The Hallé’s fundraising for the new building at Hallé St Peter’s has been completed with a generous gift from the Victoria Wood Foundation.
Work is currently underway for the new three-storey extension at Hallé St Peter’s, a deconsecrated church is the heart of Ancoats. The new building will be known as The Oglesby Centre, in recognition of a significant gift from the Oglesby Charitable Trust, and will provide a brand new façade to the building, which will front onto Cutting Room Square. The new building will provide a much more welcoming approach, and much needed additional facilities including a café and kitchen, large new rehearsal space, education workshop facilities, individual practice spaces, and improved facilities for the Hallé’s musicians and choirs.
The Hallé is the first organisation to receive a major gift from the Foundation, and as a consequence the largest hall in the new building will be named ‘The Victoria Wood Hall’.
Victoria Wood worked with the Hallé in 2011 on the stage musical That Day We Sang, and later in 2014 for the TV adaptation of the story. The musical told the story of a reunion of choir members from a well-known recording of Henry Purcell’s ‘Nymphs and Shepherds’ in 1929. The television adaptation featured the Hallé Children’s Choir and the Hallé Orchestra. Following these projects, Victoria Wood became the first Patron of the Hallé Children’s Choir.
Victoria Wood made the decision to leave a sum of money to be given to charities close to her heart, and appointed a group of close friends and colleagues to administer the Foundation.
Born in Bury, Victoria attended performances of the Hallé as a child, which likely contributed to her life-long passion for music.
The Hallé St Peter’s project has a wonderful synergy with much that Victoria Wood upheld as important. The aim of the building is to continue to grow the Hallé’s Education and Outreach work, providing top class coaching and tuition for gifted individuals, as well as inclusive projects encouraging a wider range of children and adults to engage with music. As patron of the Hallé Children’s Choir, Victoria Wood recognised the aim of the ensemble to nurture and encourage young talent in a safe environment, whilst providing exceptional opportunities for gifted young people. The acoustics in the new Victoria Wood Hall have been designed around the sound of the Hallé Children’s Choir.
In recognition of the support for the new building, the Hallé have commissioned arrangements of some of Victoria Wood’s songs to be performed by the Hallé Children’s Choir when the building reopens. The Hallé will also use the new building and the Victoria Wood Hall to mount a display explaining the Hallé’s association with Victoria Wood.
Nigel Lilley, Trustee of The Victoria Wood Foundation, said:
‘The Victoria Wood Foundation are delighted to be supporting Hallé St Peter’s. Victoria first collaborated with the Hallé Children’s Choir and Youth Orchestra on ‘That Day We Sang’ for the Manchester International Festival, and later with the choir and main orchestra for the subsequent BBC adaptation. Victoria particularly enjoyed working with the youth choirs, brilliantly led by Shirley Court, and rehearsing with them was undoubtedly one of the highlights of a project that was very close to Victoria’s heart. We are proud to be able to continue Victoria’s association with the Hallé and look forward to hearing the children rehearsing in their new home.’
John Summers, Chief Executive of the Hallé, said:
‘We are thrilled and honoured to be working with the Victoria Wood Foundation and are immensely grateful to the Trustees for their generous support for Hallé St Peter’s. The experience of working with Victoria on That Day We Sang was incredibly special for us at the Hallé, and it was wonderful to have a part of our history brought to life by her. The opportunity to have a permanent monument of our association with Victoria is an honour.’