Full house as Ulster Hall reopens
The Ulster Hall reopened last night with a concert by the Ulster Orchestra in the presence of a capacity audience.
The £8.5m refurbishment scheme included refitting and redecorating the ornate Grand Hall, and a five-storey extension at the rear which provides modern dressing-rooms, education suites for schools and community groups, and new meeting facilities.
A special feature has been the restoration of Joseph Carey's paintings from 1902 which illustrates the history and mythology of Belfast.
The refurbishment included an new interpretive history display, and a new cafe area.
From June the Hall will also be the permanent home of the Ulster Orchestra.
Arts Minister Gregory Campbell said that he had been looking forward to the opening of the Ulster Hall. He added: “The arts have a vital role to play in the economic life of Northern Ireland.
“The re-opening of the invigorated Ulster Hall will enhance the cultural and artistic provision in the city and widen access to cultural activities.”
The restoration was funded by the Belfast City Council through its Capital Funding Programme, in partnership with the Department of Culture Arts and Leisure, the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Arts Council and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency.
The Ulster Orchestra, under its Principal Conductor, played the World Premiere of Brian Irvine's new work ‘Big Daddy Motorhead’ and the young Belfast pianist Michael McHale was the soloist in Rachmaninov's ‘Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini’.
Ronnie Spence of the Heritage Lottery Fund, which provided almost £1m for the refurbishment, said: "We are especially excited about the community education and outreach elements which the project embraces and we congratulate the Council on its tremendous success.