Page last updated at 07:12 GMT, Friday, 23 January 2009

Concert hall delights orchestra

By Kevin Leonard
BBC News website

Interior of BBC Hoddinott Hall
BBC Hoddinott Hall will be used for concerts, rehearsals and recordings

Members of the BBC National Orchestra of Wales have taken little time to settle into their new purpose-built home in Cardiff Bay.

They say BBC Hoddinott Hall, named after the late composer Alun Hoddinott, is "amazing" and will make a real difference to the orchestra's sound.

The new venue, at Wales Millennium Centre, opened with a gala concert on Thursday, and will stage another on Friday.

The orchestra had outgrown its previous base at Studio 1 in the BBC studios at Llandaff, Cardiff.

Emilie Godden, who plays first violin in the orchestra, said it was "everything we could ask for in a hall".

"That's one of the things I noticed from the acoustic test - as soon as we were in here, I could hear myself when I was playing really quietly which in the old studio wasn't possible," she said.

Debbie Harrison
I think it's going to be really great being able to do concerts in the place where we rehearse all the time
Debbie Harrison

"As a result we can try to make the sound we really want to make rather than the sound you just get because of the small space.

"It can only be a great thing for the orchestra sound generally and I'm really looking forward to seeing what sound we can make."

Debbie Harrison, in the second violin section, said the orchestra already felt at home as one of the many arts organisations based at the Wales Millennium Centre.

"I think it's going to be really great being able to do concerts in the place where we rehearse all the time," she said.

"It's a place for the orchestra because we have a role not only with the BBC, but for Wales in general.

"It's going to be really great having us here with the WNO [Welsh National Opera] and the dance companies and things as well."

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.

The new venue will be used to rehearse, record and perform more "intimate" concerts, while the Grace Williams Studio at Wales Millennium Centre will provide the base for the orchestra's community work.

Orchestra director David Murray said an orchestra taking possession of its own hall was a "unique and very special experience".

New era

"For the last 25 years, the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales has given concerts at St David's Hall, one of the best concert halls in the UK, and we will continue to do that," he said.

"But we are also a broadcasting orchestra and we need a studio where we work every day."

He said BBC Hoddinott Hall would allow the orchestra to "achieve an almost chamber-like relationship" with its audience.

And for principal conductor Thierry Fischer, he has already noticed the new home putting a spring into the step of the orchestra.

"It's transforming the orchestra's sound, it's transforming the attitude of the players coming to work - I see big eyes, big smiles," he said.

"I work on sounds with the orchestra players and you have the feeling they can hear all the groups. They want to be better and the desire to be better is much stronger in the orchestra."



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SEE ALSO
BBC orchestra moves into new home
22 Jan 09 |  South East Wales

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