Curtain rises on Aberdeen's transformed Music Hall

The interior of Aberdeen Music Hall
The revamped interior of Aberdeen Music Hall
Aberdeen’s historic and much-loved Music Hall, the heart of concert and cultural life in the north-east of Scotland, has reopened its doors after an incredible transformation.

Thanks to funding raised by players of the National Lottery, the 200-year-old venue now has modern facilities and new spaces including a creative learning studio, café and bar, relocated box office and a new performance space.

After significant excavations, three new lifts have been installed to allow everyone, including people with restricted mobility, to access all levels from basement to balcony for the first time in the building’s history.

[quote= Lucy Casot, Head of HLF in Scotland]“Aberdeen Music Hall has delighted, educated and entertained audiences for decades. Now, its historic beauty shines through while providing a contemporary, cultural experience for visitors of all ages.”[/quote]

Saved from demolition

The venue was opened in 1822, and was originally the City's Assembly Rooms. It hosted many packed-out performances including readings from Charles Dickens.

In the 1960s the Music Hall survived the threat of demolition as part of the redevelopment of Union Street. Public outcry meant that plans didn’t go ahead and the venue was saved.

More recently almost all of Aberdeen’s Freedom of the City ceremonies have taken there. Among those receiving the accolade have been the Queen, Nelson Mandela, Mikhail Gorbachev, Winston Churchill and former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson.

Culturally relevant

Aberdeen Performing Arts Chief Executive, Jane Spiers, said: "Our main aim right from the beginning of this project has been to ensure that this magnificent venue’s historic value and features are preserved, while remaining culturally relevant and at the forefront of innovation and creativity for generations to come. It has been a privilege to play a part in the history of such a national treasure.”

National Lottery funding of over £700,000 helped breathe new life into the Music Hall.

Lucy Casot, Head of HLF in Scotland, said: “Aberdeen Music Hall has delighted, educated and entertained audiences for decades. Its fascinating history is tightly interwoven with the social history and cultural traditions of Aberdeen.  Now, its historic beauty shines through while providing a contemporary, cultural experience for visitors of all ages.

Find out more about the transformation in this short film.