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Image © Manchester Camerata via Facebook

A Beginners Guide to Classical Music in Manchester

30 October 2019 | Maisy Farren

Whilst Manchester is famous for producing indie bands, Britpop legends and loud-mouthed frontmen, that’s not all it has to offer in way of a music scene. The classical music scene is lively in this Northern hub, and we’ve got a handy guide to help you crack into it. You may not know your Beethoven from your Bach, but with plenty of classical venues and talented musicians in the city, it won’t be long before you’re not Messiaen around. 


Image credit: The Bridgewater Hall via Facebook
Get to know your venues 
 
You don’t need to be a classical music aficionado to just sit down and let the sounds wash over you so keep these venues on your radar when looking out for classical events. Check out The Bridgewater Hall for rock, pop, jazz and, of course, classical performances throughout the year. This stunning venue hosts an annual classical music season called the International Concert Series and is home to three resident orchestras (more on those later). Check out the events or visit to tour the towering Marcussen organ! 
 
Nestled amongst Manchester University and the MMU on Oxford Road, the Royal Manchester College of Music - RNCM - is the perfect spot for discovering the world of classical. This leading conservatoire is filled to the brim with the talented future talent of music. Both students, teachers and composers travel from afar to work and study at the city’s famous college. RNCM boasts a packed schedule of events all year round. Many of these are student performances and are therefore free or relatively cheap, and there are plenty of cheaper concession tickets available too. 
 

Image credit: The Stoller Hall via Facebook
You can also visit the world famous and newly created Stoller Hall, a stunning venue opened just seven years ago. Based in the specialist Chetham’s School of Music, The Stoller Hall has been expertly designed to host a wealth of unforgettable performances. The venue has been designed to provide unrivalled acoustics throughout the entire auditorium and it even has an extending stage to host an entire symphony orchestra! 
 
It’d be rude not to mention the multi-faceted arts venue HOME when discussing any of Manchester’s creative offerings. Ticking all the boxes as a cinema, theatre and arts centre, HOME covers all genres of music, film and visual art. Keep an eye on their What’s On page to watch out for the odd classical music performance or screening of a ballet, opera or orchestral performance. 


Image credit: BBC Philharmonic via Facebook
Get to know your musicians 
 
A city with two internationally renowned music schools and a lively community of musicians is no doubt going to produce a selection of talented orchestras and music groups. Whilst it might be a household name, few know that the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra is based in Manchester. They hang their hats at Salford’s MediaCityUK and use Bridgewater Hall as their home venue. You can catch regular recordings of the Philharmonic’s stunning recitals on BBC Radio 3, and apply for free tickets to their Salford recording sessions through the BBC website
 
Also using Bridgewater Hall as its home is the revered Hallé orchestra. This ensemble has been part of the Manchester music scene since 1858, having been founded by the city’s own Sir Charles Hallé all those years ago. It’s seen a steady flow of talented classical musicians and ground-breaking composers, winning a bunch of highly sought out awards along the way. The group put on around 70 concerts a year at Bridgewater Hall and a further 40 touring across the UK – so you’ve got plenty of options to check them out
 

Image credit: Manchester Baroque via Facebook
Manchester Baroque are another group filling the city with music, this time in a ground-breaking style! Baroque music is a term used to describe European art music circa 1600 – 1750, and Manchester Baroque aim to re-create these sounds using original period instruments. Led by the one of Europe’s famed specialists in historical performance, Dr Pauline Nobes, the group aim to introduce Manchester to the beauty of this long-forgotten art form and help audiences understand their fascinating vision.  
 
Still not convinced by a world of orchestras, symphonies and stringed instruments? Join the Manchester Camerata for an unforgettably unique musical experience. Described by The Times as ‘Britain’s most adventurous orchestra’, Manchester Camerata frequently collaborate with world famous bands, play contemporary festivals and perform live scores of famous soundtracks. They’re the talent behind the popular Hacienda Classical, a full orchestra performing re-imagined covers of MCR’s acid-house and rave classics. They’re also a registered charity working to help young people use music to overcome barriers in their lives and pioneering leading research in music-led dementia therapy! What’s not to love? 
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