Major £57m music college finds key to future as it opens doors
RENOWNED cellist Julian Lloyd Webber says the new Birmingham Conservatoire could be the last of its kind built in the UK as the wraps finally came off the £57 million building this week.
The new institute, in Birmingham’s Eastside, replaces the old conservatoire in Adrian Boult Hall which is being demolished as part of the new Paradise regeneration project.
Mr Lloyd Webber takes over as the new principal of the Conservatoire and joined staff on Thursday to officially open the new facility following two years of construction work.
The brick-clad building, in Jennens Road forms part of Birmingham City University (BCU).
It has five public performance spaces, including a 500-seat concert hall, a 150-seat recital hall and a 100seat organ studio.
The new building also has a flexible studio called The Lab and what is claimed to be the first permanent performance space for jazz in any UK conservatoire, the 80-seat Eastside Jazz Club.
It is the first purpose-built music college to be constructed in the UK since 1987 and the only one in the country designed to cater for the demands of the digital age.
Birmingham Conservatoire’s history dates back to 1859 but the new building forms part of the latest phase of BCU’s new city centre campus, which is replacing its old base in Perry Barr. Mr Lloyd Webber said: “The new Birming- ham Conservatoire emerges during a difficult time for arts funding and music education, meaning our role in training the world’s next great musicians and actors is more vital than ever.
“Personally, I don’t think will be another built in the UK.
“Of course, a building is only as effective as the people inside it and my team and I will continue our work to ensure that the future arts industry is not dominated by the wealthy elite.
“Our impressive programme of learning and widening music participation benefits thousands of children, young people and their families from diverse communities across England, and our new home will become the central hub of all of these crucial activities.”
Alongside private rehearsal rooms and dedicated teaching spaces for musicians, the five-storey building has more than 70 teaching practice rooms.
Designed by Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios and constructed by Galliford Try using 400,000 bricks, the main performance venues are comprised of independent “box-in-box” structures and built on dedicated acoustic foundation bearings for optimum noise control.
In addition, double and tripleglazed windows have been used to achieve the exacting acoustic there requirements, supported by timber panelling throughout the building.
Mr Lloyd Webber added: “We are looking forward to welcoming our new and returning students in the next few weeks, as well as launching our public programme, which will formally commence with our opening season next year.
“The inaugural season will begin in March in our brand new concert hall with a Royal Gala concert performed by the Birmingham Conservatoire Symphony Orchestra and conducted by the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra’s music director Mirga Gražinyte-Tyla.”
BCU vice-chancellor Philip Plowden said: “Birmingham Conservatoire has nurtured the talent of many household names, including singer-songwriter Laura Mvula, conductor Mike Seal and actor Nicol Williamson.
“Our fantastic new facility will ensure we can equip future performers with the skills they need to meet the demands of today’s fast-paced creative economy.
“However, this is not just a stateof-the-art home for developing the next generation of talented and versatile performers, it will also enrich and deepen the university experience for all our students, who will be able to make full use of its facilities and enjoy the rich programme of events planned.”
Personally, I don’t think there will be another built in the UK Birmingham Conservatoiure principal Julian Lloyd Webber, right
> Above: The new 80-seat Eastside Jazz Club
> The new Conservatoire in Eastside