Royal Academy of Music unveils new facilities9:00, 12th March 2018
The Royal Academy of Music has unveiled new and transformed facilities at its Marylebone Road home.
Funded almost entirely by a philanthropic campaign, the facilities include include the 309-seat Susie Sainsbury Theatre and the new 100-seat rooftop Recital Hall, as well as 14 refurbished practice and dressing rooms, five new percussion studios (two opening soon, the others by Easter), a large refurbished jazz room and a new control suite for the Academy’s audio-visual recordings department.
Designed by Ian Ritchie Architects, the redevelopment has transformed the original theatre, which stood from 1976 to 2015, and has added a new rooftop space, enhancing the existing performance, rehearsal and recording facilities. The Theatre and Recital Hall are both fully accessible and wheelchair friendly, with a new lift installed for ease of access, and both have been acoustically engineered by Arup.
The Susie Sainsbury Theatre, built on the site of the original Sir Jack Lyons Theatre, has a reshaped auditorium and a new balcony, improving sightlines and increasing capacity by 40%. As well as a new fly tower and side wings, the design offers stage and recording facilities in an adaptable theatre suitable for all forms of opera and musical theatre productions.
The Theatre is named for Lady Sainsbury of Turville CBE, a prominent supporter of the Academy and the deputy chair of its governing body, following charitable grants from the family’s Backstage Trust and Gatsby Charitable Foundation.
The Recital Hall is billed as ‘one of the best quality small recording studios in London’. Built on top of the Theatre, it features an oculus in the roof, flooding the room with natural light. The 100-plus seats are entirely flexible and the space can be adapted to accommodate recording sessions, rehearsals, masterclasses and performances.
The two venues are acoustically separated but are connected by renovated public spaces including a new Theatre atrium and a social space outside the Recital Hall, featuring the Edwardian rear brick wall of the main Academy building.
Following two years of touring external venues, Royal Academy Opera (RAO) and the Royal Academy Musical Theatre Company will return to RAM this spring. RAO opens the Theatre on 12 March with Jonathan Dove’s Flight, and details of the Academy Musical Theatre Company’s inaugural productions at the new Theatre will be released later this year.
Jonathan Freeman-Attwood CBE, principal of RAM, said that the new facilities would enable students ‘to rehearse, perform and record music at the highest level’, and described their opening as ‘an important milestone in the Academy’s history’.