Usher Hall manager Karl Chapman discusses the venue's 100th Birthday Concert

Mogwai, Rufus Wainwright and the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra will help mark the occasion


This article is from 2014.

Usher Hall manager Karl Chapman discusses the venue's 100th Birthday Concert

Whether or not the queen’s custom of sending congratulatory messages to those reaching their 100th birthdays extends to concert halls as well as people remains to be seen, but it’s unlikely that Edinburgh’s Usher Hall will be short of birthday greetings in celebrating its centenary. Opened in March 1914, with the bulk of the funds required coming from whisky distiller Andrew Usher, the purpose of the hall then remains at the core of its activity today.

Owned and operated by the City of Edinburgh Council, the Usher Hall is, says general manager Karl Chapman, ‘doing exactly what it says on the tin. What Andrew Usher wanted was for the citizens of Edinburgh to be able to hear great music in a great space. We went back to historical documents for our business plan and that is still what we are here to do.’

Some factors have changed over the years, including the hall introducing the sale of alcohol just over 30 years ago, which was part of the move to improve the customer experience. Visiting the hall today, with its ease of access, slick box office, spacious cafe bar and hospitality suite housed in a striking glass extension, is a quite different matter from even 20 years ago, when plaster fell from the venue’s ceiling after a Tony Bennett concert.

For the centenary celebrations, the 100th birthday concert features the hall’s fine Norman and Beard organ in a choral and orchestral concert and is flanked by dates with Rufus Wainwright, Gilded Comedy Gala, Mogwai and the Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra. ‘What we are trying to do,’ says Chapman, ‘is to create a venue with a diverse programme that people will come back to again and again. We believe that life’s too short for boring music.’

Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Thu 6 Mar.

This article is from 2014.

The Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra

  • Directed by: Andres Orozco Estrada (cond)
  • Written by: Beethoven

The Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra was established in 1907 and has a distinguished history; it gave the premiere performance of Arnold Schoenberg's mighty Gurrelieder. Since 2015 it's been under the musical direction of Japanese maestro Yutaka Sado.

Usher Hall, Edinburgh

Sun 5 Mar 2017

£12–£32 / 0131 228 1155

Mendelssohn: Hebrides Overture; Mozart: Clarinet Concerto featuring Emma Johnson; Brahms: Symphony No 1.


Glaswegian post-rock instrumental heroes. Mogwai formed in Glasgow in 1995 and unusually for a band with over 20 years experience under their belts they're retained the same line-up since they started work on their second album Come On Die Young. Members of the band include Stuart Braithwaite, John Cummings, Dominic…

Usher Hall Centenary Concert

The Usher Hall celebrates 100 years of being the capital's flagship concert hall with a programme of music from the three concerts that inaugurated it, back in 1914. Thomas Søndergård and Michael Bawtree conduct the RSNO and the Edinburgh Royal Choral Union, respectively, in music by Wagner, Rachmaninov, Mendelssohn…

Gilded Comedy Gala

Celebrate 100 years of the Usher Hall with a smashing line-up of comedians, including comedy vet Arthur Smith, Never Mind the Buzzcocks' Phill Jupitus, Smack the Pony's Doon MacKichan, Greg McHugh as Gary: Tank Commander and Barry Cryer & Ronnie Golden. As well as all the laughs, there's also music from Withered Hand…


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