Royal Albert Hall announces 150th birthday programme

The Royal Albert Hall has unveiled a programme of ‘birthday’ events running through to 2022 from 29 March 2021, exactly 150 years since the venue opened

Jazz vocalist Gregory Porter will appear during the Royal Albert Hall's 150th birthday celebrations. Photo © Lauren Butcher (Bolton & Quinn)

The Royal Albert Hall has unveiled a programme of ‘birthday’ events running through to 2022 from 29 March 2021, exactly 150 years since the venue opened.

Craig Hassall, the venue’s chief executive, announced a bold programme of events, including new commissions, headline musical events and historic anniversary events. The hoardings will also finally come down after four years of restoration work on the building’s façade.

The pandemic lockdown was the first time the hall had closed to the public for almost 80 years and the intention is to celebrate its anniversary in a way that exemplifies Prince Albert’s founding vision of a venue that would democratise the arts and sciences.

The opening ‘birthday’ concert is the result of a year-long collaboration between composer David Arnold and a team of musicians, hundreds of schoolchildren, community members and the Chelsea Pensioners. Circle of Sound is a 10-movement multi-media work that will be presented by a full orchestra, singers from the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and numerous guest stars.

Other events in the programme include Nitin Sawhney’s ‘Journeys – 150 Years of Immigration’, a week-long festival including a newly commissioned oratorio by Sawhney. Nile Rodgers is composing a pop anthem for the anniversary and concerts are booked with Patti Smith, Gregory Porter, Tinie, Brian Wilson, as well as orchestral concerts and major community events.

Hassall commented, ‘Despite the devastating impact of the pandemic, which has closed our treasured building to the public for the first time since the Second World War, we are determined to host of a full celebration of our 150th anniversary.’

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