Victoria Concert Hall and Theatre Open House

Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall

After closing for four years for a major refurbishment costing S$158 million, the grand dame of Singapore’s performing arts venue – the Victoria Concert Hall and Theatre is finally open once again. An open house was held over the weekend of 19-20 July 2014 to let the public to check out the newly refurbished concert hall and theatre via a series of free performances. There are also guided tours which gives visitors a look into the history of the Victoria Concert Hall (previously known as the Memorial Hall in memory of Queen Victoria) and Theatre. Back before the $600 million Esplanade – Theatres by the Bay opened, I attended numerous concerts at the Victoria Concert Hall. It’s also one of the places where I took my Associated Board of the Royal School of Music (ABRSM) piano examinations. I don’t remember attending any performances at the Victoria Theatre though. I can’t remember when or what’s the last concert I attended at the concert hall, but it surely is nice to be able to visit again. Going into the circle seats section of the concert hall, it didn’t look very much different from what it used to be. Much of the interior architecture has been preserved, while improvements have been made to improve the acoustics of the hall. This also included reducing the seating capacity from 883 to 673, but that also meant more legroom for the concert goers.

Interior of the Victoria Concert Hall as seen from the circle seats. The number of seats has been reduced from 883 to 673 to improve acoustics.

One of the featured performers for the open house is the T’ang Quartet. The performance opened with “Some Aspects of Peltoniemi Hintrik’s Funeral March” by Aulis Sallinen. It was a little too avant-garde for my taste, so thankfully the pieces that followed were more palatable, featuring Kelly Tang’s arrangements of folk songs Bengawan Solo and Di Tanjung Katong. The performance ended with Astor Piazolla’s Libertango.

The T’ang Quartet performing on stage. Behind them is the Grand Klais Organ with 2012 pipes.

I also took a walk around and took some photos. The space between the concert hall and the theatre is now an air-conditioned atrium featuring a glass roof with a view of the clock tower.

View of the clock tower from the atrium
View of the atrium from the second level
A spiral staircase leading to the circle seats of the concert hall.
Marble staircase leading to and from the concert hall. This doesn’t appear to have changed much from the old days.

I also decided to check out the theatre. Right outside the entrance to the circle seats of the theatre is an interesting Rubik’s cube-like structure. The cube houses the music studio and is clad entirely using the seat backings of the old theatre’s chairs. The cube did raise some controversy earlier, as it looked like coffins to some. The cast iron frame from the old chairs have also been re-used as railing posts as well as supports for the acoustic tuning planks on the walls of the theatre.

The “Rubik’s Cube” outside the theatre, clad entirely from the seat backs from the old theatre. The cube also houses the music studio.

Like the concert hall, the theatre has also undergone improvements to improve acoustics, among other things. I have not been to the theatre, so I didn’t know what it used to look like. The newly refurbished one does look good.

Interior view of the Victoria Theatre as seen from the circle seats. The seating capacity has been reduced from 900 to 614 seats to improve the acoustics.

Performing at the theatre at the time I visited was local dance group Dance Ensemble Singapore (DES) which gave a selection of modern Chinese dances.

Dance Ensemble Singapore (DES) performing “Eternity”
Dance Ensemble Singapore (DES) performing ”Eulogy”

Unfortunately, the open house did not include the clock tower, so I was unable to have a look from up there. It would have been nice if the guided tour includes a visit to the top of the clock tower. Nevertheless, here’s to many great performances at the refurbished Victoria Concert Hall and Theatre. Hope to be back soon!

Victoria Concert Hall and Theatre


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