Situated on Lothian Road in Edinburgh is a concert hall known to Eurovision fans.
On 25 March 1972 the Eurovision Song Contest was held in the Usher Hall. Then it was a few days over 58 years old but we have moved on 42 more years and this notable building, with its curved walls and famous green dome, is about to celebrate its one hundredth birthday.
Back in 1972 we had reached only the 17th annual outing for Eurovision andthe UK wasn’t expected to hold the event but Prince Rainier of Monaco, the country which had won the previous year, declined to host citing both the cost and lack of a suitable venue. So the BBC agreed to take over the organisation. Delegates from 18 countries descended on Edinburgh and the concert hall named after Andrew Usher, a whiskey distiller and blender who presented the city with a gift of £100,000 specifically for its construction.
He was 70 years old when he made the donation but, sadly, died two years later and so never saw a brick laid, never mind the completion of the project..
The opening concert included works by Handel, Bach, Wagner, Beethoven and Scottish composer Hamish MacCunn.
For us it will always be remembered as the place where Eurovision was staged. The hostess was Moira Shearer, internationally renowned ballet dancer and wife of BBC interviewer Ludovic Kennedy. It was the year where the interval act was performed by the Massed Pipes and Drums in the grounds Edinburgh Castle, and it was the year when Vicky Leandros won for Luxembourg with Après toi.
To mark the Usher Hall’s 100th birthday, a five-strong Centenary Concert Series will be held in March.
Happy birthday Usher Hall.
Vicky Leandros singing Après toi
Stay tuned to esctoday.com for information on the Eurovision Song Contest 2014.