Designed without compromise as an ideal concert hallThe Observer
The Anvil was built by a far-sighted and ambitious Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, understanding the huge economic and social impact building a word-class concert hall would have on Basingstoke.
Work started in August 1992 and the building opened in May 1994, with a pre-opening concert given by the band D:Ream (including a young Brian Cox). The concert hall was officially opened on 3 May 1994 with a concert given by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra conducted by Richard Hickox, with Julian Lloyd Webber as soloist. The programme included the world premiere of Sir John Tavener’s Theophany, as well as Elgar’s Cello Concerto and Enigma Variations, and was broadcast live on BBC Radio 3.
"A regional venue worth the journey" The Times
Some highlights of the programme include Barbara Windsor performing as Fairy Godmother in The Anvil's first pantomime (Cinderella, alongside Allo Allo's Gordon Kaye and children's television stalwarts Bodger and Badger). Other prominent performances include Elvis Costello, Don McLean and Rufus Wainwright.
In 2007, Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council asked The Anvil Trust to take on managing and operating The Haymarket, as well as The Anvil. After refurbishment of the box office and front of house areas, The Haymarket reopened in September. Among the first productions was Cyrano de Bergerac, directed by Guy Slater - the first Artistic Director of the Horseshoe/Haymarket Theatre Company in the 1970s.
"The acoustics seemed to me well nigh ideal"
To mark The Anvil's 25th Birthday on 3 May 2019, a wonderful gala concert was given by the Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Martyn Brabbins, with Sheku Kanneh-Mason as soloist. The programme included the world premiere of Samantha Fernando's Breathing Space, co-commissioned by Anvil Arts and the Philharmonia Orchestra, and, in a nod to that opening concert in 1994, Elgar's Cello Concerto and Enigma Variations.
The world-class quality of the acoustic was the prime consideration throughout the building process. The shape of the auditorium, volume of air, number of seats and even thickness of the seat coverings were all taken into account. The architects were the Arts Team at RHWL, and the acoustic engineers were Arup Acoustics. The results were outstanding.
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Celebrating The Anvil's 25th birthday, 2019
It boasts acoustics as warm as an Italian courtyardThe Times
The acoustics [offer] a commendable combination of warmth and clarityThe Independent