Travis star is ‘Stepping In’ for Aberdeen Music Hall re-opening

Aberdeen Performing Arts officials and the Young Ambassadors are looking forward to the re-opening of Aberdeen's Music Hall.
Aberdeen Performing Arts officials and the Young Ambassadors are looking forward to the re-opening of Aberdeen's Music Hall.
  • Travis star Fran Healy will lead Music Hall community choir on opening day
  • Opening events include concerts by Texas and BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra
  • Carol concert and Phil Cunningham’s Christmas Songbook also mark the re-opening
  • Tickets for re-opening events on sale Friday, October 26, at 9.30am

Travis frontman Fran Healy will lead the celebrations for the re-opening of Aberdeen’s historic and much-loved Music Hall.

The popular North-east venue will re-open its doors to the public on Saturday, December 8, with a joyful day of ‘Stepping In’ community celebrations featuring a special appearance from Fran Healy, who will lead the Music Hall community choir in a performance of the iconic Travis song ‘Sing.’

Aberdeen's historic Music Hall is an iconic and much-loved arts and entertainment venue in the city.

Aberdeen's historic Music Hall is an iconic and much-loved arts and entertainment venue in the city.

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.

The entrance has been transformed with a floor to ceiling video screen displaying digital art.

The entrance has been transformed with a floor to ceiling video screen displaying digital art.

“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 also 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 and decoration. Essential repair and maintenance work has included roofing, window, rewiring, replumbing, replastering and upgrades to heating, ventilation and backstage facilities.

Councillor Jenny Laing, Aberdeen City Council co-leader, 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. 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, December 9, with guided tours of the Music Hall in the morning.

There is a double celebration that evening as hundreds of 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 15, 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.

Then on Sunday, December 16, 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, December 20, 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 of 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.”

Over £700,000 of National Lottery funding helped make the project happen.

The Music Hall will remain open throughout December before the first full season gets underway in January.

Tickets for the four re-opening concerts – the Evening Express Carol Concert (December 9), BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (December 15), Texas (December 16) and Phil Cunningham’s Christmas Songbook (December 20) – as well as guided tour tickets on Sunday, December 9, go on sale at 9.30am on Friday, October 26.

Tickets are available in person at His Majesty’s Theatre or The Lemon Tree, by phone on 01224 641122, and online at Aberdeen Performing Arts

Entry to the Stepping In events on Saturday, December 8, is free and tickets are not required.