Free lunchbreak concerts go live again

Aberdeen Art Gallery’s Cowdray Hall is reverberating with the sounds of live music for the first time in two years.

The popular free lunchbreak concerts series returned this week.

The new programme has been launched in ambitious style as virtuoso local pianist Joseph Long continues his personal challenge to play all 18 of Mozart’s piano sonatas. This is the fifth in the series and the first to be performed live.

During the Covid-19 lockdowns audiences were able to enjoy a special pre-recorded performances by Joseph via the Art Gallery’s Museum From Home web pages – these performances are still available to listen to at

The enjoyment of art and music in one city centre location is made possible by the unique co-location of the Art Gallery and the Cowdray Hall. The Hall was gifted to the people of Aberdeen in 1926 by Lady Cowdray of Dunecht, to ‘encourage a taste for art and music in the city of Aberdeen.’ Today it remains true to its original purpose, with music events accentuated by the superb natural acoustic.

Lunchbreak Concerts have been an important aspect of the Art Gallery’s public programme of activity for many years, offering an important platform for both established and emerging performers. The programme features professional and non-professional musicians, from Aberdeen and the North-East as well as further afield.

Following this week’s launch with Joseph Long, the fortnightly programme features a wide range of musical genres, from classical to folk to jazz. On Thursday 3 March audiences will enjoy a performance by talented young musicians from the Aberdeen City Music School based at Dyce Academy. This specialist music school supports talented musicians from all over Scotland to continue their general education whilst receiving expert tuition and additional time for music study.

Aberdeen’s UNESCO-recognised medieval town registers have inspired a very special performance on Thursday 31 March. Songs from Medieval Aberdeen is the result of collaboration between historian Dr Claire Hawes and musicians Davy Cattanach, Paddy Buchanan and Craig Spink, looking at how songwriters can use medieval material in their work. Supported by Creative Funding from Aberdeen City Council, the project resulted in the composition of original contemporary folk songs inspired by the 15th–century legal documents. They will be performed in the Cowdray Hall on guitar, bodhrán and percussion, with vocals in Scots.

Aberdeen Art Gallery’s Cowdray Hall (Photo: Dapple Photography)

Councillor Marie Boulton, Aberdeen City Council’s culture spokesperson, said: ‘The return of the Lunchbreak Concerts programme of live music at the Cowdray Hall is another welcome step towards “normal service” for music fans and performers.

‘Whilst it was great to be able to listen to pre-recorded performances during lockdowns via the Archives, Gallery & Museums website, nothing compares to gathering together to share the experience of listening to live music. We’ll have appropriate measures in place to keep audiences, performers and staff safe.

‘The numbers in the Cowdray Hall will be carefully managed, and we’re asking audiences to test before visiting where possible and wear a mask at all times during the visit and performance. Tickets are free, but we do advise booking in advance.’

Lunchbreak Concerts are held fortnightly in the Cowdray Hall at Aberdeen Art Gallery at 12.45pm. Concerts last approximately 45 minutes.

The programme for February/March is:

  • Thursday 17 February, 12.45pm (45mins) – Thistle String Quartet
  • Thursday 3 March, 12.45pm (45mins) – Aberdeen City Music School
  • Thursday 17 March, 12.45pm (45mins) – Neil Birse and Ed Parr play jazz
  • Aberdeen Jazz Festival (17-27 March) enjoy performances at Aberdeen Art Gallery on Sunday 20, Saturday 26, Sunday 27 March
  • Thursday 31 March, 12.45pm (45mins) – Songs from Medieval Aberdeen

Lunchbreak Concerts are free, and donations are welcome. Visit the website for full programme details. Advance booking is encouraged at