Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

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Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
Glasgow International Concert Hall
Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow - - 2186899.jpg
Address 2 Sauchiehall Street G2 3NY
Owner Glasgow City Council
Type Concert hall
Capacity 2475 (Main Auditorium)
500 (Strathclyde Suite)
300 (Lomond Foyer)
300 (Clyde Foyer)
300 (Exhibition Hall)
120 (Buchanan Suite)
Opened 1990
Years active 1990 - Present
Architect Sir Leslie Martin

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall is an arts venue, in the city of Glasgow, Scotland. It is operated by Glasgow Life, an agency of Glasgow City Council, which also runs Glasgow’s City Halls and Old Fruitmarket venue. The Catering Department is operated by Encore Hospitality.


Planned as the Glasgow International Concert Hall and constructed in the late 80s, the building was officially opened in October 1990,[1] after what had been a controversial construction programme, beset with technical and financial problems.

It was a byproduct of Glasgow's 1990 City of Culture status, and was intended as a replacement for St. Andrews Hall, adjacent to the Mitchell Library, which had been destroyed by fire in 1962. It was seen as a major symbol of the city's regeneration after years of neglect and deprivation. The hall occupies a site at the junction of Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street, which was once home to the Glasgow NAAFI, and the former Parliamentary Road, which was rendered derelict after the building of Buchanan bus station in 1978. The development also included plans for a massive shopping mall, which would become the Buchanan Galleries, although it was almost a decade later before this was realised.

It is often used for non-music events, such as graduation ceremonies for nearby Glasgow Caledonian University. In addition, the auditorium area is insulated by a massive rubber membrane built into the floor - intended to dampen out noise and vibration from the Subway tracks which run underneath.

During the building phase, it attracted much criticism from the press owing to its huge cost and the management of its construction, its over-imposing facade and even the acoustics of the main auditorium have been criticised. The project ran out of money during construction and building work stopped in 1989. The East wall of the building was left without sandstone cladding for the first 6 years of its life, some debate exists over whether this unsightly mess was in anticipation of the Buchanan Galleries which now adjoins onto this part of the building, or whether this was due to the financial problems. It earned the nickname of "Lally's Palais" (Lally's Palace) due to Lord Provost Pat Lally's leading role in the development.[citation needed]

James performing in the Royal Concert Hall in 2011

The Glasgow International Concert Hall was officially opened on 5 October 1990, by Her Royal Highness The Princess Royal. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra (then the Scottish National Orchestra) gave the very first performance at the Royal Gala Opening Concert, as a showpiece for Glasgow being awarded the European City of Culture.[1] The programme featured two new works by Scottish composers, Carillon by Thomas Wilson and Rainbow 90 by Thea Musgrave, both specially commissioned for the occasion by Glasgow City Council, as well as pieces by Beethoven and Vaughan Williams. The first non-classical concert was by The Blue Nile.

After completion, it was granted Royal Status and was renamed Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.[1]


It was designed by Sir Leslie Martin and Edinburgh-based company RMJM and partners commenced its construction in 1988. In April 1988, the first stone was laid and it would be 30 months before the final opening in October 1990. It is the winner of the 1990 Sir Hugh Casson Award for worst new building of the year,and was described as "a building which looks as if it was designed in 1950 in, say, Bulgaria" [2]

Performance spaces and facilities

The Main Auditorium is the largest performance space in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, and can seat 2475 people. Other spaces in the hall include the 500 capacity Strathclyde Suite, the 300 capacity Exhibition Hall, the 120 capacity Buchanan Suite, the 300 capacity Lomond and Clyde foyers, the 100 capacity Strathclyde Bar, 150 capacity City of Music Studio and the 40 capacity VIP Room. The hall also has a gift shop, five bars and café.

The Green Room was decorated in 2009 and re-named "The City of Music Studio" to bring it back up to date and to celebrate Glasgow's UNESCO City of Music status, as it had gone largely unchanged since the concert halls opening in 1990. The City of Music Studio is known for the view overlooking Buchanan Street and its late night jazz programme.[citation needed]

The Cafe Bar was re-branded and refurbished in 2011 as café encore following Encore's takeover of the catering department.

The Royal Scottish National Orchestra recently moved to a purpose-built new home located in the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall. At the heart of their new home is Glasgow’s newest performance space: an acoustically adjustable, 600-seat auditorium that provides world-class rehearsal and recording facilities for the Orchestra. The Royal Scottish National Orchestra Centre also houses a dedicated education space, the Robertson Learning and Engagement Centre.

A bespoke four manual Copeman Hart digital organ and associated speakers was permanently installed in the hall in July 2015.

Notable events

It is the Glasgow performance base of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and has hosted many international orchestras, soloists and conductors, including the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, the St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra, National Youth Orchestras of Great Britain, Scotland and Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, Celia Bartoli, Julian Lloyd Webber and Maxim Vengerov.

As well as classical music, the hall plays host to opera and ballet, musical theatre, talks, rock and pop, folk, world and country, swing and comedy.

On Sunday 9 October 1993 Nelson Mandela chose Glasgow as the place to formally receive the freedoms of 9 British cities. He entered the Hall to a choral rendition of Down by the Riverside and received a standing ovation. In 1994 the legendary Bob Hope took to the stage to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings.

It is also the main venue for the Celtic Connections Festival.

In 2011, it was the venue for the final of Miss Scotland.

It is the venue for the annual All Scotland Irish Dancing Championships held in February, and has also been the venue for the Irish Dancing World Championships twice.

See also


  1. ^ a b c "Royal Concert hall Glasgow, Concerts in Glasgow, Concert Venues". Express by Holiday Inn - Glasgow Theatreland. 2005. Retrieved 2009-10-25. 
  2. ^ Private eye, 757. p. 9. 

External links

  • The Glasgow Royal Concert Hall
  • Photographs of the Royal Concert Hall in Glasgow

Coordinates: 55°51′52″N 4°15′11″W / 55.864503°N 4.252921°W / 55.864503; -4.252921

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