Originally built in 1763 and named after the patron saint of music, St. Cecilia’s Hall is the oldest purpose-built concert hall in Scotland, and the second oldest in the British Isles. At the heart of this Georgian building is its concert room, surrounded by three galleries that house one of the world's most important collections of historic musical instruments, many of which are still playable in a concert setting.
Yet time, architectural intervention and urban development have hidden away this exceptional Georgian treasure and the rare collections it contains. The University’s vision is to restore and renovate the building and its facilities in order to preserve the Collection and broaden its appeal to a wider public.
The £6.5m restoration and renovation of St Cecilia’s Hall will enable us to offer increased performances, longer opening hours to the museum and provide new ways to experience its world-class collection of instruments. It will also attract further scholarship and research and ensure the future of this outstanding building and its collection for generations to come.
St Cecilia’s Hall currently holds the University of Edinburgh’s world class collection of historic musical instruments, notably early keyboards and plucked string instruments. With its sister collection at the Reid Concert Hall, Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments (EUCHMI) ranks among the world's most important collections of musical heritage. It has official Recognised Collection of National Significance to Scotland status. As part of the Redevelopment Project the two collections will be brought together as one, creating a single visitor destination at St Cecilia’s Hall.
The c. 4000 objects in the permanent collection constitute a rich resource, and include many models of musical instruments spanning over 500 years, together with prized rare and unique items.
In December, the St Cecilia’s Hall Redevelopment Project received first round funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
John Scally, Director of Library & Collections, said:
“As Scotland’s oldest concert hall and home to one of the greatest collections of historical musical instruments, the St Cecilia’s Hall Redevelopment will restore and transform this unique building and make its internationally recognised collection available to the wider public from Scotland and beyond. We are delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund has agreed to support the project and share in our vision to make available one of the city’s most unique hidden treasures.”
Colin McLean, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in Scotland, said:
“The University of Edinburgh's collection of musical instruments is regarded as one of the finest in the world. HLF applauds its aspiration to bring this unique collection under one roof so that many more people can study, perform and enjoy it.
“We are also delighted to give our initial support to the transformation of Scotland’s oldest purpose-built concert hall. St Cecilia’s Hall will have new life breathed into it as people explore the music that Scots have made over the centuries, while its new modern gallery will ensure that the collection is kept safe for future generations.”
This article was published on Feb 19, 2013