Arts, sport and science stars to lead Royal Albert Hall 150th birthday concert

The show features specially commissioned music by David Arnold.
The show features specially commissioned music by David Arnold.

Michael Sheen, Melanie C and Nicola Adams among the famous names announced for the Royal Albert Hall’s 150th birthday concert.

The special performance, titled A Circle Of Sound, will fall on July 19 and feature the famous London venue’s first full-capacity audience since March 2020.

James Bond and Sherlock composer David Arnold has created a 10-movement piece reflecting the hall’s 150 years and featuring narrators and writers including Professor Brian Cox, Neil Gaiman, Sanjeev Bhaskar, Helen Pankhurst and Jack Thorne.

Actors Sheen and Bhaskar will each introduce movements, while singer Melanie C, who performed at the hall with the Spice Girls and for Nelson Mandela, will present a movement dedicated to popular music.

Boxer and former Strictly Come Dancing contestant Adams, the first female boxer to fight at the hall, will lead a section marking the thousands of sporting events hosted there.

A movement will also celebrate activism including the more than 20 Suffragette rallies held at the so-called “Temple of Liberty”, introduced by Pankhurst – great grand-daughter of prominent Suffragette Emmeline.

Michael Sheen comments
Michael Sheen (Ian West/PA)

Cox will introduce “We dare, we dream, we do” – a movement dedicated to the role the hall, which was initially to be called the Central Hall of Arts and Sciences, played in scientific demonstration and debate in its early years.

The show will also feature the in-house Albert’s Orchestra alongside the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and spoken word artist LionHeart.

The concert marks the start of the space’s anniversary celebrations, which will now extend into 2023 due to the pandemic.

The hall, which was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 and named in memory of her husband Prince Albert, recently began hosting socially distanced concerts again following pandemic restrictions.

Its recent closure was only the venue’s second since the Blitz.