman: whistle-stop tour through 25 years of making folk music

On his fourth and longest Cycling Music adventure, travelling with his guitar and ukulele, he will be showcasing his new album Weald Barrows. “I’ll be cycling down from Orkney alone this year and this will, for me at least, introduce a magic and a concentration to the music,” says Durrant, whose 7.30pm concert will be featured in the York Festival of Ideas.

On May 25, the NCEM plays host to Youth Sampler Day from 11am to 4pm, a chance for 12 to 18-year-old musicians to play by ear, develop their creativity and discover more about the National Youth Folk Ensemble.

“This is a fantastic opportunity for young musicians to learn from inspiring professional musicians, with no experience of folk music necessary, and there’ll be opportunities to take part in a short audition for the ensemble too,” says NCEM director Delma Tomlin.

Antonio Forcione: return visit to the National Centre for Early Music

Jazz At The NCEM presents the returning Italian guitarist Antonio Forcione on April 26; legendary London and New York drummer Jeff Williams’ Bloom trio, featuring pianist Carmen Staaf and bass guitarist Michael Formanek, on May 17, and University of York Jazz Orchestra, directed by James Mainwaring, with composer John Low on piano,  in a May 29 programme spanning quasi-classical textures to full-on big band sounds.

The jazz line-up continues with innovative trumpet player and composer Byron Wallen’s Four Corners, with Rob Luft, on guitar, Paul Michael on bass and Rod Young on drums, on June 10, when they will be taking part in the York Music Forum Showcase too.

In a concert embraced by the York Festival of Ideas, Wallen will be putting his new album Portrait in the spotlight, conceived when sitting in the central square in Woolwich and being struck by the community around him with its mixture of ages and nationalities. Wallen last played at the NCEM last October as a member of Cleveland Watkiss’s band.

Trumpet player Byron Wallen: leading Four Corners at the NCEM. Picture: Urszula Tarasiewicz

Acoustic Triangle blur the boundaries between classical, jazz music and the avant-garde on their return to the NCEM on June 23 with their adventurous repertoire of compositions by band members Tim Garland (saxophone, bass clarinet) and Gwilym Simcock (piano), plus Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Bill Evans, Olivier Messiaen and Maurice Ravel. Double bassist Malcolm Creese completes their line-up.

World Sound At The NCEM welcomes more returnees, Scottish combo Moishe’s Bagel, on March 27 with their cutting-edge, intoxicating, life-affirming Eastern European and Middle Eastern folk and klezmer music.

Everything stops for tea at 7.30pm on June 9 in the second World Sound event, Manasamitra’s Tea Houses: Camellia Sinensis, a show that tells the story of tea as new live music mixes with lighting and soundscapes, participatory tea rituals and ambisonic technology that captures the audience’s emotional responses in the performance space.

Teatime at the NCEM in Manasamitra’s Tea Houses: Camellia Sinensis

Creator Supriya Nagarajan uses her experience of synaesthesia to explore the interplay between sight, sound, taste and smell in a multi-media show that directly engages the 7.30pm audience in a musical interpretation of a tea ceremony that now forms part of the York Festival of Ideas.

Early Music At The NCEM has two highlights: the Early Music Day on March 21 and the University of York Baroque Day on May 2.

Three concerts in one day make up the Early Music Day, featuring harpsichordist playing JS Bach’s 48 Preludes & Fugues Part 1 at 1pm at the NCEM; recorder ensemble Palisander, with the NCEM’s Minster Minstrels, presenting Double, Double Toil And Trouble at 3.30pm at the Unitarian Chapel, St Saviourgate, and The Brabant Ensemble’s Cloistered Voices at 6pm at the NCEM. Previously known as the European Day of Music, the Early Music Day will be streamed across Europe.

