Rhinegold Photo credit: Southbank Centre

Katy Wright

Deputy Editor, Classical Music

Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room to reopen in April

10:45, 23rd February 2018

The Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room will reopen on 9 April 2018, following over two years’ redesign and refurbishment.

The venues, which first opened their doors in 1967, now offer environmentally-improved facilities. The redesign project, led by architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios, focused on refurbishing the auditoria, foyer (which now has a capacity of 1,000) and artists’ back-of-house facilities. New features include improved access, ventilation and lighting systems, leather upholstery on the seats, and improved production infrastructure.

Their reopening will be marked with a programme of events that both reflects on the past, paying tribute to iconic performances and performers, and looks to the future, with 32 premieres and new commissions.

The first performance in the Queen Elizabeth Hall will come from Southbank Centre associate orchestra Chineke! Orchestra, which gave its debut concert in the venue in 2015.

World premiere works during the reopening period include Tyondai Braxton’s TELEKINESIS, Holly Blakey x Mica Levi’s Cowpuncher, Harrison Birtwistle’s Intrada, Tom Coult’s first string quartet, Daniel Kidane’s Dream Song, Anna Meredith’s orchestration of her debut studio album Varmints, Qasim Naqvi’s The Bad Feelings Rainbow, Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s Action of Inaction, Philip Venables’ The Gender Agenda, and new works from Charlotte Bray and Milica Djordjevic.

The venues will launch Composers’ Collective, a new year-round initiative connecting composers at all stages of their careers with leading composers passing through Southbank Centre via workshops, seminars, networking and more.

Ligeti in Wonderland, curated by artist in residence Pierre-Laurent Aimard, will be the first music festival in the refurbished QEH (11-13 May), and the Concrete Dreams Weekend will celebrate the heritage of QEH and Purcell Room, showcasing music, dance, visual art and literature linked to the site’s 50 year history and featuring artists including Shiva Feshareki and Anna Meredith.

Other performers include Colin Currie, Danielle de Niese, Benjamin Grosvenor, London Contemporary Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Spira mirabilis, and featured composers will include Thomas Adès, Gerald Barry, David Bedford, Unsuk Chin, Bryce Dessner, Jonathan Dove, Brian Ferneyhough, Christian Mason, Steve Reich and Rebecca Saunders.

Gillian Moore, director of music, Southbank Centre, said: ‘The Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room have, since they opened their doors in 1967, been a place where new ideas happen, where artists of all kinds have taken risks and pushed music and the arts forward.  Half a century later, we re-open them after refurbishment and are determined to honour that spirit with new commissions, innovative artists and a fresh look at many of the great artistic events which form the history of these beautiful venues.’


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