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Author Archives: laurastevens

  1. Around the world in 80 Concerts… via live Broadcasts!

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    As lockdown number two comes st(r)eaming around the corner, we are revising our plans once more.  Whilst we’re hugely disappointed that we can’t welcome people back into our building just yet, many of the things we had planned for November and December can, and will, still happen. And those that can’t happen just now will still happen, but just not yet! 

    We will continue our planned musical exploration around the world through concerts which will now be live streamed through our new Stoller Hall Broadcasts programme.  

    Having already started in the UK with the British Horn Society we will hop over the channel to Europe, with Murray McLachlan’s recital of Beethoven Piano Sonatas, celebrating the renowned German composer in Beethoven’s 250th birthday year. Once you’ve booked your virtual seat here you will be able to watch live from 7.30pm on Wednesday 18 November.

    You can catch up on previous live streams through our Broadcasts content hub. The British Horn Society this weekend was brilliant, and the two concerts performed on Sunday are available to watch here.  The fabulous live stream we did with Tasmin Little and Martin Roscoe just a couple of weeks ago is also still available to watch here, as well as our tremendous Birthday Concert. Not to forget, of course, the Song Festival which was bang on theme, with the stunningly beautiful recital by Roderick Williams and Christopher Glynn, themed around …. you guessed it…. Songs of Travel! 

    We will keep going, and we will bring you the finest music from our beautiful space.  And we will welcome audiences back in person again just as soon as we are able to.   

    In the meantime, we continue to plan for our future seasons, and we continue to connect with our audiences and communities, to try and support one another through what is possibly the toughest time our industry has faced.   

    If you are able to make a donation to help us, every penny donated goes to the entire industry. Your incredible support is helping us to provide recording, rehearsal and filming space for performers and young musicians during lockdown. It is also ensuring we’re all still here, ready for you again as soon as we are able to open the doors once more. Donate here.

    For now, though, stay well, stay safe. Watch out for announcements about more virtual, online, around the world travels – on our website and social media channels. You can also sign up to our mailing list here.


    Photograph: Sara Porter Photography

  2. Our Plans

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    The Autumn season has felt like something of a turning point for The Stoller Hall team. As children return to school and people start to head back to their work places, we feel like a cloud is being lifted – and we are turning our attention to exciting future plans.

    The Stoller Hall has been open for just over three years now (celebrated in our wonderful birthday concert). Our initial launch was a quiet one – and we spent our first three years carving out our place as a world class, acoustically brilliant, music venue in Manchester.

    Now, thanks to the invaluable backing of our supporters and funders, we are working our way through the Covid-19 crisis and are planning for the future. So – what do we have planned for The Stoller Hall, I hear you ask…..

    Earlier this month we hosted our very first live stream event! Organised by the Manchester Chamber Concerts Society Martin Roscoe and Tasmin Little performed live from The Stoller Hall, fundraising for Help Musicians UK. You can watch again here.

    In November we will be hosting The British Horn Society for a live recital with Ben Goldscheider and Huw Watkins, an evening of Beethoven Piano Sonatas with Murray McLachlan and an extraordinary day of music-making with the Northern Baroque Orchestra.

    We are also looking forward to welcoming The Lux Trio, performing for both social distanced in-venue audiences and live stream ticket holders! Winners of the 2019 Parkhouse Award, the Trio will be one of the first live European acts in The Stoller Hall programme, on Thursday 26 November. We can’t wait to welcome you back to experience spine-tingling live music again in our fabulous venue.

    If you would like to know more about any of these events, click here to see what’s on.

    Beyond November, we have even more planned! From now until Christmas we will continue to support local musicians to come together to create and rehearse music in our beautiful spaces. We will work with performers – making recordings, performing to small and exclusive audiences, and live streaming incredible music around the world. And we are planning an exciting Christmas project working with schools to deliver workshops in the lead up to a combined virtual live performance in the last week of term.

    We are also busy looking further ahead into 2021, and are in the process of curating a series of classical, folk and jazz music. Our aim is that by Spring 2021 we will be able to throw our doors wide open and invite you to come and enjoy the programme that the team are busily putting together for you.

    It’s exciting times – this feels like the launch of The Stoller Hall all over again!

