Two Birmingham-based musicians have been commissioned to create brand-new music which scores an incredible video of Symphony Halls' £13.2 million transformation. Isla Wolfe and Surdarshan Singh have collaborated for the first time on this two-minute track, fusing hip-hop and tabla percussion. The music accompanies a video produced by time lapse photographers, Commission Air, which shows the changes to the venue's front of house spaces overlooking Centenary Square.
Music is at the heart of the redeveloped public spaces in Birmingham's internationally renowned concert hall. Upon re-opening the new state-of-the-art performance facilities, delivered with funds raised prior to the global pandemic, will offer local artists even more opportunities to make music as part of an exciting programme of free and affordable events and activities.
Singer-songwriter and producer Isla Wolfe said: "Honestly I felt really honoured when I was asked to be a part of this because it felt like a real opportunity to represent my hometown. I have SO MUCH love for this city and to me, Town Hall and Symphony Hall are right at the heart of it. I've been to lots of different events at these venues ever since I was a kid so to be involved in creating music for the project has been amazing."
Tabla player Surdarshan Singh said: "I am thankful for this opportunity. It is such an honour do this for Symphony Hall. I love to play in different genres and explore different ways of playing this classical instrument."
Isla Wolfe is an unsigned artist, writer and producer based in Birmingham, United Kingdom. Growing up in a family of musicians, Isla spent her younger years immersed in the live music industry and this inspired her to start singing and teaching herself to play every instrument she could get her hands on. Influenced mainly by neo soul, R&B, trap and hip-hop, Isla is producing, writing, recording and engineering her own music completely independently.
Following her release of 'All About You' featuring Phundo Art, she released her latest single “Better Days” in late 2020. 'Better Days' has received overwhelming support from BBC Introducing in the Midlands, as well as national radio station, BBC 6 Music with Tom Robinson.
Surdarshan Singh (Sunny) is a young, masterful Tabla & Jori player who started learning music at the tender age of 4. He started learning Jori-Pakhawaj and tabla from Punjab Grandmaster Ajit Singh Matlashi and then went on to learn from Ustad Gurmeet Singh Virdee.
After receiving a solid foundation and feel of the Punjab Gharana and its various Pakhawaj styles, Surdarshan went on to learn from the legendary Shiri Sukhvinder Singh Namdhari for 14 years. He vigorously learned and practiced the fierce Benares Gharana style of tabla, while keeping his Punjabi Baaj of Jori-Pakhawaj very much alive.
Surdarshan Singh received his degree in Classical Music and is now an enthralling soloist.
He performs nationally and internationally accompanying maestros of international repute across the globe representing his country. He is also one of the leading accompanists and soloists in the UK.
He was recently invited to play at the Buckingham Palace to play a very rare percussive instrument called jori in the queens music room. For the first time, Birmingham’s world-renowned concert hall now boasts a dedicated entrance from Centenary Square – which is itself is undergoing major redevelopment to provide a high-quality public realm within the second city.
David Stanley of D Stanley Consulting said: "It’s been an absolute privilege of ours at D Stanley Consulting to deliver Project Management and Contract Administration services to the music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall on this project. A huge thank you goes out to the design team, contractors and the client team who have all worked seamlessly together to deliver the scheme. It has been truly wonderful to be involved with the redevelopment of this world class venue, something I hope the city of Birmingham will be proud of."
Simon Courtney, Managing Director of Galliford Try West Midlands and South West commented: "It’s great to see Symphony Hall being showcased in this way, allowing people to see the excellent work of the project team at this time when we still under pandemic restrictions. We all hope that in the near future more people are able to utilise the new facilities in what is a fantastic venue for the local region."
Neil Hooton, (Project Director) at Arup, said: “Arup were the original design engineers of the Symphony Hall in the late 80s, so we were immensely proud to reprise our role and help create this exciting new addition to a Birmingham landmark, and one of the world’s most renowned concert halls. We designed a visually simple structural solution to realise the striking curved and stepped façade profile which will provide better accessibility, creating an enhanced sense of community. The reoriented and revitalised entrance has not only opened up the space, but created a destination in its own right.”
PMP are Quantity Surveyors and Project Managers based in Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter. They have been helping clients to successfully deliver building and construction projects across a broad range of sectors within the UK and internationally, since 1985.
Matt Giblin, Associate at PMP Consultants added: "PMP Consultants have been proud to have been a part of this stand-out scheme for the wider Birmingham community and the music charity responsible for Town Hall and Symphony Hall. Whilst the pandemic provided numerous challenges on and off-site, a highly collaborative team effort brought this project to successful completion and the resulting new entrance speaks for itself and is a worthy addition to Centenary Square."
Max Fordham LLP were appointed as environmental building services engineering consultants, pioneering sustainable design and low-carbon engineering. Mark Palmer, Senior Partner for Max Fordham LLP said: "As building services engineers, we at Max Fordham are proud to have played our part in designing the M&E strategies for the transformative development of Symphony Hall.
“The new facade and building systems provide a more sustainable, accessible and flexible venue, ready to accommodate a diverse range of events. The existing mechanical and electrical systems have been refurbished and expanded with improved control and energy efficiency.
“This includes upgraded heating and ventilation systems to create comfortable and healthy environments for staff and visitors. A dynamic new low-energy lighting scheme enhances the new foyer, hosting rooms and performance area. We are excited to see the transformed Symphony Hall reopen and welcome audiences once again." ARK Health and Safety Consultants specialise in CDM and Health & Safety Consultancy for all sizes of projects.
Andrew Roede, Director at ARK H&S Consultants Ltd commented: "It was a pleasure being part of such a prestigious project and the end result is clear to see for all, what a wonderful refurbishment."