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BBC orchestra moves into new home

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Architect Tim Green shows Sian Lloyd around BBC Hoddinott Hall

The first concerts are being staged to mark the opening of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales' new Cardiff Bay home.

BBC Hoddinott Hall at Wales Millennium Centre, named after the late composer Alun Hoddinott, seats some 350 people.

The orchestra had outgrown its previous home of more than 40 years, Studio 1 at the BBC studios in Llandaff, Cardiff.

The orchestra, which performs gala concerts on Thursday and Friday, will also have a base for community work.

BBC Wales controller Menna Richards said the purpose-built BBC Hoddinott Hall was an "acknowledgement" that music and arts played an important role in how Wales defined itself as a nation.

If there is one small sadness, it is that the composer Alun Hoddinott... will not be with us
David Murray, orchestra director

"Since the BBC National Orchestra of Wales was formed 80 years ago, it has brought not only the classics to Wales but given a platform to its emerging composers," she said.

"It is a great occasion, not only for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, but for music in Wales - an acknowledgement that music and the arts sit at the centre of what Wales is about and how we define ourselves as a nation."

Mr Hoddinott formed a partnership with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales which spanned seven decades.

He played a major role in the development of music in Wales not just as a composer, but also as professor of music at Cardiff University and as an organiser of festivals and concerts.

ORCHESTRA FACTFILE
BBC National Orchestra of Wales
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales has more than 80 full-time members
Soundtracks and incidental music on Doctor Who were recorded by the orchestra
Concerts are broadcast on BBC Radio 3, BBC Cymru Wales radio and television, and BBC Four
The orchestra is performing in at least 27 different venues this season
In 2007, orchestra members going on tour to the USA were "guinea pigs" for an IT system collecting fingerprints needed for their visas
Principal conductor Thierry Fischer spent the first 10 years of his life in Africa, where his Swiss parents worked as missionaries
The education and community department reaches, on average, 11,000 participants each year

Artwork commissioned by BBC Wales is sited at the entrance to the hall to commemorate Mr Hoddinott's life and work.

Orchestra director David Murray, said: "If there is one small sadness, it is that the composer Alun Hoddinott, who died last March and would have celebrated his 80th birthday in 2009, will not be with us.

"I knew Alun well during his last years, and his passion for excellence and belief in an international place for Wales in the musical world is, I hope, also reflected in our own hopes and aspirations for the future."

The orchestra, which tours around the world, will continue to perform major concerts at St David's Hall in Cardiff and Swansea's Brangwyn Hall.

BBC Hoddinott Hall will be used to perform more "intimate" concerts, while the Grace Williams Studio at the Wales Millennium Centre will provide the base for the orchestra's community work.

Tim Green of architects Capital Architecture said the exterior of the building was designed to be in keeping with the existing Wales Millennium Centre while the interior had a theme all of its own.

"We went for a sort of chapel feel - the choral traditions of Wales just seemed to ring true. As you will see, in this space it is those sort of proportions, shoebox proportions," he said.

"The timber treatment at low level is very reminiscent of Victorian chapels and the masonry above. The stonework you would normally get in a stone chapel has been replaced by concrete."

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