It is exciting to see silent film enjoying something of a comeback with steadily growing numbers of new viewers experiencing the medium for the first time. Despite its name, silent film is far from silent as music was always intended to be an important and integral part of the cinematic experience. Wendy’s first interaction work-wise with silent film was at the invitation of the BFI who commissioned her to compose a score and perform it for a recording (all at a few days notice) to accompany the first ever film footage of Alice in Wonderland. This was created by a small British team in 1903 directed by Cecil Hepworth and Percy Stow: Hepworth played the part of the frog footman, his wife acted as both the White Rabbit and Queen, and May Clark, who ran errands and fulfilled some secretarial duties, took the role of Alice. Even the family dog, Blair, who was the star of Rescued by Rover (1905), made an appearance. This surviving footage (roughly 8 minutes) was screened in the Foyer of the National Film Theatre at the South Bank to coincide with the launch of Tim Burton’s new film on the same subject in 2010. The posting of this BFI archival material on Utube created something of a sensation and had exceeded a million hits by Christmas of the same year. When the BFI decided to issue a DVD release of Czech director Jan Svankmajer’s Alice (1988), the recording was used again as an extra and Wendy has performed the score at NFT Southbank and British Library screenings as well as at Festivals and in recitals.
Since her debut with the BFI, Wendy has joined the team of pianists employed by the National Film Theatre at BFI Southbank and in November 2012 made her debut at the Barbican cinema. This resulted in her being engaged to perform at the grand opening the new Barbican cinemas and led to her collaboration with silent film researcher Julie Brown from Royal Holloway, University of London. The latter project involved a commission to create a solo piano score from the original chamber music score composed by Frederick Laurence for the Russian silent film Morozko (1924) directed by Yuri Zhelyabuzhsky. Other notable engagements have included IpArt (Ipswich Art Festival), l’Institut Francais and Welsh National Opera. For more details of Wendy’s work in silent film read on for a list of events.