LONDON’S ICONIC MUSIC VENUES REOPEN FOLLOWING TWO-YEAR REFURBISHMENT, WITH DYNAMIC NEW PROGRAMME
Southbank Centre’s iconic Brutalist venues, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, will reopen on Monday 9 April 2018, following over two years’ extensive redesign and refurbishment.
They open with a programme of events that pays tribute to the historic legacy of the venues, and the many legendary artists who have performed there over the past fifty years. A dynamic blend of contemporary and classical work sees vibrant performances, events, installations and a free programme for all ages across the venues.
A new era for Southbank Centre’s venues sees an even greater focus on the best live music, bold programing, new artists, new commissions, artist residencies and an expanded 1000 capacity gigs space in the Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer.
The cultural landmarks open with world class, environmentally-improved new facilities for audiences and artists that highlight the unique heritage features of the buildings. The design, led by architects Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (FCBStudios), focused on refurbishing the auditoria, foyer and artists’ back of house facilities. Improved access, ventilation and lighting systems, and new production infrastructure enhance the experience for audience and performers alike. New leather upholstery revitalises the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room’s distinctive and comfortable seating. This historic restoration has been made possible through generous support from Arts Council England and the Heritage Lottery Fund, thanks to National Lottery players, and through Southbank Centre friends, trusts and foundations supporting the Let The Light In campaign. Southbank Centre’s reopening programme runs from Monday 9 April, offering audiences a packed programme of new music and performance which reflects Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room’s pioneering history of incubating new ideas, work and artists. With over 100 events in the first two months alone, including 32 premieres and new commissions, Resident and Associate Ensembles and Artists appear alongside emerging talent and cutting-edge work.
A special opening night concert in Queen Elizabeth Hall from Associate Orchestra Chineke! Orchestra, Europe’s only majority-BME orchestra, who were founded and made their debut in the venue in 2015 (9 April).
An immersive, commemorative heritage exhibition, Concrete Dreams, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and designed by Klanghaus and Andrew Lock. This new Purcell Room exhibition gives visitors exclusive backstage access, and takes them on an historic journey through the diverse cultural archives of Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery, from 1960s Britain right through to the present day (10-29 April 2018).
Friday 13 April kicks off a packed weekend of gigs and new talent, showcasing Southbank Centre’s commitment to nurturing and supporting emerging talent and female artists, with names including Afrobeat-pop newcomer Aadae, South London soul singer Tawiah, 18-piece big band Abstract Orchestra, modern minimalist Matt Emery, new jazz duo Skeltr and innovative multi-instrumentalist, singer-songwriter and composer Hannah Peel with Tubular Brass (13-14 April).
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 String Quartet No. 1, 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, new works from Charlotte Bray and Milica Djordjevic, and more. Launch of Composers’ Collective, a new year-round initiative connecting composers at all stages of their careers with a huge variety of eminent composers passing through Southbank Centre via workshops, seminars, networking and more (13-15 April).
New festivals include the first music festival in the refurbished QEH, Ligeti in Wonderland curated by Artist in Residence Pierre-Laurent Aimard (11-13 May); and (B)old showcasing and celebrating work of older artists, supported by The Baring Foundation (18-20 May).
New literature events include a 60th anniversary reading of Chinua Achebe’s seminal work Things Fall Apart with a stellar cast including Lucian Msamati; a reading of Doris Lessing’s The Golden Notebook featuring Lydia Wilson; and a bespoke event celebrating Fifty Poems from Five Decades, with 10 leading poets including Simon Armitage.
New performance and dance events announced include Hotel Pro Forma’s NeoArctic and Malavika Sarukkai’s The Loom. Concrete Dreams Weekend celebrates the heritage of QEH and Purcell Room, showcasing music, dance, visual art and literature linked to the site's 50 year history and featuring Shiva Feshareki, Anna Meredith, Shobana Jeyasingh Dance, Rambert Dance, ZooNation, Tomorrow’s Warriors, and more.
Other performer highlights include: Adjoa Andoh, Laura Bates, Malika Booker, Colin Currie, Danielle de Niese, Imtiaz Dharker, Lara Feigel, Caleb Femi, Benjamin Grosvenor, Peter Hammill, Richard Herring, Olu Jacobs, Soweto Kinch, Sam Lee, London Contemporary Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Eimear McBride, Kele Okereke, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Chibundu Onuzo, Iliza Shlesinger, Spira mirabilis and more.
Composer highlights include: Thomas Adès, Gerald Barry, David Bedford, Unsuk Chin, Bryce Dessner, Jonathan Dove, Brian Ferneyhough, Christian Mason, Steve Reich and Rebecca Saunders.
Elaine Bedell, Chief Executive, Southbank Centre, said: “Thanks to the generosity of our supporters we re-launch these cherished cultural arts venues back into the world, as welcoming, modern and creatively inspiring spaces that retain and build on their artistic heritage. With even more world class music and a focus on new and emerging talent, we’re looking forward to seeing every generation of artists and audiences enjoy these revitalised buildings, which are a unique part of London’s world-renowned cultural offering.”
Jude Kelly, Artistic Director, Southbank Centre, said: “When these Brutalist buildings opened in the 1960s they represented a spirit of adventure, and a egalitarian view that art should be for all. With the re-launch of these beloved spaces, we hold fast to that belief, with a bold, ambitious and exciting programme that has audiences and artists of every background at its heart. It’s thrilling to have the whole Southbank Centre site back to full force, truly reflecting our position as the UK’s largest and most egalitarian arts centre.”
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.”