Brian Wilson, Nile Rodgers Among Participants In Royal Albert Hall’s 150th Anniversary Festivities

The historic UK venue kicks off its year-long celebrations in March.

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Brian Wilson
Photo: Frank Hoensch/Redferns

Next year will mark the 150th anniversary of London’s venerable Royal Albert Hall. To celebrate, the historic venue has planned an extensive program of special events and initiatives, with performances by Brian Wilson, Gregory Porter, Patti Smith, and Nile Rodgers, among many other high-profile acts. The year-long schedule of festivities launches March 29, 2021 – exactly 150 years to the date of the concert hall’s opening.

Established in 1871 by Queen Victoria, who named the hall in memory of her late husband, Prince Albert, the Royal Albert Hall was intended to “democratize and promote the arts and sciences,” according to its website.

Since then, the venue has hosted many of the world’s biggest names – from The Beatles, The Who, and The Rolling Stones to Lady Gaga and Tony Bennett. Sir Winston Churchill gave many speeches at the Royal Albert Hall during the first half of the 20th century, while boxing legend Muhammad Ali fought there in the 70s. Just days before he fled to the US, Albert Einstein gave an impassioned speech for peace and freedom, ahead of the impending horrors of the Second World War.

In addition to the artists listed above, the celebrations also include headlining performances by Jon Hopkins, Jonas Kaufmann, Bryn Terfel, Tinie Tempah, and Alfie Boe.

Nile Rodgers, meanwhile, will compose a special pop anthem to commemorate the anniversary, accompanied by a full orchestra and singers from the community.

The Academy Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino, who has scored multiple Mission Impossible, Jurassic Park, and Pixar films, will write a new piece for the Hall’s famous Henry Willis Organ. Not only was this organ the biggest instrument in the world when the venue opened, but it has appeared in numerous classic albums, including Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention’s Uncle Meat.

Concertgoers can also look forward to a series of performances by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which is gearing up to celebrate its 75th anniversary.

Additionally, there will be an opportunity for artists to give back. Singer-songwriter KT Tunstall will lead a mentorship program for young female artists, while folk band This Is The Kit will run a workshop for local teens.

“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,” said the venue’s chief executive, Craig Hassall.

“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.”

For more information, visit the Royal Albert Hall’s official website.

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