Mu­sic Hall open­ing date re­vealed

Evening Express (City Final) - - Front Page - BY CRAIG PA­TON

ABERDEEN’S his­toric Mu­sic Hall will re­open be­fore the end of the year – and the Evening Ex­press will host the first ma­jor con­cert at the venue. Bosses said Travis front­man Fran Healy will lead a com­mu­nity choir in a ren­di­tion of the band’s top-five hit Sing at an event dubbed Step­ping In on Satur­day De­cem­ber 8 to mark the re­launch. On De­cem­ber 9, the Evening Ex­press Carol Con­cert will re­turn to the venue to cel­e­brate its 50th an­niver­sary, with hun­dreds of young­sters tak­ing the stage. Jane Spiers, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Aberdeen Per­form­ing Arts, the char­ity be­hind the £9 mil­lion 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.” Work started on the re­fur­bish­ment of the 200-year-old venue in April 2016 and was orig­i­nally sched­uled to take 20 months. How­ever de­lays will see it re­open around a year later than planned and £2m over its ini­tial £7m bud­get. The project has seen ex­ten­sive ex­ca­va­tions be­low ground to cre­ate a new lower ground floor, free­ing up space for a new per­for­mance stu­dio, cre­ative learn­ing stu­dio, cafe bar, restau­rant and re­lo­cated box of­fice. The works have also in­cluded im­prov­ing ac­cess and the en­trance has been trans­formed with a floor-to-ceil­ing video screen ex­hibit­ing dig­i­tal art. Its au­di­to­rium has been re­stored with new floor­ing, stag­ing, seat­ing and dec­o­ra­tion and other “es­sen­tial re­pair and main­te­nance work”. “It’s been a hugely am­bi­tious and com­plex project and what’s been achieved within the to­tal cost 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,” Jane added. The venue’s re­launch event on De­cem­ber 8 will see doors open to the pub­lic at 9.30am with free en­try all day and a packed pro­gramme of per­for­mances and ac­tiv­i­ties. The next night, fes­tive joy will fill the venue once again with the re­turn of the Evening Ex­press Carol Con­cert. EE edi­tor Craig Walker said: “We are de­lighted to cel­e­brate the 50th an­niver­sary of the Evening Ex­press Carol Con­cert by re­turn­ing to the Mu­sic Hall for the first time since 2015. “It is an honour for us to be the first ma­jor event to take place at the iconic build­ing, and I am sure the night will be the first of many mem­o­rable evenings to take place there. “The Mu­sic Hall has been at the cen­tre of cul­ture in the Gran­ite City for many years, and we look for­ward to cel­e­brat­ing many more.” The for­mal open­ing will take place the fol­low­ing week­end with two ex­clu­sive con­certs – the BBC Scot­tish Sym­phony Orches­tra on De­cem­ber 15 and Texas on De­cem­ber 16. Aberdeen City Coun­cil co-leader Jenny Laing said: “It’s great to see our much-loved cul­tural land­mark re­open its doors in its greatly im­proved form. “The re­vamped Mu­sic Hall will join the re­de­vel­oped Art Gallery and the new £330m TECA com­plex to play an in­te­gral part in sup­port­ing the de­liv­ery of the city’s am­bi­tious Aberdeen 365 event pro­gramme, a year­round pro­gramme of world­class events, fes­ti­vals and per­for­mances which make the city a vi­brant and ex­cit­ing place to visit and ex­pe­ri­ence.” Craig Pike, chair­man of Aberdeen Per­form­ing Arts, added: “We are supremely grate­ful to all 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. “I am also im­mea­sur­ably proud of the team at Aberdeen Per­form­ing Arts.”

Travis front­man Fran Healey will sing with a com­mu­nity choir at the re­launch Am­bas­sadors and sup­port­ers out­side the Mu­sic Hall

The Evening Ex­press Carol Con­cert has been a popular event in the Mu­sic Hall cal­en­dar for decades The new Mu­sic Hall has a floor-to-ceil­ing screen to show dig­i­tal art

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