July 24, 2014

Symphony Hall

In 2009, I spent a few days in Birmingham on my own, and was lucky enough to be able to attend a concert at the wonderful Symphony Hall, which is situated at the Centenary Square in the company of the ICC (the convention centre), the Hyatt Hotel, the Repertory Theatre, and recently, the city library.

They had something called Igorfest during April and May of that year, a final instalment in a series that had been going for four years, a project to perform Stravinsky´s complete works. What I got to hear was his Biblical Works: Babel; Abraham and Isaac; The Flood; A Sermon, a Narrative and a Prayer; and lastly, Threni - Lamentations of Jerusalem. They had a pre-concert talk where you could get some background and it was most interesting, although I remember little of it now. One of the works, it might have been The Flood, had only been performed once before, and none of them are often performed, which made it all the more sad that there were so few in the audience.

When it started, I recognized the voice of the reciter, and it turned out to be one of my favourite actors! Samuel West was, among other things, Anthony Blunt in "The Cambridge Spies", a series we have seen several times. (His mother is the wonderful Prunella Scales, Sybil Fawlty in "Fawlty Towers"). West often narrates television documentaries and it has happened that I watched something less interesting just to hear him speak. (I may have mentioned his gorgeous voice and this concert before.)

This time, there was no concert on while we were there, but the kind concierge at the ICC let us in for ten minutes to take pictures and just admire it. He said it is built on springs to prevent the vibrations from the trains going underneath it to reach the hall. It was obvious that he was very proud of it and very proud of his city, too. And rightly so. The City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra is perhaps most famous for having had Sir Simon Rattle as their conductor for almost two decades.


  1. "built on springs to prevent the vibrations from the trains going underneath it to reach the hall." It's interesting what all has to be considered when a building is planned. That interior is gorgeous!

    1. Yes, and how much easier it probably would have been to place the hall somewhere else. But that´s where they wanted it to be, I suppose.

      Some theatres are jewels of architecture, I think. Palaces for the people!