Hundreds of people turned out this weekend to celebrate the past, present and future of the Music Hall as the venue closed its doors for a multi-million pound redevelopment.
A series of three intimate events marked the end of an era and the beginning of a new one for the iconic building on Union Street.
Some incredible talent was showcased on Thursday evening as Aberdeen Performing Arts’ associate artists took to the stage to perform collaborations with people from the North-east. Aidan O’Rourke and Jason Singh wowed the crowds with a contemporary mix of fiddle playing and beatboxing, while local talent shone through with singers and musicians taking to the stage.
On Friday, local people took to the floor in a cabaret-style performance, to share their tales of the Music Hall, with memories and heartwarming stories ranging from couples meeting there and falling in love to recollections about the building's caretaker, who lived on the first floor. The evening was directed by Douglas Irvine and compered by singer and entertainer Robert Lovie, both sons of the North-east. People also enjoyed musical performances and film and photo displays of the venue through the ages, and a soundscape inspired by the history of the venue was played in the Doric Bar.
Saturday saw the celebrations culminate with a fantastic ceilidh led by the Scottish Ceilidh Allstars, and the world premiere of a specially commissioned piece of music created and performed by APA’s associate artists. The poignantly titled song, Hibernation, gave the Music Hall the send-off it deserves, as the last piece of music to be played there before the curtain comes up on the renovated building in 20 months’ time.
Chief Executive of APA Jane Spiers said: “The Music Hall has a special place in many people’s hearts, and this weekend proved to be a very fitting celebration of a venue that has welcomed thousands of people over its threshold and been a place to enjoy great bands, sidesplitting comedy and mesmerising orchestras.
“We wanted to mark this important milestone in the history of this amazing building, and our Lights Oot events did just that. We were delighted to welcome so many people to enjoy them. There was brilliant, original music, funny and heartfelt stories, inspiring poetry, and we were treated to hearing the magnificent organ being played.
“When the Music Hall opened in 1822 it was the city’s Assembly Rooms, and since then it has been a meeting place for generations of friends and families. There is so much history behind the building’s granite walls and over the course of this weekend we have really celebrated the spirit behind this wonderful concert hall and what makes it important and special in Aberdeen.
“The transformation project will re-invigorate the Music Hall and bring it up to date to meet the expectations of both audiences and artists in the 21st century, and will ensure sure it continues to inspire audiences for years to come.
“Our Stepping Out programme will take events to a variety of locations across the city and beyond, in our own venues and partner venues. We will also be engaging with communities and doing our work in a slightly different way, whilst keeping the profile, ambition and plans of the Music Hall very much alive.”
The Music Hall transformation will see a new performance studio and new creative learning space incorporated. The box office and reception will be brought into the heart of the building to create a warm welcome, and access issues will be resolved by adding a ramped entrance to the main doors from Union Street, as well as improved access to the balcony.
To donate to the Music Hall Transformation, click here.