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The Royal Albert Hall in London will be 150 in 2021

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The Royal Albert Hall in London  has a capacity of over 2000 people. Initially, it could accommodate over 9,000 people, but modern security measures have prevented any overcrowding. 

In 2021 it turns 150 and pandemic or not, there are several big events in sight. Among the things not to miss we will have: Matthew Bourne, returns to the Royal Albert Hall to create a spectacular new staging of The Car Man, his acclaimed interpretation of Bizet’s opera, Carmen. (June 17-27) Shows by famous musicians such as Patti Smith, Jon Hopkins, Gregory Porter, Tinie, Brian Wilson, Jonas Kaufmann, Bryn Terfel and Alfie Boe.

Nitin Sawhney, will curate Journeys – 150 Years of Immigration, a week-long festival that celebrates the life and contribution of immigrants over the past 150 years. The season will include a main show with a new piece by Sawhney: an oratorio for strings and choir. (29 September-6 October 2021).

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the orchestra associated with the Royal Albert Hall, will present a series of concerts that celebrate the concert hall’s important birthday and its own 75th anniversary.

For International Women’s Day, the hall will host the famous WOW – Women of the World Festival. This special show will also be streamed online (March 8, 2021)

Nile Rodgers will compose an anniversary anthem, featuring an entire orchestra and singers.

It was meant to be called the Central Hall of Arts and Sciences, but with the death of Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, it was decided to dedicate it to him.

The idea for the Hall came from Prince Albert who had organized the Great Exhibition of 1851. He wanted to create a permanent temple for the sciences and the arts. The Royal Albert Hall was to be a part of what was nicknamed “Albertopolis” and which also includes the three great museums of South Kensington. #

His initial design was to include space for lectures and conferences, libraries and exhibition space and would be funded from the profits from the Great Exhibition. The prince died in 1861 before the project began.

After the Prince’s death, the project was approved and Queen Victoria laid the foundation stone in 1867 and the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington opened on March 29, 1871. When the scaffolding was removed, it was feared that the dome would not hold up, but as you can see still now everything was fine.

What no one had foreseen, however, was that the dome created an unpleasant echo and  until 1969 the music was heard twice. The echo was only discovered at the opening ceremony when the amen of the bishop of London for the blessing was clearly heard twice.

. It was said at the time that the price of concerts at the Royal Albert Hall was very affordable, since you had the opportunity to hear the music twice! In 1969 they placed the famous ‘mushrooms’ on the ceiling to improve the acoustics. Recently the room had a two million pound sonic refurbishment which transformed the sound.

The installation work was done at night and no concerts were canceled and everything was done practically in secret. It was a challenge given the number of cables and amplifiers to be placed in a building that was also protected. 

The structure of the building was inspired by the old amphitheaters. It is surrounded by a mosaic illustrating the triumphs of the arts and sciences. The organ built in 1871 was then the largest in the world. The Royal Albert Hall in Kensington was initially lit by gas lights, but in 1888 it had electric lights.

Since 1941 the Royal Albert Hall has hosted the orchestral part of The Proms every year which are eight weeks of classical and chamber music concerts. Chamber music concerts are held at Cadogan Hall.

Not everyone knows that the Proms were held at Queen’s Hall until May 10, 1941. But on that night for five hours, the Luftwaffe ferociously bombed London leaving 1,436 dead and 1,792 wounded. The House of Commons, the House of Lords, Westminster Abbey, the British Museum, the Mint, the Mansion House, St James’s Palace and the Tower of London were all affected. The Queen’s Hall was completely destroyed. The Royal Albert Hall was the only concert hall in the capital not destroyed or damaged, this is how the Proms began.

While prominent classical musicians such as Wagner (as orchestra conductor during The Wagner Festival in 1877) or Rachmaninov have played at the Hall in the past, in recent years the Hall has hosted different types of shows. From a Eurovision competition final to ATP Champions Tour Masters tennis matches. Many of the great names of pop and rock music have played or sung here from Pink Floyd to Bob Dylan, from Janet Jackson to Kylie Minogue.

If you like anecdotes you should know that the Royal Albert Hall in London was the only place where The Beatles and The Rolling Stones played at the same concert.

