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!