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Blog > Royal Albert Hall shows the way forward

Today, Saturday September 12th, will see the return of one of Britain's annual fixtures in the world of performing arts: the Last Night of the Proms. While it will, of course, be possible for viewers and listeners around the world to follow the concert, there will be no live audience present in the Royal Albert Hall. Coronavirus has left concert halls and theatres standing empty all over the UK (as well as many other parts of the world). It's a critical situation for the many theatre companies which make up London's West End (their plight has been highlighted most recently by the great British composer and impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber). The Royal Albert Hall has been forced to launch an on-line appeal for private donations in order to avoid closing.

At least for the last couple of weeks we have had a flavour of the Proms with the musicians performing live in the Royal Albert Hall and concerts being broadcast by the BBC. This has provided music-lovers with the opportunity to reconnect to the unique ambience and setting of London's most iconic concert hall. Truly, there is no other musical venue quite like the Royal Albert Hall, which has been home to the Proms season since 1941. World-famous performers, bands and orchestras have graced its stage ever since its opening by Queen Victoria in 1871. Each year it hosts more than 350 events including ballet and opera, school and community events, and classical concerts.

So while we look forward to Saturday evening at the Proms, with its customary celebration of world-class music combined with the traditional patriotic songs like 'Land of Hope and Glory' and 'Rule, Britannia', we can also reflect on what we've been missing and what we hope to see again in the post-Covid future.

 What better time than now to celebrate some of Britain's top musical venues to rival the great Royal Albert Hall?

Grand Opera House, Belfast

Designed by the most prolific theatre architect of the Victorian period, Frank Matcham, this stunning venue opened in 1895. It is probably the best surviving example in the U.K. of the oriental style applied to theatre architecture.

Royal Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh

Built in 1883, this stunning 658-seat auditorium has been one of the main venues for the Edinburgh International Festival since its inception in 1947. Believed to be haunted, there have been sightings in the theatre of a ghostly blue woman, thought to be the great actress Ellen Terry.

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

The home of The Royal Opera, The Royal Ballet, and the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House, the sumptuous building seats 2,256 people and consists of four tiers.

Symphony Hall, Birmingham

One of the world's finest concert halls, Symphony Hall is a 2,262 seat auditorium and home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. Completed at a cost of £30 million, the hall's interior was modelled upon the Musikverein in Vienna and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam.

Glyndebourne, Sussex

Nothing says English summer more than Glyndebourne, the Sussex country house near Lewes that has been the site of an opera house since 1934. Initially, operas were presented within the 600-year old house itself but there is now a purpose-built opera house in the grounds.

Date: 11/09/2020 | Author: Jonathan Taylor

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