The Earl of Wessex, Patron of Chetham’s School of Music, is to open The Stoller Hall: Manchester’s newest performance space, as part of the opening weekend Friday 21-Sunday 23 April 2017. His Royal Highness, who has been Patron of the School since 2003, will unveil a plaque at the Opening Celebration Concert on Sunday 23 April, to officially launch the concert hall.
The £8.7m venue, situated in the centre of Manchester, boasts a 482-seat acoustically immaculate auditorium, perfect for a variety of ensembles and genres: from chamber music, choirs, and full-scale orchestras, to contemporary and jazz music, comedy and spoken word as well as recordings and conferences. Manchester is a vibrant hub of culture, boasting many different kinds of music venues: The Stoller Hall adds to this by filling the gap for a dedicated chamber music space. The opening weekend of concerts features outstanding Chetham’s alumni, students and friends of the School, showcasing the diverse programming planned for the space. The first audience to enjoy The Stoller Hall will be guests of BBC Radio 3’s In Tune, broadcast live from the venue on Friday 21 April from 4:30pm, with a line-up of guests and performers drawn from events across the Opening Weekend. Alumnus and pianist Gwilym Simcock leads the inaugural concert in the Hall alongside violinist Thomas Gould and guitarist Mike Walker in a programme showcasing the trio’s unique fusion of jazz, classical and folk sounds. Chamber music continues the following day, featuring the Navarra String Quartet performing Shostakovich's Quartet No. 5, Schubert's Quartetsatz and Beethoven's String Quartet No.1 in F major whilst in the evening, The Stoller Hall will be filled with laughter and music when Chetham’s Big Band is joined by Ted Robbins for a joyous mixture of stand-up comedy alongside the songs of Frank Sinatra.
The weekend culminates with the official launch of The Stoller Hall in the form of an Opening Celebration Concert, attended by benefactor Sir Norman Stoller. Conductor Sir Mark Elder and Director of Music at Chetham's School of Music, Stephen Threlfall direct a host of superb musicians in a specially-formed orchestra of alumni, staff and friends in a performance beginning with Walton’s Henry V; Brahms’ Alto Rhapsody led by mezzo-soprano Kitty Whately; and Ginastera’s Variaciones Concertantes. Alumnus and internationally renowned pianist Paul Lewis completes the line-up, playing Beethoven's Piano Concerto No.2.
In addition to public performances from Chetham’s musicians, The Stoller Hall will be the venue for a year-round series of events from a variety of genres: from jazz and comedy to folk and spoken word. The inaugural season includes the continuation of the Shostakovich: The Compete String Quartets cycle; pianists Julian Clef and Yuanfan Yang, both alumni of the School, perform in the Rising Stars series on Friday 28 April & Friday 19 May respectively; the Northern Chamber Orchestra with Chloë Hanslip on Saturday 10 June; Chetham’s Symphony Orchestra and Chorus with Paul McCreesh and members of Gabrieli on Tuesday 4 July. The Stoller Hall will add a new orchestral dimension to the already much-loved and impressive Chetham’s International Summer School & Festival for Pianists, with this year’s programme including all five Beethoven concertos and the return of the International Concerto Competition for Young Pianists. The Stoller Hall has been designed by Stephenson Studio architects with Arup Acoustics, and built by Sir Robert McAlpine. £7.5m of its overall cost has been generously donated by Sir Norman Stoller through the Stoller Charitable Trust, with additional support from the Garfield Weston Foundation. Members of the public are invited to support the remainder of the project costs by donating a ‘Round of Applause’ or naming a seat through the Encore campaign. Honorary seats will be dedicated to Sir Mark Elder and the late Michael Kennedy in recognition of their vital role in championing classical music in Manchester.