The Royal Albert Hall will hold a socially-distanced ‘test event’ for 1,300 people ahead of its Christmas season.
Thomas Trotter’s hour-long organ recital on Friday 20 November will be the first public event held at the London venue since the Hall’s closure on 17 March.
It is designed to test safety measures at the venue prior to a series of Christmas events including carol concerts, Messiah, Guy Barker’s Big Band and The Nutcracker beginning on 9 December, which will each have a capacity of up to 2,500.
The measures at all events will include 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.
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 on 20 November will comprise two 30-minute halves, separated by an interval, and feature works by Bach and home-grown composers. Tickets go on sale this Thursday, priced at £10.
A smaller event will also be staged in the venue’s secondary space, the Elgar Room, on Thursday 12 November, when up to 40 people will be able to see Grammy-winning Canadian pianist, Chilly Gonzales, performing and talking about his career.
The events will mark the Hall’s first concert season in nine months, on the eve of its 150th anniversary. Although socially-distanced performances are not financially sustainable, they will allow the Hall to protect jobs, stimulate the local economy and the wider arts ecosystem. In only its second closure since the Blitz, by December the Hall will have forgone £30m in income, and refunded over £8m of ticket sales.
The venue has sold more than 16,900 of the 36,000 tickets available for its limited Christmas season since going on sale last month. For more information about the programme, go to www.royalalberthall.com/Christmas