    And we’re so looking forward to seeing you!


  3. Black Musicians in Classical Music: “That is so white!”

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    Although at first glance, race and music seem to be disparate subjects, on closer inspection they are more interlinked than at first appears.

    Starting classical music from a young age as a person of colour was never anything I considered to be unusual. I never really thought about my skin colour, but sometimes I did wonder why the majority of the musicians in my community were white. I was never affected by this in any way and was always treated the same as the other children, my skin colour only became something I speculated over more when my singing improved, and I was encouraged to venture out of my home town to participate in competitions and ensemble work with young musicians across the country.

    “You should do jazz singing, I bet you’d be so good at it.”

    “You play classical music? That is so white!”

    These are just a few examples of the small degrading comments I have received from white musicians, both of which are very much interlinked with skin colour and heritage, stating that classical music is for white people and jazz is for people of colour. Although this isn’t stated directly, the idea has been passed around for generations through what we learn about culture and history in school, and these types of assumptions become second nature.

    Being the minority in terms of race in an orchestra, choir or any other classical music groups is quite intimidating; you never think you’ll be affected by your race, until it’s something that sets you apart from others. In 2013, a survey by the Arts Council revealed that just 5 percent of professional classical musicians working in the UK identified as Black and Minority Ethnic (BAME). It’s very hard to feel relaxed when ‘all eyes are on you’ just because of your skin colour. Subconsciously, there is a certain expectation for people of colour in classical music to perform at a particularly high standard compared to their Caucasian peers, due to the fact that people of colour are rarely represented in classical music and are usually associated with Jazz, Rap or Pop music.

    Author and screenwriter Candace Allen told her story about how she believes the British classical music world is racist. She talks about how the lack of black musicians in our leading orchestras is down to discrimination, and that black children don’t get exposed to classical music at an early age. She talks about how to encourage black children to get involved in classical music, and believes that change is needed to normalise diversity in these professions. I relate to her story personally because I have encountered similar events as she has and she explains clearly how it feels to be a person of colour in a place where white individuals are favoured. You can read Candace’s story here.

    As we already know, there are many all-white orchestras in the UK but in recent years this has changed; in 2015 the UK’s first all-black orchestra performed at The Southbank centre in London. The Chineke! Orchestra is a British orchestra, the first orchestra in Europe to be made up of majority Black, Asian and ethnically diverse musicians.

    The Chineke! Orchestra is just the beginning of what the future holds for change in our classical music society. White supremacy over classical music should not exist; classical music belongs to everyone!

    – By Elizabeth Mwale (Student, Chetham’s School of Music)

  4. Christmas Stoller Makers’ Market

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    This year, our popular Stoller Makers’ Market will return to The Stoller Hall on Friday 4 and Saturday 5 December.

    We’re on the look out for independent creatives, creators, makers, designers, producers, musicians & artists who would be interested in holding their stall at our Virtual Market.

    We want to support independent traders so this year all our Stall spaces will be available for free, but we would encourage you to make a donation to The Stoller Hall Fund if you are able to. We will also be working with traders to hold a silent auction, with more details to be announced soon.

    If you are interested in featuring and selling your work at the Stoller Makers’ Market, please email us by 20 November 2020 with a short description of what you would like to feature, along with any links to social media that you might like to point us to. We will contact everyone after this date to confirm whether or not you have been successful in your application for a stall.

  5. The Stoller Hall receives Culture Recovery Fund (CRF) Grant

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    We are delighted to announce that we have been awarded £150,000 as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund (CRF), to help us weather the storm of the Coronavirus pandemic. 

    HUGE HUGE thanks to Arts Council England and Government for recognising the importance of our sector and our role within it – as the only smaller-scale chamber concert hall outside of London! 

    The urgently needed support has been announced today as part of the very first round of the Culture Recovery Fund grants and the funding will help protect our special venue, secure the jobs of the core team and help us to play our part in the culture sector’s long road to recovery. 

    We’re sorry that not all of our friends and partners have been successful, but we will work together to get through this! As a live music venue in the heart of one of the UK’s biggest cities, we’re part of an ecosystem which has musicians and artists athe heart of it – without them our venue would be empty! 

