25 Incredible Concert Halls Around the World
Wikipedia has an enormous list of Concert Halls around the world. Last night I went through all of them and selected 25 distinctive buildings that caught my eye. This list is not exhaustive and was not compiled for a concert hall’s cultural, historical or architectural significance. It is simply a visual tour around the world through the lens of concert halls; which are often considered important cultural landmarks of a city. Enjoy! And please feel free to share your favourite concert halls in the comments below.
1. The Walt Disney Concert Hall – Los Angeles, California
The Walt Disney Concert Hall at 111 South Grand Avenue in Downtown Los Angeles, California, is the fourth hall of the Los Angeles Music Center. Bounded by Hope Street, Grand Avenue, and 1st and 2nd Streets, it seats 2,265 people and serves (among other purposes) as the home of the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra and the Los Angeles Master Chorale.
Lillian Disney made an initial gift in 1987 to build a performance venue as a gift to the people of Los Angeles and a tribute to Walt Disney’s devotion to the arts and to the city. The Frank Gehry-designed building opened on October 24, 2003. [Source]
2. National Centre for the Performing Arts – Beijing, China
The National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA), colloquially described as The Bird’s Egg, is an opera house in Beijing, People’s Republic of China. The Centre, an ellipsoid dome of titanium and glass surrounded by an artificial lake, seats 5,452 people in three halls and is almost 12,000 m² in size. It was designed by French architect Paul Andreu. Construction started in December 2001 and the inaugural concert was held in December 2007. [Source]
3. The Oslo Opera House – Oslo, Norway
The Oslo Opera House is the home of The Norwegian National Opera and Ballet, and the national opera theatre in Norway. The building is situated in the Bjorvika neighborhood of central Oslo, at the head of the Oslofjord. It is operated by Statsbygg, the government agency which manages property for the Norwegian government.
The structure contains 1,100 rooms in a total area of 38,500 m2 (414,000 sq ft). The main auditorium seats 1,364 seats and two other performance spaces that can seat 200 and 400. The main stage is 16 m (52 ft) wide and 40 m (130 ft) deep. The angled exterior surfaces of the building are covered with Italian marble and white granite and make it appear to rise from the water. It is the largest cultural building constructed in Norway since Nidarosdomen was completed circa 1300. [Source]
4. Royal Albert Hall – London, England
The Royal Albert Hall is a concert hall situated on the northern edge of the South Kensington area, in the City of Westminster, London, England. Since its opening by Queen Victoria in 1871, the world’s leading artists from several performance genres have appeared on its stage and it has become one of the UK’s most treasured and distinctive buildings. Each year it hosts more than 350 events including classical concerts, rock and pop, ballet and opera, sports, award ceremonies, school and community events, charity performances and banquets.
The hall was originally supposed to have been called The Central Hall of Arts and Sciences, but the name was changed by Queen Victoria to Royal Albert Hall of Arts and Sciences when laying the foundation stone as a dedication to her deceased husband and consort Prince Albert. It forms the practical part of a national memorial to the Prince Consort – the decorative part is the Albert Memorial directly to the north in Kensington Gardens, now separated from the Hall by the road Kensington Gore. [Source]
5. The Copenhagen Concert Hall – Copenhagen, Denmark
The Koncerthuset (Copenhagen Concert Hall in English) by Jean Nouvel is a part of the new DR Byen (DR Town), that houses the Danish Broadcasting Corporation, DR. The concert hall and the DR Town are located in the northern part of Orestad – an ambitious development area in Copenhagen, Denmark. The concert complex consists of four halls with the main auditorium seating 1,800 people. It serves as the home of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra. [Source]
6. Auditorio de Tenerife – Canary Islands, Spain
The Auditorio de Tenerife was designed by architect Santiago Calatrava Valls. It is located on the Avenue of the Constitution in the Canarian capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife (Canary Islands, Spain), and next to the Atlantic Ocean in the southern part of Port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Construction began in 1997 and was completed in 2003. The auditorium was inaugurated on 26 September of that year with the presence of Felipe de Borbón, Prince of Asturias, and was later visited by former U.S. President Bill Clinton. The building is framed within the tenets of late-modern architecture of the late 20th century.
The majestic profile of the auditorium has become an architectural symbol of the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the island of Tenerife and the Canary Islands. It is also regarded as the finest modern building in the Canary Islands and one of the most emblematic buildings of Spanish architecture. In March 2008, it was included by the post office in a set of six stamps (Correos) depicting the most emblematic works of Spanish architecture. It is one of the major attractions of Tenerife and home to the Orquesta Sinfónica de Tenerife (Tenerife Symphony Orchestra). [Source]
7. National Theater and Concert Hall – Taipei, Taiwan
The National Theater and National Concert Hall are twin performing arts venues in Zhongzheng District, Taipei, Taiwan. Completed in 1987, they are Taiwan’s primary national performing arts venues. The landmarks stand, respectively, on the south and north sides of Liberty Square in front of the Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall. Together the structures are referred to by the acronym NTCH serving as facilities of the National Chiang Kai-shek Cultural Center. The square itself sits near Ketagalan Boulevard, the Presidential Office Building and National Central Library. [Source]
8. Rudolfinum – Prague, Czech Republic
The Rudolfinum is a music auditorium in Prague, Czech Republic. It is designed in the neo-renaissance style and is situated on Jan Palach Square on the bank of the river Vltava. [Source]
9. Casa da Música – Porto, Portugal
Casa da Música is a major concert hall space in Porto, Portugal which houses the cultural institution of the same name with its three orchestras Orquestra Nacional do Porto, Orquestra Barroca and Remix Ensemble. It was designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas with Office for Metropolitan Architecture and Arup-AFA, and was built as part of Porto’s project for European Culture Capital in 2001 but was only finished in the first half of 2005 and immediately became an icon in the city.
