London Symphony Orchestra

Topic

view of Seaside, Florida

When orchestras rack their brains to discover the ways that they are relevant to their communities, they invariably come up with a wide range of replies that almost never includes their concert hall. Yet there is little else that could appear on that list that is as permanent and concrete as the daily encounter of a community with its concert hall.

Powell and Moya's Museum of London, walled off in a roundabout. Image credit: John Salmon.

London should think carefully about where to build its newest cultural venue. And Léon Krier’s Regent’s Park proposal beats Boris’s commercial opportunism, says Hank Dittmar.

Léon Krier: London Music Forum, 2016.

There is a choice location for London’s unrivalled musical offerings that, as far as I know, is yet unconsidered – namely, Park Square and Crescent. Here, in the green “vestibule” of Regents Park, in proximity to the Royal Academy of Music, a new concert hall, a chamber music hall, a state of the art educational facility, practice rooms, restaurants and exhibition galleries can form a new urban ensemble that includes the complementary amenities required for successfully supporting the London Symphony Orchestra’s mission.

Modernist buildings loom faceless and jeering over the long-settled streets of the City of London.

The modern concert venue is designed with only two things in view: to create a space uniquely designed for a kind of laboratory listening, and to announce to the world the arrival of yet another architect of genius. The combination of inner sterility and outer megalomania essentially cuts the venue off from the life around it. The resulting hall is not part of the city but stands in opposition to it, defiant testimonial to a dying culture.

London's skyline

Both the LSO and London itself need and deserve a new concert hall – one that is fitting for the future of the city’s prestigious musical life and one that makes sense for the sake of its own success. It should be a beautiful and harmonious part of the face and community of London, and not a thumb in its eye and a middle finger to everyone else.

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