Boston’s Symphony Hall is leased out for student dining

Boston’s Symphony Hall is leased out for student dining


norman lebrecht

July 30, 2020

From the newsletter of Northeastern University:

Northeastern is leasing the Cohen Wing of Boston’s Symphony Hall for “student dining, ‘grab ‘n go’ meal distribution, and student collaboration,” according to a letter from Northeastern administrators sent to the Boston Planning and Development Agency July 16. The university intends to use approximately 14,000 square feet of the space for a six-month period, from Aug. 15 to Feb. 14, 2021.

Northeastern Media Relations did not respond to inquiries about the exact use of this space, but the letter states that “no additional use for this space is anticipated at this time” …

In other words, with the orchestra idle all winter, they may as well rent out the hall.

Read more here.

UPDATE: The BSO would like to clarify that the Cohen Wing (251 Huntington Avenue), which is attached to Symphony Hall is a different building and has a separate address from Symphony Hall (301 Massachusetts Avenue) The use of the Cohen Wing has no impact on audiences or whether the orchestra is playing in Symphony Hall or not.  Also, the current agreement, still in negotiation, is through December, with an option to extend to be decided in November.


  • phf655 says:

    The Cohen wing is a long, low, building that stands next to Symphony Hall. In recent decades it was purchased by the orchestra and adapted for use as the restaurant and gift shop. So its use as a dining facility for Northeastern University, which is a few blocks away, makes sense. Picturing university students at tables on the main floor of Symphony Hall is totally misleading.

  • Karl says:

    I always thought it would make a nice racquetball court.

  • Mustafa Kandan says:

    Nothing to me is more depressing than the effect of Covid 19 on classical music. I despair over the future of this art form as long as this crisis continues. At least one can still eat and drink for consolation, but it is much safer to do so at home.

  • Harold Stover says:

    I give the BSO a small donation each year and as such am a “friend” of the orchestra. As of this writing I have had no communication from the management as to what they intend to do about the previously announced full schedule of 2020-2021 concerts. I‘ve been assuming that at least the fall part of the season isn’t happening, but it would be nice to know what’s going on besides hearing the rental of the Cohen Wing from Northeastern U.

    • phf655 says:

      They have announced that concerts are cancelled through the end of 2020. No news for anything after that.

  • For many years food and drinks were served to the audience on the main floor of Symphony Hall during Boston Pops concerts, so there is an established precedent. Additionally, drinks and food were available backstage for sale to the orchestra but that practice was discontinued for (putting it politely) behavioral reasons.

    • Petros Linardos says:

      They are not leasing the auditorium. The Cohen Wing is in an adjacent building, as others in this blog have already pointed out.

    • Vaquero357 says:

      Is that why the performances after the interval in Pops concerts was often much livelier?? {;-)

  • Vaquero357 says:

    Yes, from the quote above, it doesn’t sound like trestle tables and a cafeteria line are going to be set up inside the auditorium. If the BSO can rent out some ancillary facilities that they’re not using for the next 6 months, more power to ’em! They’re not making a lot at the box office right now….

  • Skippy says:

    I heard that they are leading the main hall for WWF wresting matches.

  • drummerman says:

    sounds like a “win win” situation for both institutions. Just one more example of how the BSO can generate income in ways that many other orchestras can not, ie., by owning their hall.

  • Karl says:

    Looks like they will be renting it out longer. I just got an e-mail from BSO saying that the start of next season is off. “We regret to inform you that we are canceling in-person BSO concerts at Symphony Hall between September 16 – November 28”

    Guess I will have to take up squash.