In addition to concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington, charity events, choir concerts, award ceremonies, graduation ceremonies for Imperial College students and much more are also held. Royal dances were also held for the coronation of various monarchs and boxing tournaments.

Until 1985 those who worked at the Royal Albert Hall in Kensington were volunteers and were not paid, they were given free tickets instead.

Worked in many sectors including recruitment and marketing. Lucky to have found a soulmate who was then taken far too soon. No intention of moving on and definitely not moving to Thailand for the foreseeable future. Might move forward. Owned by a cat.

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Books

Review of Rock Paper Scissors by Alice Feeney

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Finally, a thriller which is actually thrilling. There are many good books (and bad ones) labelled psychological thrillers, but often they are more family dramas that actual thrillers. This book manages to do be both quite successfully. Amelia and Adam’s marriage is on the rocks, he is a successful screenwriter and spends too much time working. Also he suffers from face blindness, which means he can’t recognise faces. They go to counselling and after having been offered a free weekend in the middle of nowhere in the Scottish Highlands, they go try to save their marriage. Once there, they realise the space is cold and spooky and strange things happen, this is the thrilling part of the book. You can read the couple’s perspective, not one of them is actually a very reliable narrator, but you don’t know whom to believe for most of the book. Every so often you will read a letter wrote but unsent by Adam’s wife every year at their wedding anniversary. In this letters she expresses her true feelings. But then when you think you know where this book is going, here comes the major twist. It’s a clever twist used in a few other psychological thriller, where whatever you thought you knew is turned on its head. I won’t say anything more not to spoil the enjoyment. I would say that it’s an enjoyable read, I would probably give it a 4.3 as a thriller.

SaleBestseller No. 1
Rock Paper Scissors: The phenomenal new thriller and instant New York Times bestseller from the author of Sometimes I Lie
  • Feeney, Alice (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 320 Pages - 08/19/2021 (Publication Date) - HQ (Publisher)

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Books

Review of Stolen by Tess Stimson

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It’s the second book I read by Tess Stimson and I have been quite impressed by her storytelling skills and psychological insights. The plot of Stolen is about yet another child disappearing, but it has some differences.

Lottie is nearly four years old and goes with her mother Alexa to a friend’s wedding in Florida. The wedding is posh and partly on the beach. Alexa is a widow, Lottie’s father Luca died in the Genoa’s bridge disaster. Therefore, nothing strange with wanting to have sex with another guest, she disappears for a little while, thinking that Lottie will be looked after by other guests. When Alexa returns, Lottie is nowhere to be seen. What follows is the usual media circus, with the accusations that at best she wasn’t a good mother and at worst she had killed her daughter. Yes, it’s all very Madeline McCann and how often the victim is verbally lynched, especially if a woman.

The police doesn’t seem to make any progress and no one knows where Lottie is. What follows is a long series of red herrings, misleading leads and several huge twists. I found the description of Alexa’s grief as very accurate, sensitive and quite moving. She might not have been the world’s best mother, but Alexa loved her daughter and missed her terribly. Overall, it’s a good book with many psychological insights, what spoiled it a bit was the ending, extremely spectacular but a bit too far-fetched. It could have worked just as well without pushing it over the top, but still an above the average psychological thriller. I was given and advanced copy by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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A Treasury of Songs: Book and CD Pack
  • Donaldson, Julia (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 96 Pages - 09/07/2017 (Publication Date) - Macmillan Children's Books (Publisher)

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Music

London, Jack White record store opening announced

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For those who don’t remember Jack White had become famous with the White Stripes, but meanwhile he has been busy with many projects. One of them is his record stores which are called Third Man and so far are located in Detroit and Tennessee, both cities with an important musical history.

The third shop opens in London and will have a small live music space called ‘The Blue Basement’ and the European offices of Third Man Records, most notably Paul Weller and The Jesus and Mary Chain and a rarity from Manchester legendary group ‘The Magic Roundabout’. You don’t have to go to London to buy them, you can go to their website and buy them online.

The shop and music space will open on 25 September in Soho, at 1 Marshall Street in Soho, London W1F 9BA. It should be an interesting project, and at least this time not founded by some multinational.

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