Trumpet player Crispian Steele Perkins: performing at the University of York Baroque Day

The University of York Baroque Day is likewise divided into three concerts, taking the theme of Airs and Graces: A Musical Miscellany. At 12.30pm, trumpeter Crispian Steele Perkins joins Yorkshire Baroque Soloists for theatre music by Purcell and a flamboyant arrangement of Vivaldi’s La Follia; at 3pm, harpsichordist Masumi Yamamoto plays works by Handel, Scarlatti and Aime; the University Baroque Ensemble rounds off the day at 7pm with Scottish airs arranged by James Oswald and Geminiani.

Families At The NCEM brings Leeds company Opera North to York for 11.30am and 2pm performances of Dr Seuss’s Green Ham And Eggs in an introduction to opera for four to seven-year-old children and their families.

Two opera singers and a nine-piece orchestra begin their short performance with an interactive workshop introducing families to the music, instruments and themes within the piece, before they bring to musical life Dr Seuss’s tale of the persistent Sam-I-Am’s mission to persuade a grumpy grouch to try a delicious plate of green eggs and ham.

Sam Sweeney: playing the NCEM in the autumn

Looking ahead to the autumn, concerts in the NCEM diary already are folk trio Faustus (Benji Kirkpatrick, Saul Rose, Paul Sartin) on October 13; Chiaroscuro Quartet’s Mozart String Quartets, November 18; Unearth Repeat, with Sam Sweeney, Jack Rutter, Louis Campbell and Ben Nicholls, November 23, and Lady Maisery: Awake Arise, A Christmas Show For Our Times, with Jimmy Aldridge and Sid Goldsmith, December 18.

In this 20th anniversary year, “this spring we are undertaking an essential refurbishment programme, in part to upgrade some of the facilities that are showing the strain of so much usage,” says Delma, as new loos and a kitchen take shape.

“We’ll be celebrating the anniversary fully in the autumn, especially with a commission that will engage Early music with digital technology and field recordings from Askham Bog. Yorkshire Wildlife Trust will be involved, as will gamba player Liam Byrne this autumn.”

Tickets for the NCEM spring season are on sale on 01904 658338 and at ncem.co.uk.

Here’s a potty idea for Valentine’s Day couples to mess around at Cineworld York

Happy Valentine’s Clay: time to mess around at Cineworld York

LOVERS going potty for each other on Valentine’s Day are invited to bond over romantic pottery classes at Cineworld York, Kathryn Avenue, Huntington, York, tomorrow.

Happy Valentine’s Clay can be enjoyed by dating duos who book for the 6pm ViP screening of Ghost on the 30th anniversary of the 1990 American movie.

This will be the chance for courting couples or pairs of just friends to channel their inner Patrick Swayze or Demi Moore by re-creating Ghost’s iconic pottery scene – soundtracked to The Righteous Brothers’ Unchained Melody, as in the film – in the exclusive ViP lounge before sitting down to a romantic three-course meal. Ticket holders will then watch Ghost in luxury reclining seats.

That moment in Ghost

Ghost’s pottery moment sees the shirtless Swayze’s Sam Wheat sitting behind Moore’s Molly Jensen as she carefully sculpts the wet clay. He reaches out and ruins her vase, so they begin a new one together, his hands interlaced with hers, before abandoning the wheel in favour of a loving embrace.

Those who want to avoid messy pottery-making a deux still can partake in the ViP Valentine’s Day screening experience in the intimate screening room, with access to the ViP Lounge private bar 45 minutes before the show and complimentary dining and unlimited nachos, hot dogs, popcorn and soft drinks, all included in the ticket price.

Ghost guests should arrive an hour before the 6pm screen time for their romantic pottery and dinner date.Tickets cost £32 at cineworld.com.vip.

Fiona Shaw to talk at LGBT History Month show of Tell It To The Bees at City Screen

Anna Paquin and Holly Grainger in Tell It To The Bees

YORK author Fiona Shaw will discuss the screen adaptation of her novel Tell It To The Bees after the 6.30pm screening of Annabel Jankel’s film at City Screen, York, on March 4.

This live question-and-answer session will mark the conclusion of LGBT History Month, when Fiona will be interviewed by Dr Hannah Roche, lecturer in 20th century literature and culture at the University of York.

