Arts Centre Melbourne is asking for members of the community to share their remarkable experiences and treasured memories of Hamer Hall to celebrate its 40th year.
To mark this milestone, Arts Centre Melbourne will unearth stories of Hamer Hall (originally called the Melbourne Concert Hall) and spotlight interviews with those who have had unique connections to the venue – from those that built its memorable walls, to performers on its stage, and audience members who delight in the performances year after year.
The first interview, released today, features Vicki Fairfax, whose late husband George Fairfax AM was the first General Manager of Arts Centre Melbourne (then known as the Victorian Arts Centre), and who is also the author of the history book, A Place Across the River.
In November 1982, the Melbourne Concert Hall (later Hamer Hall) opened its doors for the first time. It quickly became the premier venue for musical performance in Victoria and has continued to provide cultural and memorable performances, events and moments for the community.
Arts Centre Melbourne CEO Karen Quinlan AM:
With its long and memorable history Hamer Hall holds great meaning for so many and every story is unique. We welcome all stories, no matter how small or great, and I can’t wait to hear more about what this historic venue means to our community.
Community members can share their fondest memory or interesting story of Hamer Hall here.
Some quick facts about Hamer Hall:
- Construction of the Melbourne Concert Hall begun in the early 1970s and it took more than a decade to open its doors to the public. The opening day was packed with family activities, and a formal evening concert on 6 November 1982 starring pianist Geoffrey Tozer, Melbourne Chorale Continuing Choir, Band of the Third Military District and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. There were speeches made by Minister for the Arts at the time, Race Matthews and Victorian Premiers, Rupert Hamer (who inspired Hamer Hall’s name change during its renovation in 2010) and John Cain.
- Nearly a year after the opening night, Hamer Hall hosted the Royal Gala concert on 14 April, 1983. The Prince and Princess of Wales, Charles and Diana, were on a royal tour of Australia and attended the televised gala concert.
- When visitors enter Hamer Hall they may feel they have stepped into an underground cave – one of several nods to Australia’s resources industry. Designer John Truscott thought up the idea while driving through a basalt cutting in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. He worked with theatre scenery artists Paul Kathner and Ross Turner, who spent 18 months spray painting Hamer Hall’s bare concrete walls with layers of paint to create the incredible subterranean feel. Kathner and Turner went on to create Melbourne-based Scenic Studios, which continues to make theatrical scenic art and backdrops today.
- With its walls painted in colours and patterns that reflect Australia’s gemstone deposits and giving the impression the building was carved out of a hillside, the historic venue continues to delight. It is estimated that around 25 million people have walked through Hamer Hall’s doors since it opened to soak up the wonder of the performing arts.
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Photo Credit: Mark Gambino