Symphony Nova Scotia eyes new concert hall, possibly Halifax waterfront

Haley Ryan, Metro Halifax
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HALIFAX - The director of Symphony Nova Scotia says a new concert hall in Halifax would bring a “whole new listening experience for the audience,” and is hoping a recent petition can grab the attention of Mayor Mike Savage and regional council.

Joel Plaskett performs with Symphony Nova Scotia in a show last year at the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium.

A petition launched on by 15-year-old Rileigh Ellefsen, who plays oboe in the Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, asks HRM to consider building a new concert hall on the Halifax waterfront as a better home for the local symphony and way to attract international acts.

“It is more than necessary, and it’s a fantastic idea,” said symphony director Bernhard Gueller on Tuesday.

According to the petition, which has over 500 signatures, the Halifax waterfront would be an ideal location for a new hall because it would draw tourists to the urban core at all times of the year.

“Halifax is known for its waterfront, but it is never very popular while it is cold outside. However, concert halls are open year-round, meaning there would always be something going on for tourists to see,” states the petition.

The Rebecca Cohn Auditorium is currently the best spot for classical music and dance performances, but Gueller said it doesn’t have the proper acoustics since it was originally built as a lecture hall with only 1,024 seats.

Playing in better space would take the orchestra to a “higher level,” Gueller said, because right now notes can’t linger in the air at the Cohn.

“It would be a completely new listening experience for the audience,” Gueller said. “It makes it also very attractive to other artists and orchestras to come here and play.”

He said having a dedicated concert hall would be a “point of prestige” for the city, since Halifax is one of the only Canadian capitals without one.

Pop and rock acts would also be able to use the waterfront hall, and part of the petition calls for a musical museum to celebrate Maritime favourites like The Rankins, Lennie Gallant and Joel Plaskett.

“It should even add to being proud of this thing, to celebrate their own culture,” Gueller said.


Organizations: Nova Scotia Youth Orchestra, Cohn

Geographic location: Halifax

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