Under discussion will be Fiona’s 2009 book and its ten-year journey from page to screen, and the audience will have the chance to ask questions.

Tell It To The Bees is set in small-town 1950s’ Britain as a doctor develops a relationship with her young patient’s mother. Lydia Weekes (played by Holliday Grainger) is distraught at the break-up of her marriage, but when her young son, Charlie (Gregor Selkirk), makes friends with the local doctor, Jean Markham (Anna Paquin), her life is turned upside down. 

York author Fiona Shaw: Q and A at City Screen, York, on March 4

Charlie tells his secrets to no-one but the bees, but even he cannot keep his mother’s friendship to himself. In the claustrophobic 1950s, however, the locals do not like things done differently.  As Lydia and the doctor become closer, rumours start to fly, threatening to shatter Charlie’s world. 

Fiona will be selling and signing copies of Tell It To The Bees after the screening, along with copies of her most recent novel, 2018’s Outwalkers. 

In addition, she has volunteered to visit book groups in York and the surrounding area. If interested, please contact Fiona via her website, fiona-shaw.com.

Tickets for March 4’s event are on sale on 0871 902 5726 or at picturehouse.com.

Beatles filmmaker Tony Palmer to give talk at Harrogate Film Festival. Fab Four footage to be shown too

Film-maker Tony Palmer with The Beatles’ John Lennon

TONY Palmer, one of Britain’s greatest-ever music film-makers, will make a rare appearance at an exclusive event at next month’s Harrogate Film Festival.


The BAFTA-winning director, now 77, will reflect on working with a glittering array of Sixties and Seventies musicians in their heyday in Rock Goes To The Movies at the RedHouse Originals Gallery, Cheltenham Mount, Harrogate, on March 12.

Under discussion at 7pm will be The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, Leonard Cohen, Rory Gallagher, Cream, Frank Zappa, The Who, Donovan and many more, complemented by a special screening of rarely-seen footage of The Beatles, shot at the height of the 1960s by the influential and ground-breaking Palmer.


The festival event will be hosted by stalwart Harrogate Advertiser journalist Graham Chalmers, promoter of Charm events in Harrogate, in conjunction with Harrogate Film Society.

The sleeve artwork for All You Need Is Love, Tony Palmer’s series on The Story Of Popular Music


The London-born film-maker and cultural critic has more than 100 films to his name, ranging from early works with The Beatles, Cream, Jimi Hendrix, Rory Gallagher (Irish Tour ’74) and Frank Zappa (200 Motels), to his classical profiles of Maria Callas, Margot Fonteyn, John Osborne, Igor Stravinsky, Richard Wagner, Benjamin Britten, Ralph Vaughan Williams and more besides.

Palmer, who served an apprenticeship with Ken Russell and Jonathan Miller, made the landmark film All My Loving, the first ever about pop music history, first broadcast in 1968.


He was responsible too for the iconic live film Cream Farewell Concert, shot at the supergroup’s last-ever show at the Royal Albert Hall: a memorable night with Eric Clapton, Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker in 1968.


All You Need Is Love, Palmer’s prime-time, 17-part TV series documenting popular music in the 20th century, was hailed as “the best and most important television survey of popular music ever” when first shown in 1977.

The Beatles: rare screening of Tony Palmer’s film of the Fab Four will be a highlight of the Harrogate Film Festival event on March 12

Among more than 40 international prizes Palmer has won over the past 50 years are 12 gold medals from the New York Film Festival, along with numerous BAFTAs and Emmy Awards.


Rock music aficionado Graham Chalmers will conduct a question-and-answer session with Palmer, and all eyes will be on the rare screening of Palmer’s Beatles film, featuring All You Need Is Love and a script by Fab Four insider Derek Taylor. Clips from Cream Farewell Concert 1968 will be shown too.


Rock Goes To The Movies with Tony Palmer is the latest in an ever-expanding line of contemporary culture events at the independent RedHouse Originals gallery, home to original artwork and limited-edition prints by international artists since 2010.  Pop artist Sir Peter Blake, rock music photographer Gered Mankowitz (of The Rolling Stones and Hendrix fame) and Wirral rock band The Coral have made appearances there.


