Bridgewater Hall


Trips & Adventures – 30 January 2019

A few of us gathered at the Briton’s Protection pub for a quiet pie and a pint before meeting others in the Bridgewater Hall foyer. There we also met our guide, Glynn, who had worked at the concert hall for over 20 years.

The Bridgewater Hall is the iconic international concert venue in Manchester city centre, (which replaced the previous venue – the Free Trade Hall, which had poor acoustics). It cost around £42 million to build and currently hosts over 250 performances a year.

The hall is home to The Hallé orchestra, and is the primary concert venue for the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra. The building sits on a bed of 280 springs, which help reduce external noise and vibration from the road and passing trams.

The Bridgewater Hall held its first concert on 11 September 1996 and was officially opened on 4 December by Queen Elizabeth II, alongside the Duke of Edinburgh. The Bridgewater Hall was one of a number of structures built in the 1990s that symbolised the transition to a new and modern Manchester following de-industrialisation and the 1996 bombing.

We visited areas which are not normally open to the public including the undercroft where you can see the springs, and the performer’s changing rooms. It was great to see behind the scenes. Apparently Jessye Norman (an American opera singer associated in particular with the Wagnerian repertoire) refused to use the changing room, staying at the near-by Midland Hotel and getting a limousine to ferry her to the Bridgewater Hall!

On the plaza outside is the “Ishinki Touchstone”, a sculpture by Kan Yasuda made of polished Italian Carrara marble which is white streaked with bluish-grey. The stone weighs 18 tonnes and was installed in August 1996. It cost £200,000 and the rumour is that it is lucky to touch the stone. We all enjoyed another great day out.

Trips & Adventures – 1 February 2019 

Norman and Stuart went to a concert by the St Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra at the Bridgewater Hall on Friday 1st February and it was free, donated by Manchester airport. Before the concert we had a drink in The Briton’s Protection, a nearby pub.
The programme was changed, as was the conductor who was to be Yuri Temirkanov but was replaced by Vassily Sinaisky. The music began with Symphony No 1 in D flat major The Classical, Op 25.  This was followed by The Second Piano Concerto by Rachmaninoff with soloist Freddy Kempf. After the interval the concert ended with a rousing performance of Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 5 in E minor, Op 64.
We retired to the pub for another drink. Concert going is a thirsty business.

One thought on “Bridgewater Hall

  1. Walter bought a book about the Bridgewater Hall, and he was keen to inform us that: “The weight of the hall stands on 146 circular, reinforced concrete columns. On top of each column sits a steel enclosed unit containing a set of 15 springs. These absorb outside noise and vibration. These springs are used in buildings which are in cities that are subject to earthquakes.

    The hall has a magnificent concert pipe organ which cost 1.2 million pounds and was built in Denmark. The organ is 42 feet high, 45 feet wide and weighs 22 tons. Its 5,500 pipes range in size from 2 inches to 32 feet in length, and there are 76 stops.

    The hall opened on Wednesday 11 September 1996 with a concert by the Halle orchestra conducted by Kent Nagano.

    Walter von Stalzing”

    Thanks, Walter


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