SA looks interstate and overseas for concert hall inspiration

Music venues across Australia, Asia, the United States and United Kingdom are being examined by the SA Government as it considers whether to build a new purpose-built concert hall for the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra.

Aug 06, 2021, updated Aug 06, 2021
Melbourne's Recital Centre has been considered in a SA concert hall scoping study. Photo: Codex, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Melbourne's Recital Centre has been considered in a SA concert hall scoping study. Photo: Codex, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

A long-awaited draft scoping report analysing the need for an acoustic concert hall in Adelaide has been handed to the State Government and key arts stakeholders.

The report, commissioned by the State Government in June last year and completed by local architecture firm Baukultur, analysed the benefits of building a new concert venue in Adelaide to serve as a home for the Adelaide Symphony and Youth Orchestras.

It was initially due to be complete last year but the Government didn’t appoint Baukultur to conduct the scoping work until November.

A spokesperson from the Department of the Premier and Cabinet told InDaily that the Government had so far spent $165,800 on the draft scoping report.

“Once finalised following industry consultation, it is envisaged the report will be made available more broadly,” they said.

The Department said the draft scoping study short-lists options for a concert hall in Adelaide and considers the proposed venue’s governance model.

Several multi-million-dollar concert halls across the globe were also analysed as case studies.

They include Melbourne’s Recital Centre and Ian Potter Southbank Centre, The Sage music centre in Gateshead in the United Kingdom, EMPAC and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, Singapore’s Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, and the Tongyeong International Music Hall in South Korea.

The Melbourne Recital Centre opened in 2009 and cost the Victorian Government $74.5 million to plan and build.

It features two auditoria, the largest of which seats up to 1000 people over two levels.

Sage Gateshead, which opened in 2004 at a cost of over £70 million, is both a concert venue and centre for music education.

New York’s EMPAC – or Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center – is a multivenue arts centre that seats 1200 people in its concert hall.

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The Sage in Gateshead. Photo: Neil Turner from Sowerby Bridge, United Kingdom, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

EMPAC in New York. Photo: UpstateNYer, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

According to government tender documents released last year, building a concert hall in Adelaide could boost music careers, attract more international students, and serve as a hub for music research.

The documents stated the proposed new venue could be managed by a governance board “with significant State Government involvement” similar to the Adelaide Oval Stadium Management Authority or the Adelaide Festival Centre Trust.

Adelaide Symphony Orchestra managing director Vince Ciccarello has long-called for the State Government to invest in a concert hall, telling InDaily previously that the orchestra’s most regular performance venue, the Adelaide Town Hall, placed the ASO at a disadvantage as it had inadequate capacity and facilities.

Ciccarello has also called for the proposed concert hall to be “much more than just a high-quality auditorium for classical and orchestral music”, providing music education and community services “to become a home of music in South Australia”.

Once the scoping report is finalised, the Government will start developing a full business case that will analyse the viability of building a concert hall.

The Department said work is already underway to “define key elements of the business case”, which was funded in the State Budget and is due to be complete by the end of this year.

An underground, three-level concert hall was once included in early plans for Lot Fourteen at the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site, but it has since been removed.

Other potential sites for a concert hall that have been flagged by local architects include Elder Park and Botanic Park.

It comes after the State Government last night released the final design for the $200 million Aboriginal Art and Cultures Centre slated for Lot Fourteen.

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