Tickets are on sale at harrogatefilm.co.uk, on 01423 502116 or in person from Harrogate Theatre. More information on the 2020 Harrogate Film Festival at harrogatefilm.co.uk.

Phoenix rising anew in Joker as you have never seen it before…with an orchestra at York Barbican

Out of step with all around him: Joaquin Phoenix as Arthur Fleck in Joker

JOKER – Live In Concert will bring Todd Phillips’s award-laden film to York Barbican with live orchestral accompaniment of Hildur Guðnadóttir’s score on May 17 at 7.30pm.

Preceded by the world premiere at the Eventim Apollo, London, on April 30, the international tour has further Yorkshire shows at Hull Bonus Arena on May 16 and Sheffield City Hall on June 24.

Central to the emotional journey Joaquin Phoenix’s character Arthur Fleck takes through Phillips’s film is Guðnadóttir’s beautifully haunting, BAFTA and Golden Globe-winning and Academy Award- nominated score.

The fusion of looming industrial soundscapes with raw, emotive string-led melodies – led  by a lone cello – creates a melancholic shroud marked with moments of hope, unfolding gradually to become a fever pitch of disquieting tension. 

Phillips’s music will be brought to life by a full orchestra to build a “vivid, visceral and entirely new Joker viewing experience”.

The London premiere will be conducted by Jeff Atmajian, the conductor and orchestrator of the original soundtrack; Senbla’s Dave Mahoney will take over for the UK tour dates, including York Barbican.

The poster artwork for Joker – Live In Concert

Hildur Guðnadóttir, the first-ever solo female winner of the Golden Globe for Best Original Score, also won a Grammy for her score for HBO’s miniseries Chernobyl. “I’m thrilled to get to see and hear Joker in the cinema with a live orchestra,” she says.

“When we recorded the music, the orchestra brought such depth and detailed attention to the performances that we were all literally holding our breaths during most of the recording sessions. It was a beautiful trip. I’m so happy to get to go there again and for an audience to experience that too.” 

Director Todd Phillips says: “I speak for the entire Joker team when I say how thrilled we are to be working with Senbla and Ollie Rosenblatt on JokerLive In Concert. I think it’s a wonderful way for audiences to experience Hildur Guðnadóttir‘s haunting and immersive score, while bearing witness to Joaquin Phoenix’s descent into madness as Arthur.”

Joker already has won the Golden Globe, BAFTA and Critics’ Choice awards for Best Actor and Best Original Score and is nominated for 11 Academy Awards, more than any other film. Those nominations for the Oscars awards ceremony include Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor and Best Original Music/Score.

Tickets for Joker – Live In Concert at York Barbican go on sale at Friday at 10am on 0203 356 5441, at yorkbarbican.co.uk or in person from the Barbican box office; Hull, 0844 858 5025 or bonusarenahull.com; Sheffield, 0114 278 9789 or sheffieldcityhall.co.uk.

Pianist Kieran White to “break the silents” at Helmsley Arts Centre screening of Buster Keaton’s Steamboat Bill, Jr

Buster Keaton, right, in Steamboat Bill, Jr

YORK composer, pianist, busker, tutor and Buster Keaton aficionado Kieran White will be Breaking The Silents at Helmsley Arts Centre on February 1.

Accompanied by White’s expressive, playful, gag-driven piano score, the Stoneface silent classic Steamboat Bill, Jr, will be shown at 7.30pm “as it was originally intended to be seen in an authentic re-creation of the early cinema experience in the picture houses of the 1920s”.

Let Kieran make his case for why someone would want to see a black-and white, silent 1928 Buster Keaton film in 2020, the age of endless reheated Disney classics and myriad Marvel movies.

“We live in an instant world. A world governed by consumerism and technology. What we want, we can get just by clicking a mouse. We have forgotten how to slow down. How to breathe,” he says.

“But Buster takes us back to a time when time itself was a different thing entirely. A time when moments were savoured, rather than squandered.”

