Royal Albert Hall at 150

Published: 6 December 2020
Reporter: Sandra Giorgetti

Royal Albert Hall - Auditorium
Queen Victoria Laying the Foundation Stone
Jimi Hendrix at Royal Albert Hall
Patti Smith
Nitin Sawhney
Royal Albert Hall exterior Credit: David Levene

London's Royal Albert Hall celebrates its 150th birthday with a special programme of performances that starts in March on the anniversary of its opening.

Whilst looking back at past events, there are also new commissions and concerts from music legends planned for the venue whose iconic façade has recently been restored.

Opening the programme is a multimedia spectacular created by award-winning composer David Arnold in collaboration with a team of musicians, community members and the Chelsea Pensioners and hundreds of local schoolchildren to be performed by a full orchestra with singers from the National Youth Choir of Great Britain and special guest stars.

The multi-award-winning Nitin Sawhney will curate a week-long festival entitled Journeys—150 Years of Immigration, to feature a new oratorio for strings and choir by Sawhney, and the Hall will also host WOW—Women of the World Festival.

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which will celebrate its own 75th anniversary, will give a series of concerts and other music comes from a special orchestral commission to be performed as part of the BBC Proms, the Band of the Royal Marines and the annual Brass Band Championships.

Those giving concerts include Patti Smith, Jon Hopkins, Bryn Terfel and Alfie Boe.

Other highlights include a new staging of The Car Man by Matthew Bourne's company, New Adventures, later in the year. The full programme is available online.

An educational programme, the publication of anniversary book, A Celebration in 150 Unforgettable Moments (published by Ebury), the issue of a £5 coin by the Royal Mint and a ROH inspired tea set from Royal Crown Derby are amongst the other celebrations.

The Royal Albert Hall was named after Prince Albert, the husband of Queen Victoria, who opened the venue in 1871. The COVID pandemic has closed the Hall for the first time since the Second World War during which time it has so far lost income in the region of £27 million, as reported in The Stage.