Concertgebouw rips out seats, instals drinks tables

Concertgebouw rips out seats, instals drinks tables


norman lebrecht

October 05, 2020

This is Holland’s premier concert hall, adapted for Covid distancing and ease of drinking.




  • Alexander says:

    How creative.They apparently are going to start season with Shubert “Trout” and continue with “La Traviata”, putting their accents on “Libiamo” 😉
    PS options are possible

    • Greg Bottini says:

      Wonderful comment, Alexander!
      The Concertgebouw’s re-do reminds me of the good old SF Symphony Summer Pops days with Arthur Fiedler, where the main floor of the Civic Auditorium had tables set up where one could sit and enjoy food and drinks while listening to that always excellent conductor (and a slew of great guest artists).
      Good for the Dutch!

    • Patricia says:

      And Handel’s “Water Musick.” Debussy’s “La Mer.”

  • V. Lind says:

    Damn’ clever way to go. Observe social distance, get bar sales in safely. Now, all they need to do is sort out the loo problems…

    • John D Goodwin says:

      This being Amsterdam there are no “bar sales”. You get your free glass of white or red wine, orange juice, still or sparkling water (or more than one glass if you’re greedy) in the interval. No cash bars. These tables will be used for that purpose.

      • John Kelly says:

        Yes! I was amazed that in the intermission that the booze is free! Must be Dutch Social Democracy!

      • V. Lind says:

        How civilised. Still, it solves the crowding-at-the-bar issue. And the less-civilised societies that charge for the booze could make some revenue from it if they took up this logical use of social distancing.

        I would think, however that tearing out seats (and storing them for later replacement) is not cheap, nor either buying appropriate chairs and tables.

        • SVM says:

          I am against the “free drink with your ticket” idea. It is unfair on those of us who do not have expensive taste, since the people drinking a glass of tap water are subsidising those quaffing a bottle of premium wine. Speaking as somebody who normally goes to concerts on my own and who drinks alcohol only when socialising with other people, I resent the idea of my concert ticket becoming more expensive to enable others to have free booze.

          By all means ensure free water is readily available (because dehydration increases the risk of coughing, which ruins concerts), but there is no common good served by making free alcohol available.

          And I *am* in favour of concert tickets including free public transport in the price (which seems to be a common practice among some venues in Germany), since that serves a common good (cutting air pollution and congestion from cars/taxis).

      • SVM says:

        I hope, further to Goodwin’s comment, that the tables will be used for drinking **only** during the interval, and that patrons will not be permitted to drink once the performance has recommenced.

    • Patricia says:

      When Symphony Hall has the Boston Pops (yawn) they set up tables and serve drinks. Possibly it makes the music more palatable.

  • The last concerts of the RCO are on Youtube with the begginings of Makella. There’s a symphony of Sibelius, a composer the orchestra plays too rarely and a concerto of the always excellent Beatrice Rana.

  • Ira says:

    This is not the first time in the history of the building that it’s ben so!

  • Mock Mahler says:

    They have already streamed several concerts with this arrangement, including two conducted by Makela. The audience can still get up a substantial round of applause. (Perhaps the drinks help the volume.) More problematic is having the winds and percussion draped over steep rear risers that used to hold audience. Happily, the musicians and the Concertgebouw’s acoustics seem to be coping.

  • Brian says:

    Nice touch, though if people are drinking that means they’re not keeping their face masks on. Seems like the idea could be self-defeating.

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Historically informed practice! Any news on their alcohol policy?

  • Berend says:

    A great way to make concerts possible in these times!

    The headline implies a drastic change of interior, but the furniture options in Het Concertgebouw are flexible. The hall can change from concert seats to dance floor in a few hours. It is perfectly possible for them to have a long table brunch event and a sold out evening concert on the same day, in the same hall.

    Drinks are always included in your ticket. Apparently, they want to keep this friendly gesture alive during Covid times, despite the lack of a break.

    I have had the pleasure to listen to a lovely Beethoven and Martinu concert there some weeks ago. Directions for the public were clear, distancing measures were respected, the public was silent and concentrated and the music was exciting. During the concert, not much reminded me of Covid, other than the taste of wine during the symphony and the abundance of legroom.

  • Reminds me of when the Minnesota Orchestra did Leonard Slatkin’s “Rug Concerts” in the 70s. The whole seating floor was platformed over with shag carpet and people would bring pillows to recline on. It was the opposite of social distancing.

  • Dennis says:

    I hope I’m nearing my end – a shame I’m not a few decades older – as the growing inanity and endless covid obsession of this world is too much to bear. What a stupid, paranoid, ugly, intolerable world we live.

  • m says:

    Moving to Holland.

  • Rushwarp says:

    So what? It was set up exactly like this in the 19th century !