York pianist Kieran White

From past experience of his Breaking The Silents shows, White anticipates a largely middle-aged and older audience, but he believes Keaton’s comedic elan should appeal to “anyone with a love of history, a nostalgia for days of yore and an unfettered imagination”.

“Breaking The Silents offers a wonderful evening for all the family,” he says. “A lot of belly laughs. An appreciation of Buster’s incredible athleticism and craftmanship but, most of all, a reawakening of that state of wonderment that children have but never know they have.”

The relentless pace of Keaton’s comedy on screen leaves no gap, no rest, no breath, in White’s score, but still he finds room for quickfire references to the Steptoe And Son theme music, Porridge and The Barber Of Seville.

“The joy of Steamboat Bill, Jr is the raw energy,” says Kieran. “You know that if the stunts went wrong then would be no take two.”

White’s piano has accompanied screenings of Keaton’s 1927 film The General at locations as diverse as Helmsley Arts Centre, the Yorkshire Museum of Farming at Murton Park and City Screen, Fairfax House and the Joseph Rowntree Theatre in York.

Last September, he presented a Breaking The Silents double bill of The General in the afternoon and Steamboat Bill, Jr in the evening at the JoRo. White’s labours of love had necessitated 11 days of writing for The General, a little longer for Steamboat Bill, Jr, drawing on his love of both Keaton’s comic craft and the piano.

Buster Keaton in Steamboat Bill, Jr’s never-to-be-forgotten stunt scene

“I was very inspired by my grandfather,” he says, explaining why piano was his instrument of choice. “He was a superb pianist and made the most complex music sound effortless.

“Ever since a very early age, I’ve been fascinated by puzzles too, particularly chess. Watching Pop play was like sitting inside a gigantic engine, seeing gears mesh, listening to the sound of tiny hammers. Music chose me!”

Where next might Breaking The Silents venture? “I think what I do is unique. Ultimately, I’d love to perform all over the world,” says Kieran.

In the meantime, here is a recommendation from York filmmaker Mark Herman, director of Brassed Off and Little Voice, to head to Helmsley Arts Centre on February 1 for the Keaton and White double act.

“Kieran White’s score and his live accompaniment raises an already almost perfect film to fresh heights,” he said after seeing The General. “It’s a shame that Buster Keaton never knew that his flawless performance could actually be enhanced.”

The next film to receive the White piano touch will be Alfred Hitchcock’s The Lodger. “It’s another silent but not laugh dependent!” says Kieran. Watch this space for updates on its progress to a screen near you.

Tickets cost £12, under 18s £6, on 01439 771700 or at helmsleyarts.co.uk.

This is why Castle car park in York will be closed on Saturday…

The poster image for Eye Project, the short film for the Castle Gateway project, being shown on Clifford’s Tower, York, on Saturday

EYE Project, a new short film made by four York artists, will be shown in a free outdoor screening on Clifford’s Tower, Tower Street, York, on Saturday evening.

Created as part of the Castle Gateway consultation project, the film recalls the history of the Castle Gateway, where the River Ouse and River Foss meet, while also celebrating its future possibilities. 

Emanating from the site of the former York Castle, the area covers the length of Piccadilly, the Coppergate shopping centre, Clifford’s Tower and the Eye of Yorkshire and runs through to St George’s Field and the Foss Basin.

Artists Rich Corrigan, Jade Blood, Julia Davis Nosko and Mat Lazenby worked with hundreds of young York people and InkBlot Films to “explore the ways we can shape and influence the future of Castle Gateway through a major development of the site”. 

Overseen by Kaizen Arts Agency and English Heritage, Eye Projectwill be shown from the Castle car park between 5.30pm and 8.30pm on Saturday as part of this weekend’s York Residents Festival.

The public will have an opportunity to have a say about the area’s future during the screening by using #eyeprojectyork. 

Andrea Selley, historic properties director at English Heritage, says: “Any consultation process is interesting but this one has been particularly so: listening to the views that young people have about that the Castle Gateway space and seeing the passion and creativity of their ideas has been fascinating and insightful.

