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Royal Albert Hall announces associate artists programme

The project aims to promote innovation and diversity at the London venue and to increase young people’s engagement with more traditional artforms

A year on from the Royal Albert Hall‘s 150th anniversary, the venue’s four new appointees will create ambitious projects across the worlds of classical music, dance and spoken word.

Organist and conductor Anna Lapwood, choreographer and filmmaker Corey Baker, saxophone player and presenter Jess Gillam and spoken-word performer LionHeart will headline shows, present exclusive commissions and run initiatives for young audiences as part of the scheme.

Lapwood’s involvement will focus on commissioning young female composers, with Baker championing climate action and sustainability. LionHeart’s priority is promoting mental health through immersive spectacle and self-expression, while Gillam hopes to celebrate the potential for music and speech to connect, unify and create communities – particularly with young people.

Anna Lapwood said, ‘To make classical music more accessible, we first have to diversify the repertoire – the Hall’s film music concerts have certainly helped, but we need a new focus on cultivating and commissioning young female composers, and others from diverse backgrounds. Then we need to communicate differently: social media like TikTok is helping to remove many of the socio-economic barriers that have been in the way. And finally, I want aspiring musicians to have the opportunity to play the Hall’s organ. It’s a living, breathing, playable instrument – and people who come here for one-off events don’t always realise that.’

Royal Albert Hall Artistic Director Lucy Noble said: ‘This programme is about shining a light on this historic space – enabling old friends and new audiences to see it in a different way. We’re opening up the stage to these four fantastic artists, making it a place where we can challenge preconceptions, spotlight crucial contemporary issues, and inspire the next generation of creatives.’