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BIRMINGHAM TOWN HALL’S 175th BIRTHDAY

16-06-2009

Birmingham Town Hall

Birmingham’s wonderful refurbished Town Hall celebrates it’s 175th birthday with a series of events encompassing Handel's Messiah, a Bhangra Bash, The Destroyers, Paul Robeson Re-Explored, and Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius. PR bloke Lyle Bignon has more.

Town Hall Birmingham is one of the oldest concert halls in the world. At the centre of British musical life since the day it opened in October 1834, the much-loved venue marks its milestone 175th anniversary with a special series of events including concerts, talks, dances, films and more.

Tickets go on sale on Thursday 18 June for the series, which runs from October to December.

The 175th anniversary celebrates Town Hall's unique and continuing heritage with seventeen events from traditional to contemporary, reflecting the wide range of performance the hall has always presented. From Tea Dances to talks, Salsa to Silent Movie, A Christmas Carol to a Carnival Open Day, there's sure to be something for everyone.

The official Birthday Concert on Saturday 3 October is a performance of Handel's Messiah, a cornerstone of Town Hall's programming since the hall opened in 1834. Harry Christophers conducts The Sixteen with a classic line-up of British soloists.

Elgar's The Dream of Gerontius - premiered in Town Hall in 1900 - receives two performances by Ex Cathedra and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and acclaimed baritone Willard White is joined by the Town Hall Gospel Choir to mark Paul Robeson's four appearances at Town Hall.

175 Today! A Carnival Open Day marks the birthday itself (4 October), with a free, fun packed day of music and dance for all the family and a truly carnival atmosphere.

One of many famous names to have spoken on Town Hall's stage was the author and social commentator Charles Dickens who visited Birmingham many times.

Clive Francis recreates the occasion in December 1853 when Dickens gave his reading of A Christmas Carol at Town Hall, Birmingham.

Three of Birmingham's best-loved bands, The Old Dance School, The Toy Hearts and The Destroyers join together for a night of eclectic and pan-global musical bohemia as part of the 175th series. Award winning experimental music and art promoters Capsule celebrate their own 10th anniversary with a December concert.

Another group marking an enduring relationship is the folk group Steeleye Span who visit Town Hall on their 40th anniversary tour.

Dance has always been part of the Town Hall picture and the anniversary events include the ever-popular Tea Dances, with the Garry Allcock All-Stars Band. There's a Birthday Bhangra Bash with Alaap, Heera and Mona, pioneers of British bhangra, and a 175th Birthday Salsa Ball with the legendary Grupo X All-Stars in a tribute to Tito Puente.

The Town Hall organ is as old as the hall, a magnificent instrument built by William Hill and still one of England's finest. The 175th Birthday Organ Concert by City Organist Thomas Trotter will include works particularly associated with the building, including music by his predecessor as City Organist, Sir George Thalben-Ball, and Felix Mendelssohn who played the organ on his visits to Town Hall. For Halloween, cinema organist Nigel Ogden improvises an accompaniment to the 1925 film classic Phantom of the Opera starring Lon Chaney.

Four talks complete the 175th anniversary series. In A Hall for All Seasons, Lyndon Jenkins and Beresford King-Smith explore Town Hall's rich classical music legacy, illustrated with historical recordings and rare film footage. The building's architectural history and recent renaissance is the subject of a talk by Project Architect Barry Adams and Project Historian Anthony Peers. Professor Carl Chinn considers Birmingham's, and Town Hall's, role in World War II history with live music provided by Garry Allcock and his All-Stars Band. And eminent biologist Professor Steve Jones celebrates Charles Darwin's bicentenary asking Is Human Evolution Over?

Tickets for Town Hall 175th anniversary series go on sale at 10am on Thursday 18 June and will be available from the box office on 0121 780 3333 or on-line at thsh.co.uk Further information from thsh.co.uk/175th

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