Whether you’re a newcomer to the modern classical music scene or already a die-hard fan, it’s worth knowing which are the best places in the world to experience a concert in real life. Nothing beats hearing an orchestra perform Mozart or Bach just feet away from you, and the atmosphere created by an excited crowd of aficionados adds an extra level of elation.
Wherever you are in the world, Europe, America, Australia or beyond, such is the reach of classical music that you will be able to find somewhere near you perfectly suited to a live concert. Here, we’ve put together a list of the most desirable destinations across the globe.
Sydney Opera House, Australia
Perhaps the most recognisable concert hall in the world right now is the soaring outline of the Sydney Opera House. Conceptualised by Danish designer Jørn Utzon, the venue was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II in 1973 and almost immediately became a global icon. Love it or hate it, there’s no denying that this building has become one of the most famous in the modern world. It’s home to Sydney Symphony Orchestra and the main Concert Hall hosts the Sydney Opera House Grand Organ, which boasts over 10, 000 pipes.
Carnegie Hall, New York, USA
Carnegie Hall may not be as visually impressive as the Australian building, but it certainly has a massive presence as a music venue. Opened in 1891 and named after famed Scottish philanthropist Andrew Carnegie, its purpose is to “bring the transformative power of music to the widest possible audience”. It’s well known for its collection of world premiere performances, including works by Strauss, Gershwin and Duke Ellington, often with the composer conducting. A visit to this concert hall could result in a once-in-a-lifetime experience, at one of the most celebrated musical venues in the USA.
Royal Albert Hall, London, UK
A trip to London would not be complete without a peek inside the beautiful Royal Albert Hall. Opened in 1871 by Queen Victoria, the building is named after her husband, Prince Albert, who had died ten years previously. As a memorial it is magnificent, but as a music venue it is historic. Catering for much more than just classical music, the building has seen everything from the Eurovision Song Contest to Pink Floyd to the WWE within its walls, along with concerts from Classic FM, the BBC Proms and Classical Spectacular.
Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg, Russia
Opened in 1860, the Mariinsky Theatre has seen the likes of Tchaikovsky, Prokofiev and Mussorgsky performed on its stage through the years and has been home to both the Imperial Ballet and the Imperial Opera. Nowadays, it does a fantastic job of bringing the past and the present together in a magical, opulent setting, premiering new works alongside the celebrated old masters that form such a vital part of the theatre’s story. Its grand interior must be seen to be believed, and a night spent here will whisk you away into a fairytale of Russian antiquity.
Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall, Japan
This thoroughly modern and impressive piece of architecture is located within the Tokyo Opera City Tower, the seventh-tallest building in Japan’s capital city. Opened in 1997, it’s the newest concert venue on this list but it definitely deserves its accolade of ‘must-see’. The oak interior that forms a pyramid-shaped roof is designed specifically to enhance the acoustics and makes for an interesting environment in which to sit. As a newer building, it is able to utilise the latest advancements in technology to create the ultimate listening experience, with such complete silence created inside that each rustle of the audience can be heard.
Unless you’re a hardcore traveller, it’s unlikely that you’ll experience every one of these classical music venues in a lifetime. However, this is where the power of the internet comes into play. Whether I’m on the road or sat at home, I turn to my phone or tablet for entertainment; I do the daily crossword on The Guardian, play a few hands at Skyvegas and check in with my opponents on WordsWithFriends. Lately, I’ve also been using my handheld devices to get my classical music fix. The release of the BBC’s new Sounds app means that I can access concerts and broadcasts that I might have missed, whereas Idagio gives me a whole new world of curated playlists and accessible classics to listen to at my own pace.Whilst you don’t have to visit a world-class music venue to enjoy listening to Brahms, Beethoven or Vivaldi, it certainly does enhance the experience. You can use internet players and apps to keep you topped up in between, but I can wholeheartedly recommend attending ‘the real thing’ at your nearest concert hall to understand the full potency of those classic pieces of music.