Royal Albert Hall to host first live show since Covid forced closure in March

The Royal Albert Hall is to host first live show

The Royal Albert Hall will host its first live show since closing due to the coronavirus pandemic with a recital on Britain’s second biggest pipe organ.

The test event will trial social distancing and Covid-safe measures ahead of a series of Christmas events and carol concerts.

The concert on November 20, for an audience of 1,300, will feature a performance by Thomas Trotter on the 9,999 pipe Voice of Jupiter.

It will be the first public event held at the London venue since it closed on March 17 and will feature socially-distanced seating, e-tickets, deep-cleaning, staggered entry times to reduce queues, temperature checks, a face covering policy, and sanitising stations throughout the venue.

It is designed to test safety measures at the venue ahead of the Christmas season – including The Nutcracker, Guy Barker’s Big Band, Handel’s Messiah and carol events – which will begin on December 9 and have a capacity of 2,500.

The venue has said socially-distanced performances are not financially sustainable but will allow the hall to protect jobs and stimulate the local economy.

The closure was only the venue’s second since the Blitz – and by December the hall will have forgone £30 million in income, and refunded more than £8 million of ticket sales.

Craig Hassall, chief executive of the Royal Albert Hall, said: “We can’t wait to welcome audiences back to the Hall, but we want to ensure that they feel safe and comfortable returning.

“This reduced-capacity test event will enable us to comprehensively trial safety measures, get feedback from audiences and ensure that social distancing is effective right across the building.

“It will also be a chance to experience live music at the Hall for the first time in more than eight months, in the company of one of the world’s great organists.”

The concert, with tickets costing £10, will comprise of two 30-minute halves, separated by an interval, and feature works by Bach and home-grown composers.

A smaller event will also be staged in the venue’s secondary space, the Elgar Room, on November 12, when up to 40 people can attend a performance by Canadian pianist Chilly Gonzales, who will also talk about his career.