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Best Concert Halls In The World

The Helix, Dublin

The Dublin Helix opened in 2002 at a cost of €36.5 million, which when compared with the cost of Beijing’s performance center makes it look like it might have been picked up at the dollar store. The venue is made up of three different auditoriums: The Space, The Mahony Hall, and The Theatre, and there’s also an exhibition area and conference room called The Gallery. The seating layouts in each of the three venues are changeable, depending what you want to use it for. It’s used for a lot. Everything from opera to rock concerts to ice shows. Sinead O’Connor has played here, along with Van Morrison and Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, although none of them, so far as we know, at the same time. Roddy Doyle’s “The Woman Who Walked Into Doors” was also performed at the Helix, and the Russian State Philharmonic Orchestra and The St. Petersburg Ballet have also performed at the venue. In 2003 it was awarded the Opus Building of the Year Award.


Vienna State Opera, Vienna

The Vienna State Opera is excellent bang for your buck in that it is both an opera house and an opera company. More than that, the members of the Vienna Philharmonic are recruited from its orchestra. This is definitely something to tweet home about, as The Vienna Philharmonic is widely recognized as the top of the orchestral world, possibly the tippy top depending who you’re talking to. In short, the musicians are top notch, the peak of their trade. Meanwhile, back at the building which, incidentally, was completed in 1869, it was originally called the Vienna Court Opera, but then in 1920 when the Hapsburg Monarchy was put back it was renamed the Vienna State Opera. When it first opened it wasn’t popular, apparently not matching the standard set by the nearby Heinrichshof. It was referred to as “the Konnigratz” of architecture, a reference to the military disaster at Konnigratz in 1866. The reviews were so bad, in fact, that one of the architects, Eduard van der Null, killed himself over it. His partner died of tuberculosis a few weeks later. The Emperor was apparently so upset by all this that from then on he responded enthusiastically to all new art that was ever put in front of him.

1999 Radio City Music Hall

Radio City Music Hall, New York City

Radio City is described as an entertainment center, but as home to the world famous Rockettes, venue for the Radio City Christmas Spectacular, nicknamed Showplace of the Nation and a declared New York City landmark since 1978, how could we not include it in a list of the world’s best concert halls? Heck, in a list of rare vegetables we’d put it in. It’s Radio City for pete’s sake, where the best performers in the rock and pop world have been performing for thirty years or more. At some point it was New York’s main tourist attraction. 

Philharmonie, Berlin

The home of the Berlin Philharmonic is acclaimed both for its acoustics and architecture. It was completed in 1963, and has two venues, the main hall which seats 2,440, and a chamber music hall seating 1,180 that was added later. It was built to replace the old Philharmonie which the British bombed into rubble during the Second World War. In 2008 the roof was damaged during a fire, but the venue was open for performances again within a month.  The Berlin Philharmonic is widely viewed one of the top orchestras in the world.

National Centre For The Performing Arts, Beijing

The Center For The Performing Arts held its inaugural concert in 2007. It’s a modernist look caught up in the triangle of Tiananmen Square, the Great Hall of The People, and the Forbidden City. The youthful appearance mixed in with places and architecture of such historical significance caused some controversy at the time. The building is a glass dome with titanium accents, the sort of look your hairdresser might go for after a bad trip. It looks like a beached whale, or as others have said like an egg floating on water, which if that’s the case better keep an eye open for whatever laid it. The three performance halls seat a total of 5,452 people. Situated in the center of a lake, the main entrance is through a hallway under the water. Construction costs greatly exceeded estimates, which means that at least sixty percent of operational costs will need to be government-subsidized for the life of the Center.

Konzerthaus, Berlin

In 1776 when America was focused on the small matter of independence, Berlin was readying itself for comedy night with the French Comedy Theater, or if you prefer, the Franzosische Komedie Haus, which sounds a bit more grown up. In 1786 the same building became the National Theater, or the Schauspielhaus Berlin. After this it burned down and the redesign by Schinkel was inaugurated in 1821. The theater was later damaged during the Second World War, and only reopened in 1984, which is when it became a concert hall. Today it is considered one of the world’s great concert halls, on an acoustic par with Boston’s Symphony Hall and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam. In 1994 the name changed from Schauspielhaus Berlin to Konzerthaus Berlin.

Sydney Opera House, Sydney

Designed by Danish architect Jorn Utzon, the SOH is one of the most recognizable buildings in the world. The first thing is to forget Sydney and Opera, and simply refer to this world icon as “The House”. This sort of behavior lets people know that you’ve crossed a threshold they haven’t. You’re in now, and the idea that you may know something they don’t unsettles them. But be careful, this type of thing can also make you sound like a dick. The House is designed with seven performance venues of varying sizes, the largest being the Concert Hall, which holds about 2,500 people. According to John Malkovich, the acoustics at The House make it impossible to stage anything except a circus. Given its more than forty years of performance history, John may be in the minority on this one, and responding to some pretty naff reviews of The Giacomo Variations.

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