Perth Concert Hall celebrates 50th anniversary

Perth Concert Hall celebrates 50th anniversary

Perth Concert Hall celebrated its 50th anniversary on 26 January, marking half a century of some of the highest quality performances in the country, and arguably the world.

Built in 1973 and designed by local architects Jeffrey Howlett and Don Bailey (Howlett and Bailey Architects), it was the first concert hall built in Australia after the Second World War. The 1,891-seat hall is the primary venue of the Western Australian Symphony Orchestra, but it has hosted a range of events and performances, from classical ensembles to jazz musicians, comedians and celebrity chefs.

Highlights over the years have included the Berlin Philharmonic, as well as global artists such as Billy Joel, Ella Fitzgerald, Nina Simone and Sting.

Renowned for its consistently high standards of acoustics, Perth Concert Hall was voted the best venue of 20 major Australian concert halls in 2011 in a Limelight magazine survey of performers and critics. In 2016, the building received the Australian Institute of Architects’ National Award for Sustainable Architecture for its brutalist mid-century classical architecture and stark white concrete exterior.

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Perth Concert Hall by Howlett and Bailey Architects.

Image: Courtesy of The City of Perth

The Perth Concert Hall was built at a cost of $3.2 million (a remarkably modest budget compared to the Sydney Opera House, which was built for $102 million and completed in the same year). The auditorium has a 3,000-pipe organ specially commissioned by Ronald Sharp, who was also responsible for the organ in the Opera House).

In 2022, With Architecture Studio and OMA were appointed to design the redevelopment of the building, which will improve accessibility and better preserve the heritage features. The redevelopment is due to start in 2024.

Culture and Arts Minister David Templeman said the red carpets and spiral staircase of the heritage-listed concert hall held “special memories” for many West Australians.

“There are too many highlights to mention, but I remember the Peony Pavilion which took place in the hall as part of Perth International Arts Festival in 2000, and Perth Festival’s contemporary music center which was set up in the hall in 2020,” said Templeman said. “I remember seeing Billy Joel perform a magnificent concert at the Concert Hall that blew the crowd into a frenzy… Here’s to another 50 years of artist and audience enjoyment at our wonderful world-renowned Perth Concert Hall.”

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