The Royal Festival Hall 50th Birthday Gala

Drab, post-war Britain, where demob suits were still worn and chocolate was still rationed was given a tonic, 50 years ago, in the form of a Festival of Britain on London's South Bank. One product of the festival was less ephemeral than the rides and amusements - a 2,895-seat concert hall.

The list of people who have performedat the Royal Festival Hall is impressive and varied. Conductors whose batons feature in the collection on Level 4 range from Beecham and Karajan to Sir Edward Heath. Other performers include Frank Sinatra, Stravinsky, Blur and RadioHead.

BBC Knowledge gives viewers the chance to see the special 50th Birthday Gala, with the Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Valery Gergiev, marking the anniversary of the Hall.

Soloists include Murray Perahia, who performs the Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor. Tenor Marcello Giordani sings Verdi arias and duets with soprano Angela Gheorghiu, and the baritone Dmitri Hvorostovsky sings arias from La Traviata, Rigoletto and Il Trovatore. The baritone and soprano perform the duet from Un Ballo In Maschera.

On 12th May 2001 at 7pm BBC2 broadcasts an evening of themed programming, hosted by this year's "Total Meltdown" presenter and long-time friend of the Festival Hall, John Peel. The evening is a journey through the sights and sounds of a remarkable building, and includes "A People's Place", a fascinating documentary telling the story of one of Britain's best-loved buildings, plus highlights from the 50th Birthday Gala and the annual "Meltdown" concert.

Genre: Music

Running Time: 120 minutes (approx)