Neil Warnock on the Royal Albert Hall's 150th anniversary

Neil Warnock on the Royal Albert Hall's 150th anniversary

UTA's head of global touring Neil Warnock has told Music Week the Royal Albert Hall's 150th anniversary celebrations will spearhead an "exciting" time for the live business as it rebounds from the Covid-19 pandemic.

The London venue has unveiled the programme for its anniversary celebrations, which will begin on March 29, 2021 - exactly 150 years on from its opening - and extend into 2022.

Headline shows across the season will include Patti Smith, Jon Hopkins, Gregory Porter, Tinie, Brian Wilson, Jonas Kaufmann, Bryn Terfel and Alfie Boe, with more to be announced.

Warnock, who is chair of the Hall's 150th anniversary committee, said: "This is going to be a very exciting time for the Hall, our business and the general public, and there are going to be some real treats along the way.

"You look at the artists that play the Royal Albert Hall and compare the size of the building with some of the arenas or stadiums they could be playing, but this is where they want to perform. David Gilmour will only play the Albert Hall when he plays the UK; he has such an affinity with it - and it is the same with so many artists."

We're looking to do a lot of firsts - collaborations that won't have been seen anywhere else in the world

Neil Warnock, UTA

The Hall will hold a special birthday concert, A Circle Of Sound, on March 29 next year, in the culmination of a year-long project by award-winning film composer David Arnold.

In addition, Nitin Sawhney will curate the week-long festival Journeys -150 Years Of Immigration, KT Tunstall will lead a new mentorship programme for young female artists and Nile Rodgers will compose a pop anthem for the anniversary, with a full orchestra and singers from across the community.

"We're looking to do a lot of firsts here - collaborations that won't have been seen anywhere else in the world - and that only can be done because it's the Albert Hall," said Warnock. "So when we get to that point where the next raft of announcements are, people are going to go, 'Oh my God! and there'll be a lot of those moments through '21 into the back end of 22, so it's going to be very exciting. We're going to have such great fun over the next 18 months, two years, as we bring some absolutely fabulous, diverse music in here."

Following the positive coronavirus vaccine news, Warnock is hopeful the industry will be given a potential restart date from the government to enable it to press ahead with non-socially distanced shows next year.

"We need to get back to the intimacy of the audience with the artists and the artists with the audience," he said. "That's the main thing I want to take out of this - that we look forward to that all happening again."

Royal Albert Hall CEO Craig Hassall added: “Despite the devastating impact of the pandemic, which has closed our treasured building to the public for the first time since the Second World War, we are determined to host a full celebration of our 150th anniversary.

“Since its opening, this extraordinary venue has borne witness to, and played a central part in, seismic cultural and social change. The interests, manners and social mores of the people may have changed, but this beautiful building and what it represents remains the same a century-and-a-half later: a meeting place, a reflection of contemporary Britain, and a home for exhilarating live performance and events of international significance.

“I want to thank the whole creative industry, our dedicated staff and all of the artists involved for their support in announcing this programme today.”

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