The Stoller Hall, built within Chetham’s School of Music, opens with its first public concert on Friday 21 April 2017 and a special gala on Sunday 23 April 2017, as part of a celebratory opening weekend. The £8.7m concert hall, situated in the centre of Manchester, boasts a 482-seat acoustically immaculate auditorium perfect for a variety of ensembles and genres: from chamber music, choirs and full-scale orchestras, to contemporary and jazz music, comedy and spoken word.
The opening weekend of concerts features outstanding Chetham’s alumni, students and friends of the School, showcasing the diverse programming planned for the space. The first audience to enjoy The Stoller Hall will be guests of BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, broadcast live from the venue on Friday 21 April from 4:30pm, with a line-up of guests and performers drawn from events across the Opening Weekend. Alumnus and pianist Gwilym Simcock leads the inaugural concert in the Hall alongside violinist Thomas Gould and guitarist Mike Walker in a programme showcasing the trio’s unique fusion of jazz, classical and folk sounds. Chamber music continues the following day, featuring the Navarra String Quartet performing Shostakovich's Quartet No. 5, Schubert's Quartetsatz and Beethoven's String Quartet No.1 in F major.
The weekend culminates with the official launch of The Stoller Hall in the form of an Opening Celebration Concert, attended by benefactor Sir Norman Stoller. Conductor Sir Mark Elder and Director of Music at Chetham's School of Music, Stephen Threlfall direct a host of superb musicians in a specially-formed orchestra of alumni, staff and friends in a performance beginning with Walton’s Henry V; Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody led by mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately; and Ginastera’s Variaciones Concertantes. Alumnus and internationally renowned pianist Paul Lewis completes the line-up, playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.2.
The whole Chetham’s site is involved in the celebrations with a complimentary schedule of events in the Carole Nash Hall and Oglesby Atrium including Orchestral Life, by photographer Tom Bangbala throughout the weekend; Debussy sonatas performed by members of staff and interpreted by dancers from Hammond School and Victoria College, Melbourne, as well as free foyer music from cellist and alumna Gabriella Swallow and her Urban Family.
Alun Jones, Headmaster of Chetham’s School of Music said: ‘I’ve had the pleasure of joining Chetham’s at one of the most exciting times in its history, as the opening of The Stoller Hall represents a new chapter for our entire School community. Finally, our students will have a concert hall whose acoustics live up to their world renowned musical talents; whilst the professional performance programme will bring new audiences to share in the cultural life that thrives here in the heart of Manchester.’
Richard Hartwell, General Manager of The Stoller Hall said: ‘This new hall is not just devastatingly beautiful but more importantly acoustically unrivalled, quite possibly among concert halls across the world. What’s more its acoustics are adjustable, which will allow for a huge range of performance activity, symbiotically benefiting visiting performers, audiences and the school with a 21st century concert experience.’
Stephen Threlfall, Director of Music at Chetham’s and Artistic Director of the Opening Weekend said: ‘This superb Hall represents an important milestone in the progressive history of Chetham’s being not only its first ever concert hall but also an outstanding gift to the cultural life of the region. We’re thrilled that our current and past students and our many friends across the musical world will all feature in the christening of The Stoller Hall.’
The Stoller Hall has been designed by Stephenson Studio architects with Arup Acoustics, and built by Sir Robert McAlpine. £7.5m of its overall cost has been generously donated by Sir Norman Stoller through the Stoller Charitable Trust, with additional support from the Garfield Weston Foundation. Members of the public are invited to support the remainder of the project costs by donating a ‘Round of Applause’ or naming a seat through the Encore campaign. Honorary seats will be dedicated to Sir Mark Elder and the late Michael Kennedy in recognition of their vital role in championing classical music in Manchester.
As well as the huge benefits the students and staff will derive from the new venue, the public will also enjoy a core programme of performances, combining leading artists and ensembles and collaborations with musical and cultural promoters across the country. A broad range of concerts and conference events, rehearsals and recordings will showcase the versatility of the space and expand and celebrate Manchester’s already vibrant performing arts scene.
The inaugural season at The Stoller Hall features a varied programme, including acclaimed film composer and accompanist Neil Brand’s two day event for students, adults and families looking at film music Friday 12 – Saturday 13 May. Jazz pianist Tord Gustavsen is joined by Simin Tander (vocals) and Jarle Vespestad (drums) on Friday 26 May to explore the tradition or Norwegian church music in an untraditional manner. The following day writer and self-taught musician Chris Wood weaves his take on the unofficial history of English-speakers with his own contemporary parables.
Violinist Chloë Hanslip and the Northern Chamber Orchestra present two composers’ interpretations of the changing seasons on Saturday 10 June: Philip Glass’ Violin Concerto No.2 ‘The American Four Seasons’ and Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons, as part of the Mind Music Campaign. On Friday 23 June, composer, conductor and vocalist Ken Burton brings his unique brand of gospel to The Stoller Hall, inviting audiences to end the working week with a celebration of music and faith.
Prior to their performance on Tuesday 4 July, the public are invited to join Artistic Director of the Gabrieli Consort, Paul McCreesh in a massed rehearsal of choruses from Haydn’s Creation on Sunday 2 July, with an informal performance at the end of the session. On Thursday 6 July, Stephen Threlfall conducts the Chetham’s Concert Orchestra in a celebration of Richard Rodgers. In October, the Kuss Quartet bring Chetham’s cycle of the complete Shostakovich String Quartets to a close, with a performance of Nos. 9 & 11, followed by Beethoven’s Op. 18 No.11 in D minor, on Thursday 12 October.
The annual Chetham’s International Piano Summer School & Festival for Pianists will take place for the first time in The Stoller Hall. 2017 introduces a ‘festival with a festival’ with four evenings of thrilling concerti from Leon McCawley, Noriko Ogawa, Peter Frankl and Leslie Howard from Saturday 19-Sunday 20 August. A week later the Manchester International Concerto Competition for Young Pianists returns with Manchester Camerata as the orchestra for two evenings of concerto works performed by its six finalists.
The Stoller Hall’s home within the UK’s largest specialist music school will be reflected in an inspiring programme of engagement activity, with performances, learning and participatory opportunities for families, schools and communities of all ages. It will provide a new home for key Chetham’s ensembles and for professional artists, offering a more intimate acoustic and embracing audience experience to match the quality of performers emerging from the city and inspiring audiences to discover and enjoy live performances.