Aberdeen’s historic Music Hall will reopen before the end of the year – and the Evening Express will host the first major concert at the venue.
Bosses said Travis frontman Fran Healy will lead a community choir in a rendition of the band’s top-five hit Sing at an event dubbed Stepping In on Saturday December 8 to mark the relaunch.
On December 9, the Evening Express Carol Concert will return to the venue to celebrate its 50th anniversary, with hundreds of youngsters taking the stage.
Jane Spiers, chief executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts, the charity behind the £9 million transformation said: “We’re so excited at the prospect of stepping back into the hall and welcoming everyone through the doors.
“It’s been a labour of love and a complete privilege to play a part in the history of such a national treasure.
“Stepping In is a celebration of all that makes the Music Hall great – and most of all it’s a celebration of people and communities in the north-east.”
Work started on the refurbishment of the 200-year-old venue in April 2016 and was originally scheduled to take 20 months. However delays will see it reopen around a year later than planned and £2m over its initial £7m budget.
The project has seen extensive excavations below ground to create a new lower ground floor, freeing up space for a new performance studio, creative learning studio, cafe bar, restaurant and relocated box office.
The works have also included improving access and the entrance has been transformed with a floor-to-ceiling video screen exhibiting digital art.
Its auditorium has been restored with new flooring, staging, seating and decoration and other “essential repair and maintenance work”.
“It’s been a hugely ambitious and complex project and what’s been achieved within the total cost of £9m is incredible, thanks to a great team of committed professionals who believed in the project and have always gone the extra mile – our architects BDP, contractor Kier, project management Axiom and the amazing Aberdeen Performing Arts Team,” Jane added.
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The venue’s relaunch event on December 8 will see doors open to the public at 9.30am with free entry all day and a packed programme of performances and activities.
The next night, festive joy will fill the venue once again with the return of the Evening Express Carol Concert.
EE editor Craig Walker said: “We are delighted to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Evening Express Carol Concert by returning to the Music Hall for the first time since 2015.
“It is an honour for us to be the first major event to take place at the iconic building, and I am sure the night will be the first of many memorable evenings to take place there.
“The Music Hall has been at the centre of culture in the Granite City for many years, and we look forward to celebrating many more.”
The formal opening will take place the following weekend with two exclusive concerts – the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra on December 15 and Texas on December 16.
Aberdeen City Council co-leader Jenny Laing said: “It’s great to see our much-loved cultural landmark reopen its doors in its greatly improved form.
“The revamped Music Hall will join the redeveloped Art Gallery and the new £330m TECA complex to play an integral part in supporting the delivery of the city’s ambitious Aberdeen 365 event programme, a year-round programme of world-class events, festivals and performances which make the city a vibrant and exciting place to visit and experience.”
Craig Pike, chairman of Aberdeen Performing Arts, added: “We are supremely grateful to all our business partners, public sector partners and the many, many individuals who raised funds on our behalf, without whom we would never have made it to this point.
“Without your generosity there would be no Music Hall transformation.
“I am also immeasurably proud of the team at Aberdeen Performing Arts.”