Look back at our Discovery Day

This March we celebrated the past, present and future of Colston Hall as we invited you to explore our venue and everything we do at our Discovery Day on Sat 16 Mar.

For over 150 years we’ve been a cultural hub for the city. Our Discovery Day was all about sharing how, through our £48.8 million project to transform the hall, we’re working to continue to bring ground-breaking live music and music education experiences to the city, and building a world-class music centre that will serve and inspire the people of Bristol for another 150 years.

Here are some of our highlights from our jam-packed programme of talks, workshops and performances.

Pineapple Jam

The day began with an interactive workshop with audiences exploring and playing with a series of innovative and curious pineapple instruments created by artist Savinder Bual and percussion from around the world. Fruit-based instruments are considered one of your five a day right? Find out more about the Pineapple Project here.

Plans for Our Venue

While these exotic instruments where making their music in the foyer, those who were interested in what we are currently building could find out how we’re redeveloping our venue with architect Mark Lewis and staff from Bristol Music Trust.

You can find out more about what we’re building on our Transformation pages here. And why not listen to our Transformation Podcast below on the acoustics of our new hall.

Steel Pan Workshop

Always wanted to have a go at the steel pans? Well for many who joined Alphonse Touna and Fraser McAllister for a mass inter-generational Steel Pan and Djembe workshop it was their first time. The Caribbean rhythms brought the sunshine to our stalls bar on that rainy Saturday!

Public Consultation

You might have seen that we’ve been out and about across the city over the last two months as we’ve been asking you what you want from the transformed hall in our public consultation. On Discovery Day we brought the consultation back home and showed you findings from our surveys, photos and designs of our transformed hall and gave you the opportunity to share your thoughts. Find out more about our Vision and Renaming process here.

Heritage Stand

Over at the heritage stand we were showcasing our exciting new National Lottery Heritage Funded projects and brought our heritage alive with hands on activities that told stories of wrestlers, suffragettes, devastating fires as well as the iconic musicians that have performed in our venue. See more of the highlights from our transformation, including recent photos of the demolition process, removal of our Harrison & Harrison organ and behind the scenes snaps here.

Come and Sing

What was quite possibly the most popular part of day was our brilliant Come and Sing family singing workshop. Led by our sister organisation Bristol Plays Music, scores of voices young and old filled our foyer space with song. Find out more about the learning opportunities offered by Bristol Plays Music here.


Metal artist Rebecca Gouldson has been working hard on designs for a sculpture installation created from texturally unique shapes that will cascade from Colston Hall’s foyer ceiling when the transformed hall reopens. Rebecca joined us to explain more about this beautiful artwork, the variety of materials she’s used and how the whole sculpture will sway responding to changes in temperature in our foyer space.

You can find out more about CHIME and ways to support our transformation here.

What role should a concert hall play in a city like Bristol?

To truly deliver on the promise of our once in a generation transformation project, we must develop a new vision for the Hall.

In a panel discussion with Sandra Meadows (Chief Executive of Voscur), Andrew Kelly (Bristol Cultural Development Partnership), Michael Jenkins (Filmmaker and Producer), Aisha Thomas (Assistant Principal for Inclusion, City Academy) and Phil Castang (Bristol Music Trust) and in a Q&A between Bristol 24/7 Editor Martin Booth and our Chief Executive Louise Mitchell, we continued to discuss what this vision might be and what role Colston Hall should play in 2019 and beyond.

Listen to our podcast on the vision and renaming process with Louise Mitchell and former Trustee Marti Burgess below.

Jason Singh Workshops and Performance

Throughout the day beatboxer, sound artist and Bristol Plays Music artist in residence Jason Singh was working with keen, creative participants to create a new piece of music exploring the heritage and transformation of Colston Hall.

In 20 minutes at Discovery Day, Jason Singh created this inspiring piece of music for Bristol with members of the public aged 8 to 80! Here’s a short snippet from their performance in our foyer.

Our favourite bit?

Getting to meet the future audiences we’ll be welcoming for years to come!

Photography by Tom Ham