Albert Hall seeks cool fix as promenaders wilt

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 26, 2013 10:34 AM

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's heatwave has prompted the Royal Albert Hall to review its ventilation systems after soaring temperatures at the Summer season of Promenade concerts left both musicians and spectators "dripping with sweat".

Classical music fans who this week attended a performance of Wagner's Das Rheingold were wilting after the three-hour long performance in an auditorium which Twitter user Penny Murphy described as "hot as Hades".

Performers were also left red-faced in their formal tail-coats and ties, when temperatures in London reached a high of 33.5C (92.3F) on Monday.

Britain has been basking in its longest heatwave for seven years and the mercury is expected to stay high next week.

BBC trumpeter Gary Farr who played at the Proms on Thursday night, said: "The tail-coats are not ideal. We're acutely aware we're getting red-faced and dripping with sweat live on camera!"

But some musicians embraced the sense of occasion the formal wear brought to the event.

Pianist Joseph Middleton said he preferred to wear concert dress for the Proms, despite the discomfort.

"I like the feeling of putting on something smart that you wouldn't wear at other times," he told BBC Radio.

The Royal Albert Hall was opened by Queen Victoria in 1871 and, with seated and standing areas, has a maximum capacity of around 5,200 people. It has been holding the annual Promenade concerts since 1941.

"We share the customer concerns in regard to the heat within the auditorium during the hot weather and we are acutely aware of this issue," said spokesman Sean Carrigan.

Plans to replace the current Victorian heating systems over the next two to three years were due to start in the autumn, he said, which would help regulate the temperature and improve the ventilation to the auditorium.

"We are increasingly looking at the advancement and upkeep of the Hall for the public benefit and we are working towards a long term solution to address this issue" Carrigan added.

(Reporting by Li-mei Hoang; editing by Stephen Addison)