The Building engineers were Arup (London) together with Afassociados (Porto). Inside Outside (Petra Blaisse) designed the large 13 curtains, ranging from 22mx15m to 65mx8m, and the gold leaf wood grain pattern on the large auditorium. Although the opening day concert took place on the April 14 with Cla and Lou Reed, the building was inaugurated on April 15, 2005 by the Portuguese president. The Prime-minister and many other notable politicians and Porto society were present for the concert by the Orquestra Nacional do Porto. [Source]
10. Carnegie Hall – New York City, USA
Carnegie Hall is a concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, United States, located at 881 Seventh Avenue, occupying the east stretch of Seventh Avenue between West 56th Street and West 57th Street, two blocks south of Central Park. Designed by architect William Burnet Tuthill and built by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie in 1891, it is one of the most prestigious venues in the world for both classical music and popular music.
Carnegie Hall has its own artistic programming, development, and marketing departments, and presents about 250 performances each season. It is also rented out to performing groups. The hall has not had a resident company since 1962, when the New York Philharmonic moved to Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall (renamed Avery Fisher Hall in 1973). [Source]
11. Palacio de Bellas Artes – Mexico City, Mexico
The Palacio de Bellas Artes (Palace of Fine Arts) is the most important cultural center in Mexico City as well as the rest of the country of Mexico. It is located on the west side of the historic center of Mexico City next to the Alameda Central park.
The first National Theater of Mexico was built in the late 19th century, but it was soon decided to tear this down in favor of a more opulent building in time for Centennial of the Mexican War of Independence in 1910. The initial design and construction was undertaken by Italian architect Adamo Boari in 1904, but complications arising from the soft subsoil and the political problem both before and during the Mexican Revolution, hindered then stopped construction completely by 1913.
Construction began again in 1932 under Mexican architect Federico Mariscal and was completed in 1934. The exterior of the building is primarily Neoclassical and Art Nouveau and the interior is primarily Art Deco. The building is best known for its murals by Diego Rivera, Siqueiros and others, as well as the many exhibitions and theatrical performances its hosts, including the Ballet Folklorico de Mexico. [Source]
12. Opernhaus Dortmund – Dortmund, Germany
Opernhaus Dortmund (Dortmund Opera House) is the opera house of Dortmund, Germany, opened in 1966 and formally operated by the Theater Dortmund. The first opera house of Dortmund of 1904 had been destroyed in World War II. The new opera house was designed by architects Heinrich Rosskotten and Edgar Tritthart. The design separates the functions stage and technical rooms in the Buhnenhaus (stage house), dominated by straight lines, from the hall for the audience under a thin-shell structure roof. [Source]
13. Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater – Baku, Azerbiajan
The Akhundov Azerbaijan State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater is a theatre in Baku, Azerbaijan. It was built in 1911. [Source]
14. The Sage Gateshead – Gateshead Quays, UK
The Sage Gateshead is a centre for musical education, performance and conferences, located in Gateshead on the south bank of the River Tyne, in the North East of England. It opened in 2004. The venue is part of the Gateshead Quays development, which also includes the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art and the Gateshead Millennium Bridge. [Source]
15. Bolshoi Theatre – Moscow, Russia
The Bolshoi Theatre is an historic theatre in Moscow, Russia, designed by architect Joseph Bové, which holds performances of ballet and opera. The Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera are amongst the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world. The theatre is the parent company of The Bolshoi Ballet Academy, a world-leading school of ballet.
The main building of the theatre, rebuilt and renovated several times during its history, is a landmark of Moscow and Russia (its iconic neoclassical facade is depicted on the Russian 100-ruble banknote). On 28 October 2011, the Bolshoi was re-opened after an extensive six year renovation costing about 21 billion rubles (about $680 million). The renovation included restoring acoustics to the original quality (which had been lost during the Soviet Era), as well as restoring the original Imperial decor of the Bolshoi. [Source]
16. Harpa – Reykjavik, Iceland
Harpa is a concert hall and conference centre in Reykjavík, Iceland. The opening concert was held on May 4, 2011. Harpa was designed by the Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects in co-operation with Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliasson. The structure consists of a steel framework clad with irregularly-shaped glass panels of different colours.
