A brand-new performance space in the heart of Westside has been given the royal seal of approval.
HRH The Earl of Wessex was a special visitor to Symphony Hall to officially open the B:Music venue’s new Jennifer Blackwell Performance Space.
The Prince was greeted by B:Music’s chief executive Nick Reed, together with former BBC journalist Anita Bhalla, who is now chair of B:Music’s board,
He then unveiled a portrait in the Jennifer Blackwell Performance Space and a plaque commemorating his visit, before touring the new facility.
During his stay on 16 September, the Prince was entertained by Rise Up, a B:Music initiative where world-renowned jazz musicians mentor talented local female performers, who also get access to rehearsal space and a platform to showcase their talent through concerts.
The Rise Up ensemble were selected by a panel of experts including jazz artists Trish Clowes, Alica Gardener-Trejo and Yazz Ahmed.
Rise Up member Jasmine Belle said, “It was surreal to play for such a high-profile figure and, of course, it was lovely to invite new people in to enjoy and appreciate the new spaces in the building.”
Fellow member Katie Grayland added, “It was a fantastic opportunity performing and meeting Prince Edward with the ensemble.”
The new performance space is dedicated to the memory of Jennifer Blackwell who had a lifelong passion for music and enjoyed visiting Symphony Hall. Funding for the space came from The Blackwell Trust set up in her name.
The new performance facilities, designed by an award-winning team at Page\Park Architects, has provided Symphony Hall with a major increase in spaces for performance and learning, supporting the local community’s musical discoveries.
Symphony Hall now has a dedicated entrance from Centenary Square, with a new café greeting visitors as well as expanded bars and relaxed seating.
Following the Prince’s visit, Westside BID’s own ‘princesses’ Luisa Huggins and Elaine Weir attended the venue to celebrate the completion of the Making an Entrance project, with live music performances by Casey Bailey and Rueben Reynolds.
They joined many other guests on Friday 24 September, including various top names, such as West Midlands mayor Andy Street.
Luisa Huggins, the BID’s media manager, said: “It was an honour to see the transformation of the venue, and we are incredibly pleased to have this treasure in Westside.
“We are confident that this will be the start of a very successful journey for the organisation and they have our full support.”
And Elaine Weir, the BID’s business liaison manager, added: “The launch event was a great success and I firmly believe that this will be the taster of all things yet to come”.
By Westside BID reporters