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Old pianos to be transformed into amphitheatre inside Edinburgh landmark

Work has started inside the Old Royal High School on Pianodrome’s latest space.

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The original Grand Pianodrome in Leith in November 2019 (Pianodrome/PA)

The original Grand Pianodrome in Leith in November 2019 (Pianodrome/PA)

The original Grand Pianodrome in Leith in November 2019 (Pianodrome/PA)

An Edinburgh landmark is set to be given a new lease of life as the capital’s newest cultural venue, with old pianos being transformed into an amphitheatre.

Work has started inside the Old Royal High School on Pianodrome’s latest amphitheatre, which when complete will be a 10 metre-wide circular structure made out of 40 old pianos.

Plans are being developed for the Calton Hill school, which was built as part of the Scottish Enlightenment but has been mostly empty since the 1960s, to be converted into a world-class centre for music education and performance.

Peter Thierfeldy, project manager for the National Centre for Music bid, said it is a “good fit to have a young, creative and dynamic organisation like Pianodrome involved at this formative stage” for the centre.

“This custom-built amphitheatre will be a welcoming new community and heritage engagement space within the Old Royal High that will create a sense of wonder and fun for audiences and musicians alike,” he said.

From June to September, the building will host an array of performances from Scottish cultural institutions.

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Artists impression of what the Pianodrome amphitheatre will look like when complete (Pianodrome)

Artists impression of what the Pianodrome amphitheatre will look like when complete (Pianodrome)

Artists impression of what the Pianodrome amphitheatre will look like when complete (Pianodrome)

The 78-seat amphitheatre will have its premiere as part of the Hidden Door Festival, which is taking place in the school from June 9 to 18.

David Martin, the festival’s creative director, said he is honoured to be putting on the first event.

“While our event breathes new life into Edinburgh’s forgotten spaces, Pianodrome gives new life to abandoned instruments, and through their inspirational creativity they generate new space for performers and audiences to experience in a completely unique and often interactive way,” he said.

After Hidden Door, Pianodrome will host a series of drop-in events, workshops and performances with a special programme planned for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August.

Matthew Wright, Pianodrome producer and director, said: “The new Pianodrome amphitheatre is a chance for us to work with this community, and a growing list of partner organisations, to create a welcoming, sustainable, playful and magical musical space where new sounds and ideas can be shared and celebrated by all.”

The structure is being made by the Pianodrome community interest company, which has built similar amphitheatres before.

It built one at the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens in 2018 and featured in Leith in 2019.

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It also designed a series of interactive sculptures for the Leeds International Piano Competition in September last year.

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