News: The Royal Festival Hall opened doors

Monday 11 June 2007

Over a quarter of a million people took part in The Overture, 48 hours of free opening celebrations for the Royal Festival Hall last weekend (Friday 8 – Sunday 10 June).

There were 24,000 free tickets for 130 events and concerts over 48 hours and some 18,000 performers and participants. Spectators watched open-air events from vantage points across the entire Southbank Centre site as well as on bridges and rooftops along the river. 3,000 people danced at midnight on the Riverside Terrace in a Silent Disco, accompanied by a large-screen projection of people dancing on the same terrace at the Festival of Britain in 1951. A spectacular light show over the whole exterior of the Hall showed multiple images of the Hall from 1951 to the present day.

Participants of all ages got involved in ballroom dancing, Bollywood steps, jam-making, choral singing, busking, silent disco, story-telling, or just watching performances by a cast of international artists including Paco Peña, Jarvis Cocker, Billy Bragg, Hélène Grimaud, the London Philharmonic Orchesta, the Philharmonia, The London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment.

Artistic Director of the Southbank Centre Jude Kelly said:
‘We have been overwhelmed by the extraordinary response to the re-opening of the Royal Festival Hall. Every performance this weekend blazed with quality, revealing the untapped creative power of people in this country, who, given this chance to work with the best artists in the world, have responded magnificently. The Royal Festival Hall is truly the “people’s place”.

The first chance to see dance in the newly refurbished Royal Festival Hall comes later this month (26 & 27 June) with digital artist Klaus Obermaier’s Rites a 21st century realisation of Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring. July brings gala performances – Ballet for the People – produced by the Ballet Boyz and the first performances of Carmen Jones, directed by Jude Kelly – with choreography by Rafael Bonachela.

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