In the April issue of Standpoint magazine, I have a stab at assessing who actually needs a new concert hall in the second decade of the 21st century. Paris has just built one, amid ongoing controversy. Munich has baulked. Warsaw has green-lit a project. And London has got a ‘feasibility study’.
But a good orchestral hall costs half a billion in hard currency and public support for a declining art form is getting harder to rally.
All agree, for instance, that Nouvel has built Paris a modern marvel (even if the architect removed his name from the building over its over-hasty completion). The questions are whether the new Philharmonie is worth the money—does it represent £300 million of added value?—and whether it is needed at all. Paris took a political decision to stop orchestral music at the Pleyel because its audience was ageing and bourgeois. The Philharmonie is meant to attract young couples who live around the city’s periphery. But can they afford the tickets? Will tourists find it? In an age when people access concerts online, regardless of acoustic distinction, can a new concert hall be justified at the expense of a children’s hospital or an old-age home?
Read the full essay here.