Communities take centre stage at Music Hall Stepping In opening celebrations

Excitement builds across the city as Aberdeen’s much loved Music Hall gets set to open its doors to the public, and schools and community groups prepare to take centre stage.

The opening celebrations on 8 December mark the culmination of an award winning programme of Stepping Out projects, designed to engage communities in projects inspired by the Music Hall and keep the spirit alive during closure.

The Stepping Out programme was given public recognition at the Northern Star Business Awards last month when Aberdeen Performing Arts scooped the Making the Difference Award presented to ‘a company with a big heart’ in recognition of the hugely positive impact on communities of the Stepping Out programme.

Aberdeen Performing Arts Chief Executive Jane Spiers said, “We were thrilled to win the Northern Star Business Making the Difference Award for the Stepping Out community programme.  The Music Hall project is about much more than bricks and mortar.   The Music Hall has been at the heart of cultural, community and civic life in the North-east for nearly two centuries and the Stepping In re-opening will be a home grown celebration of community, talent and creativity.”

Groups from all over the city will be participating in the opening celebrations on Saturday December 8, including young people from all over Aberdeen city and shire, as part of the Year of Young People 2018. This year, Scotland puts its young people in the spotlight, showcasing their achievements and contributions, celebrating their talents and creating new opportunities for them to shine.

Young people from Orchard Brae ASN School have been working with musician and composer Abi Sinar from Drake Music Scotland, since September 2018 to create a world premiere performance for the re-opening. Drake Music provides music making opportunities for people with disabilities using new technologies.

Children from Gilcomstoun Primary School and Nursery have been taking part in an intergenerational project with Scottish Opera. Along with older adults from Aberdeen City Council Creative Learning groups, as well as residents from Rosewell House and Fergus House Care Homes, the children have been spending time together on a special project called

Spinning Songs, writing their own lyrics to create a very special songbook to share with audiences on December 8.

The 80 strong Music Hall Community Choir formed in 2017, has been rehearsing weekly in the lead up to the re-opening of the Hall. They have chosen some of their favourite songs to sing to mark the opening day. Led by Aberdeen Performing Arts very own Music Development Co-ordinator Kirsty Robertson and introduced by Northsound 1 DJ’s Jeff and Lauren, this will be an unmissable performance.

Even the acclaimed Music Hall Babies project is getting in on the act. The babies, who were all born in December 2017, have been taking part in a tailor made programme of arts events and activities throughout 2018 in music, dance, drama and visual arts. The babies will celebrate their first birthday with a little performance at Stepping In, which is being delivered by facilitators from Starcatchers.

Our Music Hall Young Ambassadors who have been helping to shape the future of the Music Hall and promote the celebrations will be around on the day to welcome everyone back, no doubt sharing their experiences in real time via social media, blogs and video diaries. They will also be involved behind the scenes working with the technical crew on sound and lighting, as well as gaining hands on experience with face painting and glitter tattoos. The Young Ambassadors will also join guides the following day, showing people around the restored building on detailed tours.

Young Ambassador Rory McIver commented: “We have been given a rare opportunity to co-design (be involved in) the re-opening of Aberdeen’s Music Hall. We attended workshops, local festivals and more, all leading up to the ‘Stepping In’ weekend for the new and transformed Music Hall. I’ve had a wonderful experience so far and can’t wait for what’s to come.”

Aberdeen Performing Arts Creative Learning Manager, Lisa Mathieson, said: “We were Stepping Out and we’re now Stepping In. It’s been a huge undertaking but so incredibly rewarding for everyone involved. It’s wonderful to see it all coming together. As we approach the opening date the anticipation and excitement is tangible. All of the projects involving young people have been supported by the Year of Young People event fund and we’re incredibly grateful for this opportunity to give young people the chance to shine.”

Stepping In is supported by the Year of Young People 2018 event fun, managed by EventScotland, part of VisitScotland’s Events Directorate. 

Paul Bush OBE, VisitScotland’s Director of Events, said: “We are delighted to be supporting Stepping In as part of the celebrations for Scotland’s Year of Young People 2018. It is fantastic to see young people playing a central role in the reopening of Aberdeen’s iconic Music Hall, their brilliant talents will help make this a memorable occasion in the city’s cultural life.”

Aberdeen Performing Arts received more good news this week when it was revealed that The Gannochy Trust had donated £20,000 towards activities with young people in the Music Hall new creative learning studio, the Tutti Studio, so called because ‘tutti’ is a musical term that means ‘all together’.

Aberdeen Performing Arts Chief Executive Jane Spiers “This generous donation from the Gannochy Trust will ensure that we can expand our creative learning activities from Spring 2019 and make the most of the Tutti Studio. We are so grateful to our business partners, public sector partners, friends and supporters. Without their generosity there would be no Music Hall transformation and no Stepping Out projects.”

For more information visit: www.aberdeenperformingarts.com/music-hall/

Photo: Richard Frew Photography

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