    Going forward, the funding will help us to plan more socially distanced events over the Autumn and into Spring 2021, prepare for our relaunch as soon as it is safe to do so, and solidify our future as one of the greatest concert halls in the UK. But the struggle doesn’t end here, whilst we remain closed for public events there is still a shortfall from ticket sales that we need to fill. We want to support musicians and artists to be able to record and rehearse and to ensure we can reopen our beautiful venue again safely. Donate Here

    Commenting on the news, Fran Healey, General Manager said: “The Stoller Hall has brought some amazing music experiences to audiences, and in three short years has become a much-loved venue! The funding will help us to continue our journey in becoming one of Manchester’s finest music destinations and we’re looking forward to the day we can welcome you back. But there are still challenges ahead; We’re eagerly awaiting news of the Government’s new lockdown restrictions and how that will affect our industry and are looking for ways we can generate income and raise funds whilst we’re closed, during these challenging times.” 

    Keep up to date here with our events programme here.

    Or sign up to our mailing list for the latest news.

  6. Let Music Live

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    Tuesday 6 October: 12:00 Parliament Square, London Centenary Square, Birmingham

    400 freelance professional musicians from all parts of the industry will be joined in support by leading musical figures including David Hill, Raphael Wallfisch, Emma Johnson and Tasmin Little, to perform in Parliament Square and Centenary Square, Birmingham, shining a light on the need for targeted support for freelance musicians and all those who work in the arts and entertainment sector. They are also joined in solidarity by the Musicians’ Union, The Musicians’ Answering Service, Emily Eavis and more.

    Conducted by renowned director David Hill in Parliament Square, the freelance musicians will perform a short section of ‘Mars’ from Holst’s The Planets before standing in silence for two minutes. The 20% of the piece that they will perform represents the maximum 20% support that freelancers receive from the government through the SEISS grant. The two-minute silence represents the 45% of musicians currently not covered by the SEISS grant (MU). The event will be Covid-safe, adhering strictly to social distancing regulations, facilitated by support from #WeMakeEvents.

    Covid restrictions have disproportionately impacted the music and events industries, resulting in an almost total loss of opportunity to work. Investment is essential so that freelance musicians can continue to support the intricate network of businesses that rely on arts and events for their footfall.

    The arts and culture industry contributes £10.8 billion a year directly to the UK economy (ONS), with growth in creative industries previously running at five times that of the rest of the economy. With effective short-term support, freelance musicians will continue to make a positive impact.

    For every £1 directly spent on music and events, an extra £2 is generated in the wider economy (ACE), powering a network of businesses across the country. Supporting freelance musicians means supporting the wider economy.

    The music sector is a world-leading asset to the UK and its highly-skilled professionals are regarded as the world’s finest, in particular in recording award-winning film scores. The UK’s breadth and diversity of concerts, events, festivals and gigs is globally renowned, bringing life to towns and cities and attracting over 40% of inbound tourist spend (ACE), providing inspiration and joy to everyone through work in the community, from schools to care homes.


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    In partnership with our friends The Manchester Chamber Concerts Society, we will be live streaming Tasmin Little and Martin Roscoe performing live from The Stoller Hall on Tuesday 13 October.

    This will be our first performance on The Stoller Hall stage since we closed our doors in March.

    The performance will be live streamed digitally on our Broadcasts page and via the Manchester Chamber Concerts Society website here from 7.30pm.


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    Russell Watson, KT Tunstall, Pet Shop Boys and Passenger have pledged to play gigs for ‘Passport: Back to Our Roots’, the campaign to raise money for grassroots music venues at risk of closure. Two further artists will be announced on BBC Radio 6 Music during the station’s ‘State Of Independents Day’ on Thursday September 10th.

    Classical singer Russell Watson said: “Grassroots venues were crucial in the development of my career. I spent almost nine years in the working men’s clubs in the North West of England before my touring career as a recording artiste. It’s heart-breaking to see so many of these venues – which are the fabric of our communities, where people gather to drink, procrastinate and be entertained – under such huge financial strain. Entertainment is essential to the U.K. It’s fundamentally crucial in driving a large part of our nation’s economy but also in the employment of hundreds of thousands of incredibly talented people – from lighting engineers to prima donnas. This is a time for us all to reflect on just what the entertainment industry means to us and to keep it alive during these most unprecedented times.

