25 Live – The Anvil Celebrates its 25th Birthday

The Anvil concert hall celebrates its 25th birthday this year.  Basingstoke’s key arts venue is renowned as one of the top five concert halls in the country and has a great reputation in Hampshire and beyond, as well as internationally.

The Anvil was built by Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council and opened in May 1994.  It has become one of the country’s leading venues, putting Basingstoke on the map and bringing to the town audiences from all over England.  With seating which sweeps from the stalls to the circle without a break, audiences have a great view from wherever they sit; there is an intimate feel no matter how far from the stage you are.

The Anvil is highly thought of by both audiences and performers alike.  The last survey undertaken showed a 96% audience satisfaction rating for the third year running, and people who first came to The Anvil as children in 1994 are now bringing their own children to the venue.  The Anvil is also a favourite venue for artists and those giving enthusiastic compliments range from Dara O’Briain to Sir Simon Rattle.

The Anvil is run by Anvil Arts, a not-for-profit trust.  As well as the performance programme, Anvil Arts works in the community taking musicians into mainstream and special schools, residential homes and hospitals.  Every year more than 30,000 children perform on its stages.

The Anvil will be marking this special anniversary on Friday 3 May with a spectacular birthday concert performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra.  Jonathan Mayes, the orchestra’s Concert Director, said “The Philharmonia is delighted to have a long-standing relationship with The Anvil as Orchestra in Partnership.  Since our first performance in Basingstoke in May 1994, the same month that the hall opened, we have continued to bring many of the world’s great conductors and soloists to Basingstoke.  Our players love performing in The Anvil’s outstanding acoustics and we are thrilled to be participating in the 25th anniversary celebrations. Here’s to the next 25 years!

The programme will feature Sheku Kanneh-Mason performing Elgar’s Cello Concerto, and the world premiere of Breathing Space, a new commission by highly-rated British composer Samantha Fernando.

Sheku Kanneh-Mason – credit Lars Borges
Samantha Fernando

Speaking about the piece, Samantha said “The Anvil was the place I saw some of my first orchestral concerts as a child so it is particularly meaningful to be writing a piece for a performance there“.

Over the last 25 years, The Anvil has helped to transform the image of Basingstoke.  With the continued support of its audiences, funders and artistic partners, the next 25 years look set to be even more exciting and successful.

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