The refurbished Queen Elizabeth Hall
Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room reopen8:00, 1st April 2018
Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall (QEH) and Purcell Room have reopened, following two years of refurbishment.
Southbank Centre Associate Orchestra Chineke! performed at the reopening concert in the QEH (9 April). The performance featured the world premiere of Daniel Kidane’s Dream Song, which sets the words of Martin Luther King’s ‘I Have A Dream’ speech to music, marking the 50th anniversary year of King’s assassination.
The Southbank Centre venues have been given a much-needed makeover by architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, Max Fordham, Arup and BAM Construction.
‘We’re excited to see the buildings emerge in all their Brutalist glory,’ Gillian Moore, Southbank Centre’s director of music told Classical Music. ‘I feel like I have all of my limbs back now. We’ve had great support from St John’s Smith Square [the venue accommodated some events during the renovation period] but it’s lovely to be back in our own home.’
Among the changes are improvements to the production infrastructure, including the replacement of the QEH’s two fixed lighting bridges – added in the 1980s – with a new flown bridge that can be retracted to disappear into the ceiling when not required. A new timber lining to the QEH stage will improve the acoustics for performers on stage.
The previously dark QEH foyer is much lighter, with an expanded space for performances and milling about. ‘It will be much quicker to get drinks in the interval,’ says Moore, ‘and there will be a space for performances in the foyer – we’ll be able to use the space more creatively. There will still be the same mix of world-class classical music, but with greater versatility. It’s a great place to hear a piano recital, string quartet and a chamber orchestra.’
The reopening period reaffirms Southbank Centre’s commitment to new music with 32 premieres in the first two months. The reopening week alone features eight premieres with concerts across the site each night of the week from each of Southbank Centre’s four Resident Orchestras (Philharmonia, London Philharmonic, London Sinfonietta and OAE).