Wigmore Hall to reopen to audiences with special 120th anniversary festival

13 April 2021, 11:55

Wigmore Hall to reopen to audiences with special 120th anniversary festival
Wigmore Hall to reopen to audiences with special 120th anniversary festival. Picture: Getty

By Rosie Pentreath

25 special concerts will accompany the hall’s official reopening to the public – with performances from pianists Angela Hewitt and Mitsuko Uchida, cellist Steven Isserlis and baritone Roderick Williams, among others.

Wigmore Hall is officially opening its doors to the public – for the first time this year.

The London venue, which has had its doors closed to audiences since Autumn 2020, has announced that it will be reopening for in-person concerts on 17 May, with a 25-concert festival marking its 120th anniversary.

The reopening festival, which will culminate in a special 120th anniversary concert on 31 May, featuring Wigmore Hall’s recently-appointed associate ensemble, Kaleidoscope Chamber Collective – led by violinist Elena Urioste and pianist Tom Poster – will see audiences return to the hall’s seats in a limited capacity according to the latest coronavirus guidance.

The day before, on Sunday 30 May, the 12 Ensemble will be ramping up celebrations with an outdoor performance at the hall’s nearby Portman Square Garden.

The festival, kicking off from the 17th, has a fittingly star-studded bill of artists lined up throughout – including pianists Angela Hewitt, Sir András Schiff, and Dame Mitsuko Uchida, cellist Steven Isserlis and baritone Roderick Williams.

Read more: How to watch Wigmore Hall’s Spring 2021 series of online concerts >

The 17 May reopening will also see Wigmore Hall inaugurate nine new associate artists, who will commence a five-year relationship with the venue: composer and performer Nitin Sawhney; sarod players Amjad Ali Khan, Amaan Ali Bangash and Ayaan Ali Bangash; violist Lawrence Power, soprano Gweneth Ann Rand; saxophonist Trish Clowes; vocalist and movement artist Elaine Mitchener; and jazz bassist Christian McBride.

Nigerian-Romanian pianist, Rebeca Omordia, will also be partnering with the hall, bringing her African Concert Series to its programme to celebrate the depth and diversity of African art music, while forming a bridge between Western classical music and traditional music from African countries.

To accompany the reopening, Wigmore Hall will be naming its green room the ‘Jessye Norman Green Room’, in memory of the legendary soprano who enjoyed a decades-long association with the venue.

Director of Wigmore Hall, John Gilhooly said, “Since its auspicious opening in 1901, Wigmore Hall has become the international headquarters of chamber music with a diverse roster of artists and repertoire.

“At this time of renewal, we are keen to continue our search for new and unjustly neglected voices on stage.”

Wigmore has also announced a Learning Festival, which will explore the theme of ‘Connectivity’ and focus on music’s role in the face of isolation endured by many during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Since closing in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic, Wigmore Hall has streamed more than 200 concerts, featuring 360 artists, to over 6 million viewers and radio listeners across the globe – and generated more than £1 million in online donations.

Tickets for all 25 concerts of the reopening festival are being released on a ballot basis to Friends of Wigmore Hall first, and seating capacity will be determined by government announcements in the coming weeks. 13 of the concerts will be streamed free of charge on Wigmore Hall’s website. Click here to find out more.

It’s wonderful to see the hall welcoming people to experience live music inside its four walls once again, in a glimmer of hope for live music in 2021.