TRAVIS frontman Fran Healy led the celebrations yesterday as one of Scotland’s oldest and most historic music halls reopened its doors after a £9 million restoration.

The event was part of a packed programme of free performances to mark the first day of opening at Aberdeen Music Hall, with Texas lined up to play next Sunday and KT Tunstall, The Vamps and comedians Nish Kumar and Rhod Gilbert all part of the A-listed building’s first new season.

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It is nearly 200 years since the foundation stone of the building was laid in 1820 and famous names who have appeared there include Charles Dickens, the Halle Orchestra and American film actor, singer and civil rights campaigner Paul Robeson.

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Designed by architect James Matthews, who was responsible for many of Aberdeen’s landmark buildings, the music hall walls are decorated with murals by renowned Scottish artist Robert Douglas Strachan and are the only surviving examples of his early decorative work. The hall also boasts an organ made by Henry Willis, the foremost organ builder of the Victorian era. At the time it was built it was the largest of its kind in Scotland.

Yesterday saw Healy lead the 100-strong Music Hall Community Choir in a rendition of Sing before joining Jane Spiers, chief executive of Aberdeen Performing Arts, the charity behind the transformation, and chair Craig Pike to cut a giant cake in the shape of the music hall.

“We chose Sing because it is uplifting, iconic and all about the restorative power of music, so just perfect for this forever moment in a venue that has been the soundtrack to city life for nearly two centuries,” said Spiers. “We are delighted Fran Healy accepted our invitation to join us.”

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The building has been closed since 2016 to allow the renovations to take place and Spiers said the transformation had been a “labour of love”.

“We set out to create a fit-for-purpose, inspirational space for the next generation of artists and audiences and finally the moment has come to say welcome them back to the music hall, lovingly renovated, re-imagined and once again at the heart of cultural and community life,” she said.

Pike said it had been “a hugely ambitious and complex project”.

“What has been achieved is incredible thanks to a great team of committed professionals who believed in the project and have always gone the extra mile – our architects BDP, our contractor Kier Construction, project managers Axiom and the determination and vision of the team at Aberdeen Performing Arts,” he said.

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The Nevis Ensemble, Scotland’s street orchestra, played on the steps of the music hall as young ambassadors opened the doors to the public yesterday morning. During the day there were performances from Big Noise Torry who held their Christmas concert, a special performance of Emeli Sande’s Read All About It from Orchard Brae school for young people with additional support needs along with Drake Music Scotland musician Abi Sinar, an intergenerational project led by Scottish Opera, performances from young people from Aberdeen Performing Arts youth theatre, Project Band, Sound Collective, and City Moves.

The ambitious project has seen the 200-year-old venue undergo extensive excavations below ground to create a new lower level and free up space within the existing footprint of the building.

This single move has resulted in a new performance studio, a “creative learning” studio, a new cafe bar, a restaurant, the Stepping In digital arts space and a relocated box office and reception.

The music hall auditorium has been restored and renovated with new flooring, staging, seating, technical upgrades and refurbished artist accommodation backstage.

Spiers said the music hall had added a string to its bow with a new exhibition and digital arts space which had given it the “wow factor”.

The first commission for the new floor-to-ceiling LED screen is Meet Me At The Music Hall, inspired by concerts and events down the years. Running alongside, the new exhibition In Love In The Music Hall features 12 poems inspired by music, which have been illustrated by artist Andrew Cranston. The title of the exhibition is taken from a line in Scottish Makar Jackie Kay’s poem whose birth parents met at the venue.

The works have also resulted in vastly improved access from street to seat with new lifts and ramps to allow everyone, including people with restricted mobility, to access all levels from basement to balcony for the first time in the building’s history.