Built in 1985 at the behest of the late Li Delun, China’s father of classical music, Beijing Concert Hall (BJCH) is the city’s oldest state-of-the-art classical music venue. Historically, BJCH played a vital role in making China a stop on every international orchestra’s Asia tour; today they remain a core part of October’s Beijing Music Festival, still the best music event of every year. These days, programming is sparser than seen at its Chang’an Street neighbours, but what remains is quality.
The concert experience is the most intimate in the city; the 1,000 seats feel deceptively cosy, and there’s not a bad view in the house. Even better, no one stops you at the backstage door (the NCPA is one step away from retina scans). There’s a small bar in the lobby for pre-show refreshment, and stairs/restrooms/seats/lockers are all close by – although they also adhere to strict bag policy. (Attention Beijing theatres: some of us are coming from work). Better still, while the acoustics lack the warmth of the FCCH, experts agree they’re the city’s best, making it the prime location for live recordings. You won’t see many concerts at the BJCH, but you’ll never see a bad show.