Tuesday 29 November 2016

On time, on budget: Queen Elisabeth Hall in Antwerp

Queen Elisabeth Hall, Antwerp - credit Jesse Willems & deFilharmonie
Queen Elisabeth Hall, Antwerp - credit Jesse Willems & deFilharmonie
When so many concert-hall projects get mired in politics or go wildly over budget, it is heartening to hear of one completed on time and on budget (The ElbPhilharmonie in Hamburg and the Philharmonie in Paris each cost over £500 million and who knows what the new London hall would cost if it ever got built). 

The Queen Elisabeth Hall in Antwerp, Belgium opened this last weekend (25 November 2016) at a cost around £57 million. A traditional concert hall holding 2,000 people, it will form the home of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic Orchestra. The hall is designed by Manchester-based architects SimpsonHaugh & Partners co-operating closely with Bureau Bouwtechniek (Antwerp) and Kirkegaard Associates (Chicago), and reputedly has excellent acoustics. The new hall is part of an historic complex at Antwerp Zoo and so combines the modern auditorium other more historical buildings. 

The new hall will be the home of the Royal Flemish Philharmonic, principal conductor Philippe Herreweghe, honorary conductor Edo de Waart.

The concert hall was inaugurated on 25 November 2016 when Edo de Waart conducted the Royal Flemish Philharmonic in Dvorak's Cello Concerto (with Truls Mørk) and Strauss's Ein Heldenleben, and on 2 & 3 December Edo de Waart conducts the orchestra in Mahler's Symphony No. 2 Resurrection. Future concerts include further Mahler, and Bruckner symphonies, Prokofiev's Ivan the Terrible conducted by Martyn Brabbins, Bartok's Bluebeard's Castle with Nadja Michael and Mikhail Petrenko, the world premiere of Wim Hendrickx Symphony No. 2 'Aquarius' Dream, Philippe Herreweghe conducting Mendelssohn's Elijah with soloists including Carolyn Sampson and David Soar, James MacMillan conducting the premiere of his trombone concerto plus music by Ades and Turnage,

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