“Clifford’s Tower, centred so prominently in the city centre, is an apt place to project such a creative community-led project and we’re pleased that the tower has been part of this.” 

The poster for Conflux, one of three Castle Gateway project commissions

Rebecca Carr, Kaizen Arts Agency’s artistic director, says: “We aim to bring York residents into this conversation who wouldn’t usually engage in a traditional consultation. This project is presenting different ways to share ideas; it creates another way to explore the place, while at the same time activating the site, and beginning to shape it into the place we might want it to be.

“People sometimes feel as if their voice isn’t heard, or their opinion is not valued, so we’re really excited to be part of a team that aims to change that.”

Eye Projectis the third in a trio of art commissions to be presented as part of City of York Council’s consultation on Castle Gateway, using art to reference the past while looking to the future of the iconic city-centre site. 

Another of the commissions, Conflux, an hour-long audio walk collaboration between Hannah Davies’s Common Ground Theatre and Hannah Bruce & Company, can be downloaded and experienced until December 2020, with more details at cgtheatre.co.uk/portfolio/conflux/.

Councillor Darryl Smalley, City of York Council’s executive member for culture, leisure and communities,says: “Throughout the My Castle Gateway project, we’ve looked to innovate and bring fresh ideas to capture the views of residents, businesses and visitors about how the area can be regenerated for the next generation. 

“It’s fitting that the car park will be closed for the day [Saturday, January 25] to showcase these ideas from York’s young people, along with local artists, because one of the key features of the masterplan is to relocate Castle car park to St George’s Field with a new purpose-built multi-storey car park. 

“I would urge people to come along and see the short film to discover the heritage behind the Castle Gateway site and the ambitious opportunities that lie ahead for the area.” 

The project is funded through Leeds City Region Business Rates Pool, a scheme that allows local authorities to retain growth in business rates for local investment. Public funding comes from the National Lottery through Arts Council England, with further support from City of York Council, York Mediale and the University of York music department.

Please note: Castle car park will be closed on January 25 for the Eye Project event.

Iconic Hyde Park Picture House redevelopment work to start soon. On The Road screenings launched

Architects Page Park’s redevelopment design for the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds

THE Hyde Park Picture House, Britain’s last remaining gas-lit cinema, is to close its doors next month for a major redevelopment of the Grade II listed cinema in Brudenell Road, Leeds.

Work will begin at the end of February after a £2.3 million National Lottery Heritage Fund grant was secured for the Picture House Project, enabling the iconic building to undergo essential repair and restoration work, alongside the creation of new accessible facilities and a second screen.

From mid-February, the cinema will go On The Road for a film programme that will run throughout 2020, presenting screenings of new independent films, documentaries, cult classics and family favourites, working in tandem with such Leeds venues as Leeds University Union, Heart in Headingley, The Brunswick and the Brudenell Social Club.

On Tuesday this week, Hyde Park’s head of cinema, Wendy Cook, and Mark Johnston, of project architects Page Park, delivered an update to partners and stakeholders, detailing the ways in which the cinema’s unique heritage features will be repaired, most significantly the  nine gas lights.

Architects Page Park’s design for the new second screen in the Hyde Park Picture House basement

Wendy Cook said: “Hyde Park Picture House’s story has been over 100 years in the making, shaped by hundreds of thousands of film lovers. Having the opportunity to safeguard the cinema for another 100 years is both a privilege and a pleasure.”  

At Tuesday’s event, Francis Lee, the BAFTA-nominated writer and director of the 2017 Yorkshire film God’s Own Country, was confirmed as the Hyde Park’s inaugural patron.

Lee, who grew up on his family’s farm at Soyland, Calderdale, is an avid supporter of the Leeds cinema. His new film, Ammonite, starring Kate Winslet and Saoirse Ronan, is set for release later this year.

“I’m delighted to be the patron of Hyde Park Picture House,” he said. “It’s a huge honour. The Picture House team have been very supportive of me from the beginning of my career as a film maker; our association beginning in 2012 when they screened my very first short film.

