Opera house architect Peter Hall’s family upset by concert hall changes

“After all his effort on the design and completion of the space, this feels like another beating of his legacy. You wouldn’t see such changes happening in an old concert hall in Europe,” a- she declared.

Son Henry Hall, a creative director, said he appreciated the ‘delicate situation’ the Opera House found itself in, that it had to ‘move with the times’ to host rock, hip-hop and acoustic concerts as well as symphonies in the concert hall. .

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The textured facades of the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall. Credit:Nick Moire

“In the almost 50 years of being open, I can understand that the acoustic requirements and the function of the room have changed. It was designed to provide optimal acoustics for symphonies. There are so many more genres and styles happening in this space now.

“You have to wonder, but if it was, say, another architect and not Peter Hall, would they have dared to touch it?” he said.

Opera CEO Louise Herron said the concert hall improvements were developed and delivered with the utmost care and respect for the Opera’s national, national and global significance and are consistent with their conservation management plan, which protects the heritage values ​​of the work of Jorn Utzon and Peter Hall.

“We did this by consulting extensively with a number of experts and stakeholders, including the Opera House Design Advisory Committee, the Conservation Board and the Building and Heritage Committee, all of whom were involved. throughout design, planning and construction,” she said.

Peter Hall has completed the plans for the Sydney Opera House Concert Hall. Credit: Rhett Wyman

“I understand that any change at the concert hall is difficult for Peter Hall’s family. We involved them throughout the project. We are committed to better recognizing the significant contribution of Peter Hall – both in how we talk about the work of Hall, Todd and Littlemore [Peter Hall’s company] but also by physical recognition on the spot.

“I look forward to welcoming the Hall family to the Opera next week for the reopening
concerts, so that they can feel the transformative impact of these works, especially acoustically,
who will ensure the future of the concert hall and the legacy of their father’s work for many years to come
coming,” she said.

John Rourke, spokesman for OpusSOH, the team of architects, interior designers and consultants who worked for Hall, Todd and Littlemore to complete the Opera House’s original interiors, said the renovations to the concert hall had been made possible by technology that did not exist when they worked on the building in the 1960s.

“In Jorn Utzon’s departure architecture brief, we were asked to turn a multifunctional hall into a symphony hall. Now we’ve gone the other way – back to the original design brief,” said Rourke, who helped decide the size of the seats in the concert hall.

Willy Hall, son of opera architect Peter Hall.

Willy Hall, son of opera architect Peter Hall.Credit:AAP

OpusSOH and the Hall family hope the Sydney Opera House Trust will grant their request to rename the theater studio Peter Hall Playhouse, in the same way the Utzon Hall was named after the Danish architect of origin who imagined the building.

“The Drama Theater wouldn’t have been there without Peter – it was the machinery space under the stage for the original room designed by Utzon, and when we were told to remove the machinery he suggested turning it into another space for drama,” Rourke said.

Peter Hall, who succeeded Jorn Utzon as principal architect of the Sydney Opera House.

Peter Hall, who succeeded Jorn Utzon as principal architect of the Sydney Opera House.Credit:Ronald Leslie


When Hall reluctantly took on the task of completing the building in the 1960s at the request of then NSW government architect Ted Farmer, he did so in the belief that he would follow the original plans of Utzon, or at least that he would work with him in consultation.

If such plans existed, Hall and his team at Hall, Todd, and Littlemore had no access to them after Utzon left.

At the behest of the then Askin NSW Government, Hall’s team were ordered to change the main hall from a multi-purpose hall for opera, ballet and symphony, to one focusing primarily on the symphony concerts, to meet the needs of the Sydney Symphony Orchestra. which was then run by the ABC.

The new concert hall, which opens next Wednesday, has been modified to accommodate performances ranging from classical music to contemporary concerts as well as plays and other forms of performance.

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