New £20m theatre to boost city’s music scene
A new, 400-seat performance auditorium will be built by the University of Liverpool, to enrich the cultural life of the city and deliver real world experience to students.
Ground will be broken on the £20.5m Arts and Humanities Centre this Spring.
The auditorium will have an optimum acoustic profile and offer publicly-accessible performances across genres, with capacity for a 70-piece orchestra.
The major project will also deliver three lecture theatres, catering for more than 1,000 students across disciplines, alongside seminar facilities, informal study spaces, a new cafeteria and outdoor seating area.
Prof Catherine Tackley is head of the university’s department of music. She said: “The Arts and Humanities Centre will improve every aspect of our department.
“It’s important that we continue to facilitate and resource opportunities for our students to perform – whether they are studying music or not – in orchestras alongside their colleagues, and that means giving them somewhere perfectly suited to that. But it goes beyond performance.
“Our weekly lunchtime concert series already enables students to experience every element of organising live performances, from artist liaison and administration, to programming and technical aspects.
“The Arts and Humanities Centre will take this experience to an entirely new level, with students managing multiple performances each week.
“The facility will also give students interested in pursuing careers in sound recording and live broadcasting professional, real-world experience.”
In addition to the benefits for staff and students, the aim is to create a performance space that will sit alongside the UK’s leading concert venues, as well as complementing established city destinations such as the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall.
It will be situated on the south-east edge of campus, at the border between the entrance to the city and the university, making it easily accessible and highly visible.
The new centre design has been delivered by University of Liverpool alumni now working as architects at Ellis Williams, the award-winning firm behind the Baltic in Gateshead and the Storyhouse in Chester.
Former students – associate, Mushtaq Saleri (BA Hons Architecture 1995, BArch 1998) and project architect, Jade Meeks (BA Hons Architecture 2012, March 2015) – will work with the university’s school of architecture and acoustic research unit on the project, alongside some of the country’s top acoustic consultants at Arup.
The new development follows substantial investment by the university in department of music facilities.
The refurbished Gordon Stephenson Building, which will be officially opened by Vasily Petrenko, chief conductor of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and of the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, at a ceremony on March 12, now houses a suite of brand new recording and performance studios, teaching spaces and high-end equipment.
Prof Tackley added: “The intention is to complement Liverpool’s existing musical infrastructure, and with the Arts and the Humanities Centre that means filling a gap with a venue uniquely suited to the performance of a very diverse range of musical genres – from classical and contemporary compositional, to jazz and folk, and everything in between.
“Liverpool deserves this. It deserves both a department of music and a concert hall befitting of the fact that music is lifeblood here, perhaps more so than any other city in the UK.”
The university is investing £17.5m in the project, and is seeking an additional £3m to fund the development of the auditorium.
Half of this has already been achieved.