Town Hall & Symphony Hall
Town Hall and Symphony Hall are two iconic concert halls that bring some of the best musicians and performers in the world to the heart of Birmingham.
Town Hall and Symphony Hall Birmingham (THSH) is a leading UK music organisation which welcomes over 500,000 people to around 800 events each year. Managed by the registered charity Performances Birmingham Limited, THSH connects people to music through a dynamic and varied concert and education programme at the city’s two world-renowned concert halls and in the wider community. The wide ranging artistic programme includes performances from internationally renowned and emerging music artists spanning jazz, pop, folk, classical, rock, world and more. A further 18,000 people of all ages enjoy, participate in and learn about music through a thriving education, community and talent development programme. By bringing the best musicians and performers in the world to Birmingham, Town Hall and Symphony Hall underpins the city’s international reputation, as well as being a major player in its cultural and civic life and a significant contributor to the local economy.
THSH is funded by Birmingham City Council and is supported using public funding by Arts Council England.
Town Hall Birmingham re-opened in October 2007 following a £35m renovation funded by Birmingham City Council (£18.3m), Heritage Lottery Fund (£13.7m), European Regional Development Fund (£3m).
The Grade I listed Town Hall is one of the oldest concert halls in the world, and has been at the centre of Birmingham’s cultural life since it opened in 1834.
Charles Dickens gave his first public reading of A Christmas Carol on Town Hall’s stage, Mendelssohn’s Elijah and Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius received their premieres in the hall, and in the 1950s to 1970s the venue played host to many of the biggest names in popular music such as Led Zeppelin, Buddy Holly, Chuck Berry and the Beatles.
Artists who have performed at Town Hall more recently include Bat For Lashes, PJ Harvey and Wayne Shorter.
Town Hall facts
- Town Hall was designed by Joseph Hansom – who later went on to design the Hansom cab. The building is modelled on the Roman Temple of Castor and Pollux.
- The stone with which the Town Hall was built is popularly known as Anglesey Marble and is actually a white carboniferous limestone. It was originally quarried in north Wales, with the stone shipped 80 miles by sea and 100 miles by canal to Birmingham.
- Since its opening, practically every prime minister and politician of note has spoken at Town Hall, including Joseph Chamberlain, William Gladstone, David Lloyd George, Neville Chamberlain, Clement Atlee, Neil Kinnock and Margaret Thatcher.
...one of my favourite buildings in Britain, let alone Birmingham.”
TV presenter Kevin McCloud, Grand Designs Live
Symphony Hall is ranked amongst the top attractions in Birmingham on TripAdvisor. It opened in 1991 and is widely regarded as one of the best concert halls in the world.
As well as being home to the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, it presents a broad range of concerts of all kinds from Liza Minnelli and Emeli Sande to Tony Bennett and the Vienna Philharmonic.
Symphony Hall celebrated its 21st birthday in 2012 with a festival featuring a variety of events including a live screening of Dracula, appearances from Elvis Costello, Billy Connolly and John Malkovich, and a performance from Andris Nelsons, Bryn Terfel and the CBSO..
Symphony Hall facts
- Since its official opening in 1991, Symphony Hall has welcomed around 10 million audience members to over 7500 events
- There is a railway line that runs directly below the ICC site. Symphony Hall is founded on 120 concrete pillars interspersed with 800 rubber cushions to reduce the vibrations from this.
- Acoustic tests run before the hall’s opening proved that if a pin is dropped on stage it can be heard from any seat in the house
- Symphony Hall has welcomed many of the world’s greatest musical artists, orchestras and public figures to date, including: Ravi Shankar, Sir Simon Rattle, San Francisco Symphony Orchestra, Bill Clinton, Joanna Newsom, Grace Jones, Jessye Norman, Vienna Philharmonic, Jonas Kaufmann, Rufus Wainwright, Liza Minelli, Gladys Knight
…the city is blessed with Symphony Hall, perhaps the finest concert venue in the UK
BBC Music magazine
Free events at Symphony Hall
Symphony Hall hosts a variety of free performances each month, in the laidback surroundings of the Symphony Hall Café Bar.
Jazzlines Free Gigs take place from 5pm most Fridays, and are designed to deliver that Friday feeling! Unwind in the bar after a long week to the sensational sounds of talented jazz musicians from Birmingham and beyond.
Musical Picnic and Mid-Week Explorer give families the chance to tuck in to some musical entertainment, in association with Mubu Music. Performers introduce children to a world of music, song, storytelling and dance. Monthly on a Saturday, 10.30am and Wednesday, 10.30am.
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