How the Hyde Park Picture House entrance foyer will look after the Page Park redevelopment

“Hyde Park Picture House is a vital part of the cultural identity of not just Leeds, but the surrounding area too, offering an incredible mix of cinema, community involvement and support to local film makers. I’m very excited to see how the Picture House continues to evolve and grow.” 

Meanwhile, sponsors Kirkstall Brewery will brew an exclusive beer with the cinema this spring as part of the Hyde Park’s community fundraising campaign, with 20 per cent from all sales going towards the project.

Under the Picture House Project, the 1914 cinema will undergo essential conservation work to the façade and existing auditorium, alongside the creation of new facilities, including a larger foyer space and the aforementioned second screen, to be located in the basement.

The project will allow the cinema’s rich history to be explored and celebrated through archival screenings, heritage tours and educational workshops, helping to tell the story of film making and film watching in the region.

Hyde Park Picture Picture House at night in architects Page Park’s redevelopment designs

In addition to the National Lottery Heritage Fund grant, the project has received “significant backing” from Leeds City Council and the Garfield Weston Foundation, alongside funding support from Film Hub North, Leeds Inspired, the Pilgrim Trust, the Gwyneth Forrester Trust, the Co-op Community Fund and Friends of the Hyde Picture House.

The project continues to welcome match-funding contributions and will embark on a crowd-funding campaign when the redevelopment work begins. Individuals or businesses interested in sponsorship opportunities should contact Wendy Cook at wendy@hydeparkpictutrehouse.co.uk. 

Councillor Judith Blake, leader of Leeds City Council, said: “The Picture House is a rare cultural gem in our city and Leeds City Council is delighted to play a vital part in securing its future. 

“With work on the Picture House Project set to coincide with Channel 4’s move to Leeds and the opening of Screen Yorkshire’s new film office, it has never been a more exciting time for film and television in our city.

How the ground-floor extension will look at the Hyde Park Picture House

“Collectively, this brings us another step closer to making Leeds a truly innovative city, one that uses culture to shine a light on what is possible.”

Paul Scholey, chairman of the Leeds Grand Theatre and Opera House board, said: “As custodians of three of Leeds’s most historic cultural venues [Leeds Grand Theatre, Leeds City Varieties Music Hall and the Hyde Park Picture House], we’re very proud of the important role Hyde Park Picture House plays in making our city so special.

“Finding a way to preserve historic buildings, which is both true to the story of the building and of value to the community who enjoy it, is a challenge. But with the support of the many fantastic partners we’ve had on this project, we feel more confident than ever that we have found that way forward, and as a result, the future of this wonderful gas-lit cinema is secured at last.” 

The Hyde Park cinema will remain open as normal until the end of February with a programme of the latest independent releases, such asJojo Rabbit, 1917, Waves, The Lighthouse and Parasite.

The entrance to the Hyde Park Picture House in Leeds, built in 1914

Did you know?

OPENED in 1914, the Grade II listed Hyde Park Picture House, in Leeds, is one of Britain’s oldest cinemas.

Beginning its life shortly before the outbreak of the First World War, it gained popularity by screening patriotic dramas and newsreels to boost morale during the action.

The Picture House survived the advent of “talkies” in the 1920s and continues to screen independent, art house and classic films from around the world, as well as special live events with filmmakers, artists and academics.

The auditorium seating, from the stage, at the Hyde Park Picture House, Leeds

Did you know too?

The 12-month On The Road programme of pop-up screenings across Leeds from mid-February will have six strands, each linked with a specific venue:

New Indies at Leeds University Union (luu.org.uk);

Hyde & Seek at Heart and other venues (heartcentre.org.uk);

Creatures of the Night at The Brunswick (thebrunswick.co.uk);

Docs & Artists’ Moving Image at 42 New Briggate;

Memory Matinees at Heart. 

The full programme of screenings and events will be available to view from hydeparkpicturehouse.co.uk in the coming days.