The doors of Waterfront Hall and Ulster Hall were closed on 18 March 2020 which marked the beginning of the world going into lockdown. We’ve all since changed our ways to try and adapt to the “new normal” but when it comes to producing world-class entertainment, there are some things that can’t be done over Zoom.
Whether you’re a regular to an Ulster Orchestra concert or more suited to dancing and singing along to Lewis Capaldi live on stage, there is one thing that marries these two experiences and that is the appreciation for how live music can lift the spirit.
Having had to cut the end of their season short due to closure, we got creative with Ulster Orchestra and looked for new ways in which we could provide a safe way in which to continue producing the incredible sounds of which we know so well.
Hosting over 30 concerts every year with everything from Tchaikovsky to James Bond, the Ulster Orchestra is no stranger to the two iconic Belfast venues
By adapting the ground floor seating in Waterfront Hall, we have been able to host the entire orchestra with three metre social distancing in place. Through the use of screens and masks throughout, we have successfully brought together over 40 outstanding classical musicians to produce and record music for BBC and beyond. Richard Wigley, Managing Director of Ulster Orchestra, explains;
“We are determined to find a safe way to share amazing music with the people of Northern Ireland; this means that our musicians are recorded whilst spread across the expanse of the stage and stalls area of the Waterfront Hall. It is a unique challenge for all musicians around the world to manage the social distancing requirements whilst remaining a tight ensemble; a worthy challenge for our superb orchestra. And with Chief Conductor Daniele Rustioni back in residence, everything becomes possible.”
Julia Corkey, Chief Executive ICC Belfast | Waterfront Hall | Ulster Hall, comments;
“The Waterfront Hall is one of Belfast’s most iconic venues and is at the heart of the city’s live entertainments scene. We have hosted many Ulster Orchestra concerts over the years and we are really delighted to be able to once more set the stage for these recordings. Visitor and staff safety is our top priority. Until we are able to welcome live audiences back safely, streaming provides an imaginative solution for their many supporters to continue to enjoy the Orchestra’s much-loved music.”
As we are all finding our feet in this new world, we are delighted to be working in partnership with Ulster Orchestra and BBC to host the region’s only professional symphony orchestra in the heart of Belfast.
Here’s a sneak peak of the orchestra in action: