Going to the symphony just got a whole load crappier

Going to the symphony just got a whole load crappier


norman lebrecht

November 26, 2015

They’re ripping up the centre of Birmingham – again. So the CBSO has issued a new video of how to get there.

That’s if you ever manage to get out of the ripped-up station. Last time, I nearly gave up and took the next train home.

birmingham centre


  • Stephen Maddock says:

    Actually the station is now wonderful since the new shopping centre opened in September!

    The city centre is a bit complicated as they pull down the old library, but once finished it will be amazing, and we will also have a brand new Conservatoire, plus trams..,

  • Halldor says:

    Oh for goodness’ sake: it has never, ever been easier. The work on New Street Station is long completed (extensively covered in national media and re-opened by HM the Queen, for the benefit of those who don’t get outside the M25 much), and the station is blissfully clean, spacious and easy to use – like another world, if you’ve had the misfortune to begin your journey at Euston. The city’s main thoroughfare is barely 20 yards from the station’s main entrance and the walking route through Paradise Circus has never been simpler, more clearly signposted or indeed shorter. Failing that, a taxi from New Street Station to Symphony Hall will cost you all of £3.60 and take three minutes. The Town Hall, meanwhile, is a two minute walk from the station.

    Honestly. Here be Dragons, eh? The benighted provinces are an easy butt of jokes for those whose horizons don’t extend beyond Zone 2 but the idea that people who routinely navigate the London Underground, the South Bank or (god help us) the concrete MC Escher sculpture that is the Barbican will need air-sea rescue to find their way home through a city centre that basically only has one main street, is itself pretty hilarious.

    • Stephen Maddock says:

      All true. The reason for the video is simply that with Paradise Forum now closed, and the Frankfurt Christmas Market on, the route is a bit different.

    • Anne63 says:

      Well I always find it embarrassing when people from north of Watford (like me) seem unable to promote their own towns and cities without the obligatory pop at Lundun.

      I find it cheap, chippy, and just it a bit pathetic to be honest.

      • Tim Walton says:

        At least we’ve got two concert halls better than the the Barbican, RFH of QEH.

        If Londoners are stupid enough to stay in London rather than come up to Birmingham to see the world class facilities then more fool them.

        Norman – You really should get your facts strainght before you make stupid comments like these headlines – you of all people should know better – shame on you.

        • norman lebrecht says:

          Shame for what, Tim? Walking from Broad Street to Symphony Hall has been for years one of the most depressing experiences in my life. Walking back is twice as bad. Suppress your wounded local patriotism, Tim.

      • JayBuyer says:

        I find it cheap and chippy to have a go at Brum, which is of necessity undergoing considerable modernisation. The walk from New Street to Symphony Hall couldn’t be simpler. The over 75s, admittedly an important part of the audience, often come by taxi, coach or are delivered to the door by able friends and relatives. The next time Norman ventures to the Outback I’ll take him by the hand at New Street.

      • Halldor says:

        And if London-based writers can one day manage to write about art in the UK regions without the wryly humorous tone, the outdated clichés, the default assumption that any other major city in the UK is somehow terra incognita, the knee-jerk accusation of “chippiness” whenever the objects of the joke decline to chortle compliantly along, it wouldn’t be necessary to keep reacting like this.

        It’s a form of prejudice, one which at its worst costs opportunities, income and jobs. Headlines like Norman’s (and the out-of-date picture with which he accomanies it) can actively harm ticket income. It’ll be a good day when neither capital nor regions feel the need to prove themselves at the expense of the other. Meanwhile, if you can find your way around the Barbican, a couple of well-signposted temporary diversions in Birmingham city centre shouldn’t be beyond your capabilities. I think that’s fairly unarguable.

  • Wally Francis says:

    Well it might be a bit tricky getting around Birmingham just now, but a least when you
    take the trouble you end up in a first class concert hall, with the fabulous CBSO playing
    to a packed hall.

  • Peter Freeman says:

    I always thought I knew the city centre quite well until trying to find my way from New Street Station to Symphony Hall for the Tchaikovsky Competition prizewinners’ concert last month, not having been there since the last WNO season. Losing my bearings, I had to go into the station offices to ask the way. The joke was that I had actually arrived at Moor Street Station and walked through the shopping mall rather than under the tunnel to make some purchases en route. The Chiltern Line from Marylebone, although taking a fraction longer, is an altogether superior experience in my view than Virgin, and very reliable. It also had the last train back that day, but I took the earlier one from New Street, where nothing is open after 11pm in our second city. The new station is a fraction less ugly than its predecessor though. It didn’t look finished to me, especially the dingy platforms with their leaking ceilings. The Symphony Hall auditorium, its acoustics and silent audience are fantastic, though the night I went the average age seemed to be around 75 and it was far from full.