TRAVIS FRONTMAN FRAN HEALY TO LEAD MUSIC HALL ‘STEPPING IN’ CELEBRATIONS
Aberdeen’s historic and much-loved Music Hall will re-open its doors to the public on December 8 with a joyful day of Stepping In community celebrations featuring a special appearance from Travis frontman Fran Healy leading the Music Hall community choir in a performance of the iconic song ‘Sing.’
The doors will be opened to the public at 9.30am with free entry all day and a packed programme of performances and activities from local communities across the North-east who have been participating in the award winning ‘Stepping Out’ programme during closure.
Jane Spiers, Chief Executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts, the charity behind the Music Hall transformation said :
“We’re so excited at the prospect of stepping back into the hall and welcoming everyone through the doors. It’s been a labour of love and a complete privilege to play a part in the history of such a national treasure. ‘Stepping In’ is a celebration of all that makes the Music Hall great – and most of all it’s a celebration of people and communities in the North-east.
“It’s been a hugely ambitious and complex project and what’s been achieved within total costs of £9m is incredible, thanks to a great team of committed professionals who believed in the project and have always gone the extra mile – our architects BDP, contractor Kier, project management Axiom and the amazing Aberdeen Performing Arts Team.”
The ambitious project has seen the 200 year-old venue undergo extensive excavations below ground to create a new lower ground floor, freeing up space for a new performance studio, new creative learning studio, new café bar, restaurant and re-located box office.
The works have also included significant excavations and interventions to improve access from street to seat including new lifts and ramps to allow everyone, including people with restricted mobility, to access all levels from basement to balcony for the first time in the building’s history. The entrance to the Music Hall has been transformed with a floor to ceiling video screen exhibiting digital art.
The Music Hall auditorium has been lovingly restored with new flooring, staging, seating, decoration. Essential repair and maintenance work has included roofing, window, rewiring, replumbing, replastering and upgrades to heating, ventilation and backstage facilities.
Councillor Jenny Laing, Council Co Leader, Aberdeen City Council said:
“We were delighted to have invested £3 million in the redevelopment of the Music Hall as part of our £1 billion transformation of the city’s infrastructure and it’s great to see our much-loved cultural landmark re-open its doors in its greatly improved form.
“The revamped Music Hall will join the redeveloped Art Gallery and the new £330m TECA complex in playing an integral part supporting the delivery of the city’s ambitious Aberdeen 365 event programme, a year round programme of world class events, festivals and performances which make the city a vibrant and exciting place to visit and experience.”
Celebrations continue on Sunday 9 December with guided tours of the Music Hall in the morning. There is a double celebration that evening as hundreds of local youngsters take to the stage in the 50th anniversary Evening Express Carol Concert.
The formal opening will take place the following weekend with two exclusive concerts in the magnificent surroundings of the newly transformed Music Hall. On Saturday, December 15th, the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra is joined by stellar classical pianist Alice Sara Ott, and internationally renowned conductor Alpesh Chauhan. The programme includes Prokofiev’s Lieutenant Kije Suite, Greig’s beloved Piano Concerto, and Sibelius’ triumphant second symphony. And then on Sunday, December 16th, iconic Scottish band Texas will take to the stage led by charismatic singer Sharleen Spiteri performing some of their best-loved hits.
The re-opening performances conclude on Thursday 20 December with the much-loved festive celebration from Phil Cunningham’s Christmas Songbook featuring the legendary Scottish musician joined by singers Karen Matheson and Eddi Reader, and instrumentalists John McCusker, Kris Drever, Ian Carr, Kevin Macguire and a special guest brass band.
Iain Munro, Acting Chief Executive, Creative Scotland, commented:
“Aberdeen Music Hall is a vital and much loved part of Scotland’s cultural infrastructure and Creative Scotland is delighted to have supported the refurbishment through National Lottery funding. Our revenue funding to Aberdeen Performing Arts will also help invigorate the new space with more diverse programming, youth activities and music education, and outreach hubs will attract fresh audiences and improve overall music provision for local artists and audiences.
“The revitalisation of the Music Hall comes at a time of step change in ambition for the cultural offer in the city. Huge congratulations go to Jane Spiers, the APA Board, staff, City Council and all those involved for their energy, ambition and determination to ensure that the Music
Hall continues to play a key role in placing the community and culture at the heart of the city centre regeneration.”
National Lottery funding of over £700,000 helped make the project happen. Lucy Casot, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said: “Aberdeen Music Hall has delighted, educated and entertained audiences for decades. Its fascinating history is tightly interwoven with the social history and cultural traditions of Aberdeen.
“Thanks to players of The National Lottery, this well-loved treasure has been transformed. Its historic beauty shines through while providing a contemporary, cultural experience for visitors of all ages. I am delighted that it will again take its cultural place in the community bringing joy to all those who visit it.”
Craig Pike, Chair of Aberdeen Performing Arts said: “We are supremely grateful to all of our business partners, public sector partners and the many, many individuals who raised funds on our behalf, without whom we would never have made it to this point. Without your generosity there would be no Music Hall transformation and no Stepping Out projects. I am also immeasurably proud of the commitment, dedication and hard work of the team at Aberdeen Performing Arts.”
The Music Hall will remain open throughout December before the first full season gets underway in January 2019.
Tickets for the four re-opening concerts go on sale at 9.30am on Friday 26 October, and are available in person at His Majesty’s Theatre or The Lemon Tree, by phone on 01224 641122, and online at www.aberdeenperformingarts.com. They are the Evening Express Carol Concert on Sunday 9 December, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on Saturday 15 December, Texas on Sunday 16 December, Phil Cunningham’s Christmas Songbook on Thursday 20 December and the guided tours on Sunday 9 December at 10am, 11am and 12pm,
Entry to the Stepping In events on Saturday, December 8 is free and tickets are not required.