The Hallé Orchestra to pay musical tribute to Manchester's legendary Free Trade Hall


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The world’s oldest professional orchestra is to pay homage to Manchester's old Free Trade Hall, a venue which has hosted some of the definitive moments in British classical, pop and rock music history - including the punk gig which influenced the formation of bands including The Smiths, Joy Division and The Fall.

A new seven-minute arrangement for the Hallé Orchestra will showcase Manchester’s illustrious pop heritage on the site where the Sex Pistols played in June 1976.

The sparsely attended performance, organised by members of the Buzzcocks, has since attained legendary status. The few dozen people in the audience included Morrissey, Bernard Sumner and Mark E Smith. Their experience ignited the punk and new wave revolution and set in train the city’s future as a global centre of musical creativity in the 1980s and 90s.

As well as bringing punk to the provinces, the Free Trade Hall hosted the notorious performance by an electric guitar-strumming Bob Dylan during which he was denounced as “Judas” by outraged duffel-coated folkies in 1966.

The venue, built on the site of the Peterloo Massacre to commemorate the passing of the Corn Laws, was also the home of the Hallé, which performed its first concert there in 1858 under the baton of its founder.

The Hall now forms the entrance and restaurant of the luxury hotel, the Radisson Blu Edwardian, which commissioned the piece to mark its 10th anniversary, when it will be played for the first time.

Composer Paul Campbell said that, in writing "Music Celebrating the Free Trade Hall", he had sought to include 14 references to famous acts that had played there including an excerpt of the Sex Pistols' Anarchy in the UK.

He said: “It was a real journey discovering how much the British music scene owes to Manchester. There is a phenomenal wealth of creative talent that has gone into the history of the place.”