International superstar Emeli Sande has pledged her support to the multi-million pound redevelopment of Aberdeen’s historic Music Hall.
The singer-songwriter, who hails from Alford in Aberdeenshire, is instantly recognisable from her striking profile emblazoned on the large building wrap surrounding the venue on Union Street.
The wrap and associated hoarding will protect the exterior of the iconic granite building, while contractor Kier, works inside.
Emeli said: “The Music Hall holds so many fond memories for me, from the music festivals in primary school to my first tour. The beautiful atmosphere and stunning acoustics really make this a special place to perform.”
The project is spearheaded by Aberdeen Performing Arts (APA), the charitable trust that runs three of the city’s iconic arts venues, the Music Hall, His Majesty’s Theatre (HMT) and The Lemon Tree.
Thanks to APA’s fundraising efforts, £6.5m has already been raised towards the transformation, including major contributions from Aberdeen City Council, Creative Scotland, Heritage Lottery Fund, Historic Environment Scotland, The Robertson Trust, The Foyle Foundation, Garfield Weston, The Wolfson Foundation and The Hugh Fraser Foundation.
Jane Spiers, APA chief executive, said: “We are so thrilled to have begun the next chapter in the life of the Music Hall. This is a huge campaign that has been years in the making – it has taken many months of planning and fundraising. However, this project is about much more than bricks and mortar. The Music Hall is a national treasure with decades of wonderful history behind it. The range and calibre of artists, musicians and events the hall has hosted over nearly 200 years is truly astonishing and its place at the heart of community and civic life is unassailable.
“You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who has a connection with Aberdeen who doesn’t have a story to tell about the Music Hall.
“We’re delighted that Emeli Sande is lending her support to the transformation and we are proud to be developing a venue which will be international in outlook and also operate at the heart of the ever-growing arts community in the North-east.
“We are very grateful to the people who have come here today to support and celebrate this milestone moment in the transformation and wish us well in the next stage of our journey.”
Plans for the revamped venue include upgrades to the historic auditorium with new seating, flooring and more flexible staging, new performance, rehearsal and education spaces, upgraded artist facilities, a new foyer, box office and café bar and new ramps and lifts to improve access to all areas.
Ms Spiers added: “It really is an ingenious re-imagining of the space. We’re restoring and retaining the Music Hall’s historic fabric and its wonderful acoustic and at the same time we’re adding new features in keeping with the expectations of a 21st century audience.”
Councillor, Jenny Laing leader of Aberdeen City Council, said: “The Music Hall’s redevelopment is a wonderful example of projects taking place in the city centre which will deliver a positive impact.
“The public have been clear that they want a strong city centre events programme which will provide a cultural focus for the city. Major transformational projects, including Aberdeen Art Gallery’s redevelopment and that of the Music Hall, will help secure both their places at the heart of city life for generations to come.”
Creative Scotland has invested a total of £1.5million to the Music Hall Transformation.
Philip Deverell, director of strategy for Creative Scotland, said: “Creative Scotland is thrilled to support the transformation of the iconic Aberdeen Music Hall, one of Scotland’s oldest and most historic concert halls. Aberdeen Music Hall is key to the music infrastructure of Scotland and the North-east. The imaginative and creative design solution with its open and inclusive approach to the use of the space will open up the hall to the street outside, signaling a new era for the historic and much loved venue, and helping to secure its place at the heart of city life for generations.
“The project will ensure that it continues as an important part of Aberdeen and Scotland’s unique cultural heritage and becomes an inspirational space and creative hub for the performing arts in Scotland.”
As work on site gathers pace, APA is delighted to announce recent funding of £150,000 from ASPC and £50,000 from Aberdeen Inspired.
John MacRae, ASPC chairman, said: “ASPC is the leading property marketing service in the North-east and focuses exclusively on this area. As such, we are interested in projects which enhance our lives in this area and the Music Hall redevelopment is a great example of this.
“We are therefore pleased to be supporting this project which will significantly enhance the cultural experiences that all of us in this area can enjoy, whilst at the same time helping to revitalise Union Street once again.”
Adrian Watson, chief executive of Aberdeen Inspired, added: “The Music Hall is a fantastic venue popular with performers around the world and the redevelopment programme which is currently underway is a hugely exciting one.
“Aberdeen Inspired is a huge supporter of the arts and cultural scene in the city centre and we are delighted to lend our support to the Music Hall in this way. This project puts the iconic venue at the heart of the regeneration of Union Street which is already underway as part of Aberdeen City Council’s City Centre Masterplan.”
∙Those looking to support the Music Hall Transformation can click here aberdeen performing arts for information on various ways to donate and get involved with the transformation.
Donors can also make a contribution by making cheques payable to ‘Aberdeen Performing Arts’, posted to: Finance Manager, His Majesty’s Theatre, Rosemount Viaduct, Aberdeen, AB25 1GL, with a note that the donation is for the Music Hall Transformation.