The Royal Albert Hall unveils 150th anniversary programme

3 December 2020, 13:29 | Updated: 3 December 2020, 13:46

Brian Wilson, Patti Smith and Nile Rodgers are part of The Royal Albert Hall 150 celebrations
Brian Wilson, Patti Smith and Nile Rodgers are part of The Royal Albert Hall 150 celebrations. Picture: Press

The historic venue has announced its plans to mark the milestone from 2021-2022 with a variety of events, initiatives and performances.

Royal Albert Hall has announced its 150th anniversary programme.

The iconic venue - which has played host to everyone from Arctic Monkeys to Luciano Pavarotti - will embark on a series of events beginning on 29 March 2021 – exactly 150 years on from its opening – and running into 2022.

The venue’s chief executive, Craig Hassall, has announced the plans – which include major new commissions, headline shows from music legends and anniversary editions of historic community events – while also revealing the completed restoration of the Hall’s historic façade, the result of four years’ painstaking work.

Headline shows from artists across the musical spectrum will include Patti Smith, Jon Hopkins, Gregory Porter, Tinie, Brian Wilson, Jonas Kaufmann, Bryn Terfel and Alfie Boe.

Nile Rodgers will also compose a pop anthem for the anniversary, using a full orchestra and singers from across the community.

READ MORE: Listen to Arctic Monkeys' Royal Albert Hall gig on Radio X's Home Shows

The Royal Albert Hall announces 150th anniversary plans
The Royal Albert Hall announces 150th anniversary plans. Picture: Matt Crossick/PA Wire

Elsewhere, for International Women’s Day on Monday 8 March 2021, the Hall will host the world-renowned WOW – Women of the World Festival, with an evening of performances presented by Jude Kelly.

Alt-folk act This Is the Kit will perform in the ongoing Albert Sessions series, and run a workshop for local teenagers.

Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall will lead a new mentorship programme for young female artists.

Oscar-winning composer, Michael Giacchino (Up, Rogue One), will create a new piece for the Hall’s famous Henry Willis Organ. It will be premiered at a special concert celebrating the organ, which was the biggest instrument in the world when it was played at the opening ceremony in 1871.

It has since been immortalised on a Frank Zappa live record, heard on the soundtracks to the films Tron and Rollerball, and played by a host of classical and rock legends, including Pink Floyd’s Richard Wright. A special orchestral commission celebrating the anniversary to be performed as part of the BBC Proms season alongside other programming related to the history of the Royal Albert Hall.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, will present a series of celebratory concerts marking both the venue’s milestone and its own 75th anniversary.

The Band of the Royal Marines will perform a new 14-piece chromatic fanfare as part of the Mountbatten Festival of Music, which in 2021 will be a virtual event recorded at the Hall. Competitors in the annual Brass Band Championships – held at the venue since 1945 and immortalised in the film, Brassed Off – will face off with an anniversary-themed piece. And a special edition of the Women’s Ins

Speaking of the announcement, Craig Hassall said: “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 a full celebration of our 150th anniversary.

"Since its opening, this extraordinary venue has borne witness to, and played a central part in, seismic cultural and social change. The interests, manners and social mores of the people may have changed, but this beautiful building and what it represents remains the same a century-and-a-half later: a meeting place, a reflection of contemporary Britain, and a home for exhilarating live performance and events of international significance.

“I want to thank the whole creative industry, our dedicated staff and all of the artists involved for their support in announcing this programme today.”

The Royal Mint will also issue a £5 coin to mark the milestone, while Royal Crown Derby, has produced a commemorative tea set in a design inspired by the Hall’s architecture.

The Hall’s anniversary book is entitled A Celebration in 150 Unforgettable Moments, and is published this month by Ebury with a foreword from Her Majesty The Queen.

Visit www.royalalberthall.com for more information and the full programme.