First look in­side new Mu­sic Hall

£9 mil­lion trans­for­ma­tion re­vealed

The Press and Journal (North-East) - - FRONT PAGE - BY SCOTT BEGBIE

We can to­day re­veal the first look in­side Aberdeen’s Mu­sic Hall af­ter its £9 mil­lion trans­for­ma­tion. Our im­ages show some of the spec­tac­u­lar changes to the Union Street venue ahead of it re­open­ing to­mor­row, when thou­sands of peo­ple will see the re­vamped in­sti­tu­tion for them­selves.

Jane Spiers, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Aberdeen Per­form­ing Arts who has spear­headed the ren­o­va­tion, hopes they will stop in their tracks and say “wow”.

“I think the city is ready for the Mu­sic Hall to re­open,” she said. “There’s an ex­cite­ment build­ing and we are very much look­ing for­ward to wel­com­ing peo­ple back through the doors.”

She added 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 au­di­ences, from the mo­ment you walk in the door there are wow fac­tors,” she said.

“In gen­eral, it’s much more up­lift­ing. It’s brighter and it’s lighter. We’ve re­vealed win­dows where we can, we’ve re­moved solid walls and re­placed them with glass.”

Ms Spiers said the trans­for­ma­tion will be ob­vi­ous even be­fore you en­ter, 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,” she said. “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.”

One of the big re­veals will be the “beau­ti­ful” restora­tion and trans­for­ma­tion of the Mu­sic Hall’s au­di­to­rium.

Ms Spiers said the work had “un­peeled” some of the lay­ers of the con­cert hall in the al­most 200-year-old build­ing, rolling back some of the work of a 1980s re­fur­bish­ment, all while keep­ing its per­fect acous­tic.

“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. We have peeled all of that away and tried to make the walls a back­drop for the beau­ti­ful Strachan mu­rals.”

The hall has been 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.

Ms Spiers 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.

Ms Spiers added: “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 state-of-the-art stair­lift. There will also be more ex­h­bi­tion spa­ces mak­ing the Mu­sic Hall more than just a venue for per­form­ing arts.

Ms Spiers said the changes will make the Mu­sic Hall a com­pelling space for artists to visit, too, help­ing bring big name and pres­ti­gious artists to the city while at­tract­ing more di­verse au­di­ences and a younger gen­er­a­tion com­ing through.

But above all, she wants the Mu­sic Hall to be a place which peo­ple feel is for them and where they want to be.

“What we have cre­ated is some­where peo­ple want to be not just in an evening but all day, whether you are com­ing with a friend for a glass of wine 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 may things they can do in the Mu­sic Hall now. It’s much more than just buy­ing a ticket for a gig.”

“You will see this fan­tas­tic screen that dis­plays art­work”

Light from two of the bright­est stars in Aberdeen’s cul­tural fir­ma­ment has been en­tirely dimmed of late.

The Art Gallery and Mu­sic Hall are among the most cel­e­brated in­sti­tu­tions in the north-east, in­deed in Scot­land.

Re­cent years have found both cov­ered in scaf­fold­ing and boards, part-for­got­ten dur­ing ma­jor works.

So the cast­ing off of the first of th­ese shrouds and the rev­e­la­tion of a fu­ture as bright as the past is a mo­ment for civic cel­e­bra­tion.

A first glimpse in­side the re­ju­ve­nated Mu­sic Hall re­veals the sort of “wow fac­tor” the city is search­ing for to stim­u­late the re­gion’s prospects.

The list of acts queue­ing up to be among the first to take back to the fa­mous stage tells its own story about the pride the city should feel in it.

Work re­mains to be done – and cash raised – be­fore both grande dames of the Gran­ite City are sparkling in tan­dem again.

But th­ese feel very much like the open­ing notes of a very pop­u­lar new sym­phony.

Pho­to­graph by Dar­rell Benns

EYE-CTACHING: The Mu­sic Hall’s au­di­to­rium seen from the stage

Jane Spiers is de­lighted with the changes

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.