    I’ve chosen Manchester’s Stoller Hall, a small but beautiful and intimate venue, to perform a free concert in aid of Passport: Back to Our Roots. Please come and join me.”

    Fran Healey, General Manager of The Stoller Hall, said: “I can’t wait to welcome Russell Watson back to Manchester, as soon as live music returns to our stage and our lives. Hearing such a special voice in our acoustically perfect, spine-tingly intimate venue will be something to remember for a long time. There is no finer venue in the country to experience choral and classical chamber music than The Stoller Hall, so to have closed our doors this year has been heart-breaking… but to all our classical and choral music lovers, we’re as excited as you are!”

    Also performing will be Pet Shop Boys at Camden’s Electric Ballroom, Passenger at Brighton’s Komedia, and KT Tunstall who will be playing at two venues – Windmill Brixton and PJ Molloys in Dunfermline. The artists will be playing these celebratory intimate shows, on dates to be confirmed, when venues are able to open with no social distancing.

    Entry to the shows will be via a prize draw which will run until Monday 26 October. For a £5 minimum donation to the campaign, music fans will be entered into the draw to win passes to the show of their choice for themselves and a guest.

    Enter Here

    Watch the ITV News Preview below

  9. Grassroots Music Funding

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    Saturday 22 August 2020

    The Stoller Hall will receive a £7,500 grant as part of the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund, the Culture Secretary has announced today.

    £3.36 million will be shared between 135 music venues including The Stoller Hall. In response to the demand for help from some of the hardest hit in the sector, an additional £1.1 million was accelerated by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport to help as many venues as quickly as possible.

    CEO, Arts Council England, Darren Henley, said:

    “This much-welcomed emergency investment from the government into grassroots music venues will have a profoundly positive impact on England’s music ecology, and today’s news will mean a great deal to the many artists, audiences and communities they serve across the country. I’m pleased that the Arts Council has been able to use its expertise to administer this fund, ensuring that we are supporting music venues in these challenging times.”

    The short term grant will help support The Stoller Hall until the end of September 2020, whilst we wait to hear the outcome of our application to the Culture Recovery Fund.

    Following the Covid-19 crisis, the Arts Council developed a £160 million Emergency Response Package, with nearly 90% coming from the National Lottery, for organisations and individuals needing support. They are also one of the bodies administering the Government’s unprecedented £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Funds. Find out more here.


    There is no ticket income for our digital broadcasts, because our beautiful venue The Stoller Hall is empty. Please help us to keep the music alive by donating what you can. Every gift is very much appreciated. Thank you.


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    12 AUGUST 2020

    In recent weeks, we have used these pages to inform you of the devastating effect of Covid-19, which has taken away our income.

    This week, we have concluded the heart-breaking redundancy consultations with the wonderful team of people who have so skilfully delivered our much loved programme of live events since The Stoller Hall first opened its doors three years ago.

    We’re devastated to confirm that with no live music events – and no income from those events – we have been unable to secure the roles of our flexible-contract staff who brilliantly help to facilitate those live concerts. For our organisation to lose such passionate, talented and dedicated people is devastating.

    This decision is made even more upsetting by the fact that this is occurring right across our sector, but we hope to see our colleagues back in the industry again once live music returns. Until then, we eagerly await news of funding opportunities from the Government’s pledged spending commitments for the music industry.

    Thank you to each and every person, organisation and funding body who has supported us so far, in our hour of need. This support has, in part, helped us to retain every member of our small core team – either in their existing roles or in alternative roles elsewhere in the wider organisation.

    This enables us to continue to plan for the future, with a view to bringing live music back to our audiences in 2021. This is an important decision, which helps to safeguard the immediate future of The Stoller Hall.

    By maintaining our small forward planning team, we have been able to ensure that our venue hire facilities are now Covid-Safe, open and fully functioning as high spec recordings and rehearsal space. This return to Covid-Safe income making activities is not only critical to our financial position, but also provides a vital service to the rest of the music industry in the region.

