Just in: City of London abandons new concerthall

Just in: City of London abandons new concerthall


norman lebrecht

February 18, 2021

It has just been confirmed that plans for a concerthall to replace the Barbican have been ditched by the City of London.

UPDATE: Heads roll?

18 February 2021 15:28
Subject: Centre for Music

Dear colleague,

I am writing to let you know that today the City Corporation has confirmed that, given the current unprecedented circumstances, the ambitious plans for a Centre for Music will not be progressed. While we are naturally disappointed, we fully understand the City’s decision as it is clearly very difficult to advance a project such as this at this time.

The City has reaffirmed its ongoing commitment to arts and culture, and the important role it will play in the post-pandemic recovery of the City, the capital, and the UK. This confirms support for all the partners, including a further three-year grant for the LSO, two years further funding for Culture Mile, and a major renewal of the Barbican Centre. You can find the full press release here.

Thank you for your contributions and support in developing the Centre for Music.

Best wishes,

Nick Kenyon, Managing Director Barbican Centre
Kathryn McDowell, Managing Director London Symphony Orchestra
Lynne Williams, Principal, Guildhall School of Music & Drama



  • Elizabeth Owen says:

    Excellent news, sense prevails.

  • Nik says:

    Surprise! Said nobody.

  • Rachelle Goldberg says:

    Sir Simon Rattle must have received this information before he stepped down as Conductor

  • Gerald says:

    The Barbican is a design icon. Hopefully they can spend some money to make improvements such as the toilets. Maybe there is an acoustic consultant who can tweak the hall. A new hall has it’s own risks. A lot of money with no promise of success. Let’s embrace the Barbican we have and improve it.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Couldn’t they gut the interior of The Barbican and make it sound better? They’ve got Royal Festival Hall sounding half-way decent now.

    • Una says:

      It only opened in 1982, not two centuries ago. And couldn’t be in a worse place for public transport on that Circle line that now doesn’t even go round a circle anymore. Festival Hall, warts and all, is in a much better place on the main line as Victoria down the road. People from miles outside London can get there!

  • Maria says:

    How many more concert halls does London need when the city of Leeds, the home of Opera North, do outstanding work yet has neither an opera house nor a designated concert hall except the Leeds Town Hall. It is the only other city, not Manchester, outside of London that has two big major choral societies – Leeds Festival Chorus run by Simon Wright and the Leeds Philharmonic with David Hill as conductor. Also Leeds is the biggest financial centre, again not Manchester, outside of London. No attempt at levelling up there yet by a long shot or getting the TransPennine train line moving faster and more frequently. Commonsense prevails regarding London, even though I speak as a Londoner not a northerner.

    • Allen says:

      I think you’ve missed the point. Nobody is saying that London needs “more” concert halls, they are saying that it needs one good one, which is not unreasonable.

      Leeds does seem to have missed out but, nevertheless, many new concert halls have been built outside London. Perhaps it would have had a better case had the Yorkshire Symphony Orchestra not been disbanded in 1955.

      So far as opera houses are concerned, let’s face it, how many UK cities have purpose built opera houses? We have Covent Garden, opened in 1858 and virtually unchanged until the 1990s, and WNO’s theatre in Cardiff, which dare not call itself an opera house. ENO doesn’t have one. You could, perhaps, include the Lowry, but Edinburgh famously tried and failed:


      (I am a Northerner)

    • Christopher Clift says:

      Sorry Maria you appear to have forgotten (or are ignoring) the splendid CBSO Chorus and the equally good City of Birmingham Choir.