The Royal Albert Hall turns 150 today – but the London venue’s celebration plans have been put on hold due to the pandemic.
The domed structure which sits adjacent to the Albert memorial in Hyde Park was opened in 1871 by Queen Victoria, who at the time said it reminded her of the British Constitution.
Now, a celebration is planned for over the summer, to commemorate the Royal Albert Hall’s place in society.
Composer David Arnold, who has written scores for five James Bond films, Stargate and Independence Day among others, is part of the celebrations, and told Sky News he is looking forward to bringing people together for the event.
He said: “We intend to do the celebration regardless, it’s just going to be a little bit later in the year when things are looking a little bit better for that but the original concert would have been this evening because today (Monday) is the day of the 150th birthday.
“We had everything planned, orchestras, big choirs, kids from the community and we were all going to be in there making this incredible noise and all of a sudden we got shut off, the same as everyone else.”
Mr Arnold said that organisers of the celebration had been working out the best way to get the event off the ground, adding they settled on 19 July, saying it was a “relief” to get a date in the diary.
Talking about the Royal Albert Hall’s history, Mr Arnold told Sky News: “It’s extraordinary the things that have happened in there, it held the world’s first ever indoor marathon in 1909 and there were two people – there was an Italian and an Englishman and it was 524 laps of the stalls and to keep 2,000 people who came in to the hall to watch it entertained… they actually had a big band in there.”
He said some of the venue’s most iconic performances include, Albert Einstein who led a fundraiser for refugees, Stephen Hawking, The Proms, Deep Purple, the suffragettes and Winston Churchill.
“So much important stuff and enjoyable stuff has happened there, it’s just a place where magical things happen,” he added.
Mr Arnold has written a 75-minute piece for the 150th anniversary, saying it was a “conundrum” to work out how to encapsulate the venue’s history.
“We put it in chapters, so there’s all the sporting events, all the political things, the musical things, pop music, classical music… so there are 10 individual chapters which represent certain things that have happened in the hall.”