    The Stoller Hall is a spectacular, special venue, with unrivalled acoustics. It offers an unforgettable experience for audiences and performers alike. Covid-19 struck at a time when the venue was delivering it’s best financial performance to date. We believe these incredibly difficult steps have safeguarded the venue’s future, as a unique, much loved part of the live music scene.

    24 JULY 2020

    Over the last three years we’ve experienced some incredible live music on our stage. Our last concert before lockdown, with Sheku Kanneh-Mason and Guy Johnston, was as good as it gets.

    But like many other music venues, we’re going through the most difficult time.

    We are working around the clock to fight this; to find new ways to weather the storm; to develop Covid-safe operating models; and to come out stronger on the other side of this global crisis.

    Meanwhile, we’re supporting the music industry by working with Manchester’s musicians, enabling them to rehearse and record safely in The Stoller Hall. This generates some small income for us, but it is not enough to keep us going forever.

    We’re looking at other hybrid events and partnerships that will enable Manchester’s independent music scene to keep going, in a world where nothing is certain.

    We know that live music will return eventually but, for now, not as we know it. For some time, our programme and level of activity will be very different as we adjust to the new live events world.

    We know we cannot deliver a full programme of live events until 2021. With no certainty of when we will be able to welcome full-capacity audiences back to the venue, heart-breaking redundancy consultations continue with The Stoller Hall’s passionate, talented, live events team.

    In the meantime, we eagerly await news of how the Government’s £1.57bn package will be distributed across the sector.

    And, as a charity, we are reaching out to all our friends, partners and audiences to ask for your urgent help too. A donation of any amount would be gratefully received and will help to make sure that our venue remains open and we come back stronger when the time is right.

    Donate here

    We also thank everyone who has supported us so far. Every donation is making a difference.

    Thank you!

    3 JULY 2020

    We are devastated to announce that The Stoller Hall has begun redundancy consultations with some of the venue’s dedicated staff, as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

    This has been a heart-breaking process for everyone. To each and every one of us, The Stoller Hall is not just a job, but a passion.

    We have little choice but to take measures now, in order to ensure our much-loved venue can continue to operate post-lockdown, once it is safe to do so. These measures are, however, extremely upsetting.

    Only weeks ago we celebrated our third birthday as a vital, unique part of the region’s music scene. When we opened The Stoller Hall doors in 2017, the venue was hailed as the UK’s finest music venue of its kind, acoustically, for classical chamber music.

    We have been growing our revenue year on year, and prior to lockdown we had achieved our best financial period to date.

    Covid-19 has stopped this progress in its tracks, and devastated our venue finances.

    The government’s furlough scheme has been vital to us and our staff in recent weeks, but this is reducing from next month, and is due to come to an end in October. There are no other financial support packages currently available to us from the UK Government.

    Therefore, without live music ticket sales, bar spend and our other revenue streams, we are making no income. As a result, we have had no choice but to begin these most upsetting redundancy conversations with our loyal, creative and dedicated team of people who work in front of and behind the scenes at The Stoller Hall to bring live music to our audiences.

    The Stoller Hall is the live music and concert venue arm of Chetham’s School of Music, with whom we share some of our purpose built facilities in Manchester city centre. As well as providing a remarkable venue for hosting the world’s leading classical, folk, jazz and contemporary artists, our relationship with Chetham’s creates special opportunities for some of the UK’s best developing young musicians to perform in front of live audiences.

    It is important that we emphasise that this announcement does not impact any of the school’s students, teachers or support staff. The school – which has continued to teach students through an incredible remote learning programme – is able to ensure that all its teaching and support staff roles are secure.

    The Stoller Hall team are heartbroken to be unable to provide the same guarantees to our live events team. We will fight all the way to find solutions to avoid redundancies wherever possible but we will need help.

    In recent weeks we have been incredibly thankful to everyone who has supported us by donating to The Stoller Hall emergency fund and supported our campaigns to generate funds.

    If you are able to offer us any more support, you can do so here. Every donation makes a difference to our ability to protect jobs, helping us to bring live music back to our audiences when it is safe to do so.

    Most importantly, we plead with the government to urgently provide our sector with a financial support package. We aren’t the first live performance venue or arts organisation to announce news like this, and we won’t be the last. Without public support the future of performing arts and live music in this country is uncertain.