This concert hall is being built in 5 and 10-note donations

This concert hall is being built in 5 and 10-note donations


norman lebrecht

November 02, 2015

In the new issue of Standpoint, out today, I write about what’s happening in Bochum, a profoundly depressed town in Germany’s Ruhr region that has lost its steel, coal and lately its car industry.

So Bochum is building a new concert hall, right?

bochum concert hall


Bochum, nearly bankrupt, has grasped music as a means of salvation. (Steven) Sloane, the orchestra’s executive director as well as its chief conductor, persuaded the town to let him build a new concert hall and then called on its citizens to help. Out of a budget of €35 million, half has been donated by individuals, in gifts from €5 upwards. 

The hall is being constructed around a mid-19th-century church, its deconsecrated nave offering a long corridor of light in ambient gloom. Every gifted euro cent, every inch of space, is being made to count. Teaching and rehearsal studios occupy the peripheral rooms. When it opens next summer, there will be music in the hall from morning to night, all year round. The contrast with Simon Rattle’s half-baked plan for a half-billion pound vanity hall in the City of London could hardly be more pronounced. As London looks to its bankers, Bochum looks to its bootstraps. No question which has a better understanding of the value of music in an age of uncertainty.

Read the full article here.


  • Anne63 says:

    So presumably Birmingham’s Symphony Hall is also a “vanity hall”?

  • Simon S. says:

    This is remarkable, indeed. As you point out, the city is close to bankruptcy. Furthermore, opponents of the project could point to the fact that there are already two concert halls within less than 30 minutes by car or train from Bochum (Essen and Dortmund) and call for Bochum to focus on its so far main cultural asset: the Schauspielhaus, which has always been among Germany’s leading theatres.

    As the opponents had something like a point, the project was redrafted from a mere concert hall to a “music centre” with rooms for the music school and a focus education as well as on contact and exchange between classical musics and other forms of cultural expression.


  • RW2013 says:

    Will the hall be called Entertainment Mr. Sloane?

  • Stweart says:

    Ditto Birmingham ! The city reborn as it built Symphony Hall as part of its regeneration after Thatcher Ruhrined its industry

    • Anne63 says:

      Ah yes, the industry that produced the world beating Austin Allegro. That industry?

      Tell me, Stewart, who closed more coal mines, Harold Wilson or Margaret Thatcher? (Answer can be found in the history section of the NUM’s website.)

      • Stweart says:

        Such a narrow view point ! More research and knowledge needed.

        • Anne63 says:

          “Knowledge” from the National Union of Mineworkers:

          “Between the years 1957 and 1963, no less than 264 collieries were closed, while the number of miners fell by nearly 30 per cent. During this six-year period, Scotland lost 39 per cent of its pits, while 30 per cent of those in South Wales, Northumberland and Durham were wiped out.

          Throughout the 1960s, with a Labour Government in office from 1964, the pit closure programme accelerated; it decimated the industry. During this period, nearly 300 more pits were closed, and the total workforce slumped from over 750,000 in the late 1950s down to 320,000 by 1968.”

  • Jonathan Grieves-Smith says:

    Steven has done a terrific job in Bochum for many years and what a super orchestra this is – bravo Bochum!