Royal Albert Hall celebrates its 150th anniversary


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London: The “Royal Albert Hall” in London celebrated its 150th anniversary, which was once a concert hall and at other times a sports arena and sometimes even a filming location and is still keen to enrich its diverse artistic balance.

This lofty brick-colored architecture topped by a glass dome, classified as heritage buildings with its designs inspired by Roman architecture, was crowded Monday with 5,000 spectators who did not wear masks, after the last restrictions imposed to confront the outbreak of Covid-19 in Britain were removed.

She presented them with a work for the first time written by David Arnold, who is known especially in the field of film music (“James Bond”, “Independence Day” and “Sherlock”) retracing the history of this eventful hall.

From Wagner to Lady Gaga, passing through Dfujak, “The Beatles”, Hendrix and “Pink Floyd”, the “Royal Albert Hall” has hosted since its inauguration in 1871 and named in honor of Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, the biggest names in classical music as well as in rock and pop music.

“We are very proud of the diversity of styles on offer, and I would have been very disappointed if we had only been to classical or rock performances,” Craig Hassall, director of the showroom, told AFP.

And he added, “We always strive to get the best of every kind of music, from the best orchestras in the world, the best circus bands, the best boxing matches.”

The large circular hall, surrounded by velvet seats and with an adjustable floor, hosted many sporting events, from sumo matches that required strengthening the floor to tennis matches.

Dubbed the “Nation’s Village”, this site boasts of its great diversity. The architecture, inspired by a Roman amphitheater, “was designed to serve as a forum for intellectual cross-fertilization and education,” Hassall said.

It is not “elitist at all”, as its goal is to “educate and entertain the popular groups.” In this sense, events were organized that could be “a bit strange”, including a hairdressing competition or a spiritual session led by Arthur Conan Doyle’s wife to connect with the spirit of her writer husband, according to Hassall.

The latter stresses that the curators of this site have always made sure that it is “affordable to everyone at reasonable prices”. Tickets for Monday were sold at between 9 and 30 pounds.

In addition to the large parties that were held on the site, “Royal Albert Hall” entered the history of pop culture, forming a stage for the filming of famous films, such as “The Man Who is New to Match” by Hitchcock to “Rocketman”, or for historical events such as General de Gaulle’s speech to the French who followed him to London during the Second World War.

On the 150th anniversary of its founding, the Royal Albert Hall not only “restores the glories of the past”, but “looks forward to the future with a focus on young artists to shape the direction of culture in the next century,” according to Craig Hassall.

The festivities will, in fact, continue until 2023, with events still in part kept secret. It may provide this institution with an opportunity to compensate for the losses it incurred due to the pandemic, estimated at 60 million pounds.

It is difficult to predict the fate of “Royal Albert Hall” after 150 years from today, especially after it withstood this epidemic that surprised the whole world. But her director hopes she “never loses that direct interaction between humans that defines her”.


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