Wednesday 5 July 2023

Spanish season: the Horton pays tribute to the Spanish dancer confined in Epsom Asylum in 1919

Felix Garcia sketched by Picasso with Vera Nemtchinova during rehearsals in 1919
Felix Garcia sketched by Picasso with Vera Nemtchinova
during rehearsals of the Ballets Russes in 1919

The Horton in Epsom is an arts centre based in the former chapel of Horton Hospital (Horton Asylum), a huge cluster of psychiatric hospitals, the largest complex of its kind in Europe when it opened in 1901. The hospital closed in 1997 and the site was redeveloped as flats. The chapel survived, just, and opened in 2021 as a cultural and heritage venue.

One of the lesser known people who was confined to Horton Asylum was the Spanish dancer Felix Garcia. Employed by Diaghilev to work on Spanish dance with the company for Massine's ballet, The Three Cornered Hat based on Falla's music, Felix Garcia was confined to Horton Asylum in 1919 and died there in the 1940s. The story of how he came to be there is full of uncertainties, whether he was genuinely disturbed or whether Diaghilev simply wanted to get rid of him (see the Horton Cemetery website).

Now the Horton is having a Spanish season, 18-19 July 2023, paying tribute to Felix Garcia. There is Boccherini in Love, a celebration of the music of Luigi Boccherini with instrumental music and arias, a Flamenco and Spanish dance masterclass, a recital by pianist Jose Vicente Riquelme playing music by Chopin, Liszt, Balakirev, Albeniz, Gimenez and Lecuona, and Spanish Soul with Spanish and Spain-inspired music by Albeniz, Schumann, Rossini, Berlioz, Falla, Turina, Sarasate, and more.

Full details from the Horton website.

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