The Royal Albert Hall, located in the South Kensington area of London, is one of the UK’s most treasured and distinctive buildings. It is now part of the national trust and managed by a registered charity with no government funding. It is host to almost 400 shows in the main auditorium annually (including classical, rock & pop concerts; ballet; opera; film screenings with live orchestral accompaniment; sports events; awards ceremonies; school & community events; charity performances; and banquets), with a further 400 events held each year in its other non-auditorium spaces.
Since 1871, with the concert hall’s opening by Queen Victoria in honor of her late husband, many of the world’s leading performance artists have appeared on its stage, including Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, The Bee Gees, Adele, Bryan Adams, Cirque du Soleil (“Saltimbanco“), and Ulrich Schnauss (one of the more recent members of Tangerine Dream), as well as many others. It is particularly notable for hosting the BBC Proms, the world’s largest classical music festival, which has held concerts there every summer since 1941. The Doctor Who Proms (2008, 2010, 2013), intended to introduce young children to the Proms, have been some of the most successful concerts there in recent years. In August 2018, the Minnesota Orchestra also made their triumphal return to the Proms, marking Leonard Bernstein’s 100th-anniversary year with a concert of 20th-century American classics, including Bernstein’s Candide overture.
In terms of seating capacity, the Royal Albert Hall can seat 5,272 patrons (5,544 if you include the Gallery’s standing-room-only section), although the building was originally designed to accommodate 8,000 people and has even held as many as 9,000 (before modern safety codes). In popular culture, the Albert Hall is famously mentioned in the Beatles’ song “A Day in the Life” — specifically in the line “Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall“, although there is little consensus as to what the line is referencing. However, since the song also mentions “four thousand holes in Blackburn Lancashire” (in reference to the city’s potholes), perhaps if we just substitute “potholes” for “potheads”, we could infer that the line merely refers to the Albert Hall’s seating capacity?
- Toured: Sep 2017 (including Bryan Adams’s concert rehearsal)