This past year has been a significant event in the life of the Memorial Hall and the Concert Series was thrilled to return to its regular home following the hall’s spectacular £6.5m refurbishment. Audiences are now greeted by a fresh, new, sophisticated and state of the art interior, which in the process of its renovation has not lost any of the Memorial Hall’s elegance and charm. To herald the new season it was important to make a splash, and what better way than to invite the legendary BBC Big Band with conductor, Barry Forgie and Elaine Delmar as soloist. In short, it was sensational and the near capacity audience was treated to some astonishingly virtuosic and expert ensemble playing, which was utterly thrilling.
The acoustics of the hall have been very much at the forefront of the hall’s refurbishment and with carefully managed amplification applied to an absolute minimum the natural resonance of the hall coped admirably with the complex, and at times significant, volume of sound. With further major performances in the pipeline, such as the BBC National Orchestra of Wales in November (for broadcast on BBC Radio 3) this was precious knowledge gained, and the coming season will continue to teach us a huge amount concerning the versatility and capability of the new acoustics. The BBC Big Band will live long in the memory – truly world class musicians performing in a truly world class venue.