The building was originally part of a redevelopment of the Austurhofn area dubbed World Trade Center Reykjavík, which was partially abandoned when the financial crisis took hold. The development was intended to include a 400-room hotel, luxury apartments, retail units, restaurants, a car park and the new headquarters of Icelandic bank Landsbanki. [Source]
17. Arts Centre – Melbourne, Australia
Arts Centre Melbourne, originally known as The Victorian Arts Centre and briefly officially called The Arts Centre, is a performing arts centre consisting of a complex of theatres and concert halls in the Melbourne Arts Precinct, located in the inner Melbourne suburb of Southbank in Victoria, Australia.
It was designed by architect Sir Roy Grounds, the masterplan for the complex (along with the National Gallery of Victoria) was approved in 1960, and construction of the Arts Centre began in 1973 following some delays. The complex opened in stages, with Hamer Hall opening in 1982, and the Theatres Building opening in 1984. [Source]
18. The Egg – Albany, New York
The Egg is a performing arts venue in Albany, New York. Named for the shape it resembles, it was designed by Harrison & Abramovitz as part of the Empire State Plaza project, and built between 1966 and 1978. It is located in the northeast corner of the Plaza. It has become an icon of Albany’s Capital District, due to its unusual shape and central location. [Source]
19. Konzerthaus Berlin – Berlin, Germany
The Konzerthaus Berlin is a concert hall situated on the Gendarmenmarkt square in the central Mitte district of Berlin housing the German orchestra Konzerthausorchester Berlin. Built as a theatre from 1818 to 1821 under the name of the Schauspielhaus Berlin, its usage changed to a concert hall after the Second World War and its name changed to its present one in 1994. [Source]
20. Cidade da Música – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
The Cidade das Artes is a cultural complex located in Barra da Tijuca in the Southwest Zone of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, which was originally planned to open in 2004. The formal inauguration is now anticipated for 2012, restyled as Cidade das Artes (City of Arts). The project’s R$515 million (approx. US$250 million) to the city of Rio caused much controversy was originally budgeted at R$86 million.
As the new home of the Brazilian Symphony Orchestra and a main centre for music, the Cidade das Artes will be the largest modern concert hall in South America, with 1,780 seats. The complex spans approximately 90 thousand square metres and also features a chamber music hall, three theatres, and 12 rehearsal rooms. From the terrace there is a panoramic view of the region, from Barra’s borught. The building was designed by the French architect Christian de Portzamparc and construction was funded by the city of Rio de Janeiro. [Source]
21. Harmony Hall Fukui – Fukui, Japan
The Harmony Hall Fukui, often abbreviated as HHF, is a concert hall located in Fukui, Fukui, Japan. Established in 1997, the building is owned by the Fukui Prefecture Organization for Cultural Promotion. It is known for having a huge organ built by Karl Schuke Berliner Orgelbauwerkstatt GmbH in the main music hall. [Source]
22. Roy Thompson Hall – Toronto, Canada
Roy Thomson Hall is a concert hall located at 60 Simcoe Street in Toronto, Ontario. It is the home of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir. Opened in 1982, its circular architectural design exhibits a sloping and curvilinear glass exterior. It was designed by Canadian architects Arthur Erickson and Mathers and Haldenby. The hall seats 2630 and features a pipe organ built by Canadian organ builders Gabriel Kney of London, Ontario.
The hall was formerly known as New Massey Hall. It acquired its current name from the family of Roy Thomson (first Lord Thomson of Fleet and founder of the publishing empire Thomson Corporation) who had donated $4.5 million (Canadian dollars) to complete the fund-raising efforts for the new hall. The hall was renovated over a period of six months in 2002, after years of complaints from musicians about the quality of its acoustics. [Source]
23. Sydney Opera House – Sydney, Australia
The Sydney Opera House is a multi-venue performing arts centre in Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. It was conceived and largely built by Danish architect Jørn Utzon, opening in 1973 after a long gestation that had begun with his competition-winning design in 1957. The Sydney Opera House was made a UNESCO World Heritage Site on 28 June 2007.
Contrary to its name, the building houses multiple performance venues. The Sydney Opera House is among the busiest performing arts centres in the world, hosting over 1,500 performances each year attended by some 1.2 million people. [Source]
24. Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay – Singapore
Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay is a waterside building located on six hectares of waterfront land alongside Marina Bay near the mouth of the Singapore River, purpose-built to be the centre for performing arts for the island nation of Singapore. Taking its name from the nearby Esplanade, it contains a Concert Hall which seats about 1,600 and a Theatre with a capacity of about 2,000 for the performing arts. [Source]
25. The Royal Opera House Muscat – Muscat, Oman
The Royal Opera House Muscat (ROHM) is Oman’s premier venue for musical arts and culture. It was officially opened on October 12th, 2011, with a production of the opera Turandot, conducted by Spanish tenor Plácido Domingo. The opera house is located in Shati Al-Qurm district of Muscat, Oman. Built on the royal orders of Sultan Qaboos of Oman, the Royal Opera House reflects contemporary Omani architecture, and has a capacity to accommodate maximum of 1,100 people.
This opera house is first in the world equipped with Radio Marconi’s multimedia interactive display seatback system, Mode23. The opera house complex consists of a concert theatre, auditorium, formal landscaped gardens, cultural market with retail, luxury restaurants and an art centre for musical, theatrical and operatic productions. [Source]
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