The Bridgewater Hall Manchester is an internationally renowned concert venue hosting over 250 performances every year from classical music to pop, rock and jazz. It is best known as the home to the Halle Orchestra as well as the BBC Philharmonic and the Manchester Camerata. It is one of the top music venues in the UK and one of the main attractions in Manchester.
Opened in 1996, the Bridgewater Hall Manchester has a fascinating architectural history. Manchester’s old Free Trade Hall which was the former home of the Halle Orchestra, despite being a much-loved landmark in the city, was ill-suited to the acoustic needs demanded by modern orchestras and audiences. After the foundation of the Central Manchester Development Corporation in 1988, the site of a former bus station and car park was chosen as the site for a new concert hall that would boast outstanding acoustics.
The Bridgewater Hall Manchester is unusual in that it is made mostly from solid concrete cast like a huge sculpture. Its roof looks as though it is hovering, weightless, above the building. The building’s entire structure floats free of the ground on nearly three hundred earthquake-proof giant springs with the result that there is no rigid connection between the building and its foundations – quite a feat for an edifice that weighs over 22 thousand tons. The Bridgewater Hall Manchester was built this way for good reason. Its acoustics are shielded from any outside noise or vibration. So successful was this soundproofing that when the Manchester bomb exploded in 1966, the workmen inside didn’t hear the explosion despite it only being around half a mile away.
The 2341-seater auditorium of the Bridgewater Hall Manchester is dominated by a huge pipe organ. Made from wood and burnished metal, it completely covers the rear wall. It was the largest musical instrument of its kind to be installed in Britain for over a century and is rightly regarded as the jewel in the crown of one of Europe’s finest concert halls. Such is the power of this organ that special performances of great organ symphonies such as Saint-Saens 3rd Symphony sound particularly impressive in the Bridgewater Hall Manchester.
The Bridgewater Hall Manchester is situated in the city centre and is easily accessible by tram, bus, train and road.