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On Thursday 16 September 2021, B:Music venue Symphony Hall was visited by HRH The Earl of Wessex KG GCVO. The visit marked the official opening of the building’s brand-new Jennifer Blackwell Performance Space and provided the Prince with an opportunity to meet staff and young musicians.

HRH The Earl of Wessex was greeted by B:Music’s CEO Nick Reed, together with the Chair of its Board, Anita Bhalla OBE. In addition to unveiling a portrait in the Jennifer Blackwell Performance Space and a plaque commemorating his visit and the official opening, HRH The Earl of Wessex was then escorted on a tour of the new performance space and facilities.

The Prince and guests at the opening event were entertained by Rise Up: a B:Music initiative which offers talented female musicians from the region mentorship from world renowned jazz musicians, access to rehearsal spaces in the iconic Symphony Hall and a platform to showcase their musical and compositional talent through concerts and access to recording studios.

The Rise Up ensemble were selected by a panel of experts including jazz artists Trish Clowes, Alica Gardener-Trejo and Yazz Ahmed and is supported by Ian Reaves and the PRS Foundation.

Of the event, Rise Up member Jasmine Belle said, “It was surreal to play for such a high-profile figure and, of course, it was lovely to invite new people in to enjoy and appreciate the new spaces in the building.”

Katie Grayland, another member of Rise Up added, “It was a fantastic opportunity performing and meeting Prince Edward with the Rise Up ensemble. It's always an honour to get to share the stage with likeminded and talented musicians in the beautiful Jennifer Blackwell Performance Space, where we've recently been fortunate to play and practice a number of times.”

Jennifer Blackwell adored Symphony Hall. The generous support of The Blackwell Trust has allowed B:Music to create a space dedicated to her memory where music can be accessible to all and where Jennifer's lifelong passion for music can live on.

The new state-of-the-art performance facilities, designed by an award-winning team at Page\Park Architects, has provided Symphony Hall with a major increase in spaces for performance and learning, giving new opportunities for local musicians, and supporting the local community in musical discoveries. A new café greets visitors from Centenary Square and expanded bars and relaxed seating ensure a warm welcome throughout the day. For the first time, Birmingham’s world-renowned concert hall now boasts a dedicated entrance from Centenary Square, itself undergoing major redevelopment to provide a high-quality public realm within the second city.