Mu­sic Hall to re­open doors af­ter two years

Evening Express (City Final) - - Front Page - BY SCOTT BEGBIE

THE Mu­sic Hall opens its doors to­day af­ter a £9 mil­lion trans­for­ma­tion – and vis­i­tors will stop in their tracks and say “Wow!” when they step in­side. That’s the hope of Jane Spiers, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Aberdeen Per­form­ing Arts, as the much-loved Union Street venue bursts back into life af­ter be­ing closed for two years to un­dergo some spec­tac­u­lar changes. Jane, who has spear­headed the ren­o­va­tion, said: “I think the city is ready for the Mu­sic Hall to re­open – there’s an ex­cite­ment build­ing. “We’re very much look­ing for­ward to wel­com­ing peo­ple back through the doors. It has been an ab­so­lute priv­i­lege to de­liver the project for the city, and it does look amaz­ing.” With thou­sands ex­pected to flock to to­day’s Step­ping In cel­e­bra­tions, Jane said peo­ple will find a Mu­sic Hall for the next gen­er­a­tion, with new per­for­mance spa­ces, new places to eat and drink, and new learn­ing and com­mu­nity op­por­tu­ni­ties. “What they will find is a com­pletely in­spi­ra­tional space for artists and for au­di­ences, re­ally from the mo­ment you walk in the door there are wow fac­tors,” she said. “In gen­eral, it’s much more up­lift­ing. It’s brighter, it’s lighter, we’ve re­vealed win­dows where we can, we’ve re­moved solid walls and re­placed them with glass.” Jane said the trans­for­ma­tion is ob­vi­ous even be­fore you en­ter the build­ing with the vestibule hous­ing a mas­sive video wall, a dig­i­tal art space show­ing com­mis­sioned works. The first will be a swirling col­lage of mem­o­ries and im­ages from the his­tory of the Mu­sic Hall. “It will be the first thing you see. In fact, even from the street when you pass you will never miss the Mu­sic Hall again, be­cause when you look in you will see this fan­tas­tic screen that dis­plays art­work – so that’s a wow fac­tor,” she said. Jane added one of the big re­veals will be the “beau­ti­ful” restora­tion and trans­for­ma­tion of the Mu­sic Hall’s au­di­to­rium. She said the work had “un­peeled” some lay­ers of the hall, rolling back some of the 1980s re­fur­bish­ment, all while keep­ing its per­fect acous­tics. “I know peo­ple are sen­si­tive about how it looked, but the truth of the mat­ter was that the 1980s re­furb was not a restora­tion. The Mu­sic Hall never looked like that. It didn’t have wall­pa­per and sten­cils and it wasn’t pink and green,” she said. “We have peeled all of that away and tried to make the walls a back­drop for the beau­ti­ful Stra­chan mu­rals. It’s off-white and pale greys and we have re­stored all the cor­nic­ing. There’s fea­ture light­ing on the mu­rals.” The hall has been com­pletely re­floored, the stage up­graded, the or­gan painted, with new, more com­fort­able con­cert hall seat­ing and new fea­ture light­ing. By cre­at­ing a new base­ment level to house fa­cil­i­ties such as toi­lets, the project has cre­ated new spa­ces for per­for­mance. Jane said the ad­di­tions in­clude the Big Sky Stu­dio, which will host events such as Six O’ Clock Ses­sions for mu­sic fans, or writ­ers in con­ver­sa­tion at lunchtime. The Tutti Stu­dio will of­fer classes and par­tic­i­pa­tion for groups of all ages. Jane said: “We have never had a learn­ing space in the Mu­sic Hall be­fore so we will be able to wel­come chil­dren, young peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties to do work.” Also, the Mu­sic Hall’s round room has now been trans­formed to Rondo, a res­tau­rant of­fer­ing pre-con­cert din­ing, while the Coda cafe bar will have light bites and drinks on of­fer all day. Other up­grades in­clude ac­cess for all, with a new ramp and stair­lift. There will be more ex­hi­bi­tion spa­ces mak­ing the Mu­sic Hall more than just a venue for per­form­ing arts. Jane said the changes will make the Mu­sic Hall a com­pelling space for

artists to visit too, help­ing bring big names to the city. But above all, she wants the Mu­sic Hall to be a place peo­ple feel is for them and where they want to be. “What we have cre­ated is some­where peo­ple want to be and hang around, not just in an evening but all day, whether you are com­ing with a friend for a glass of wine or cof­fee in Coda, or go­ing to a show and you turn up early to meet friends,” she said. “I want peo­ple to see and feel there are so many things they can do in the Mu­sic Hall now. It’s much more than just buy­ing a ticket for a gig.”

Pic­tures by Dar­rell Benns

Vis­i­tors were set to flock to the Mu­sic Hall to­day fol­low­ing its £9 mil­lion ren­o­va­tion

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