Forbidden City Concert Hall (FCCH) (中山公园音乐堂)

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Image: Gene Zhang via Wikimedia Commons
Xichang'an Jie

For Beijing’s best concert experience, the Forbidden City Concert Hall (FCCH) has it all – programming, ambiance, and an audience-friendly environment. Enter through the surrounding Zhongshan Park and feel the city stress vanish into the whispering pines. The front entrance has ticket-takers, not metal detectors, and although lockers are available, no one measures your shoulder bag and body blocks you from entering (Poly Theatre, we’re talking to you).

The compact lobby makes the 1400-seat theatre easily accessible, and its warm and resonant acoustics are unique to Beijing venues. This makes FCCH ideally suited for anything from Mahlerian-sized orchestras to Baroque duets. Early Music’s delicate sound is tailored for intimate venues or churches, but this hall weaves these silken threads into a rich aural tapestry.

This is just as well, because the FCCH’s annual Early Music Festival, held every April, is just one example of the hall’s quality-over-quantity programming. This was the first venue to host Beethoven and Bach cycles, and the first to champion then-controversial (to box offices) chamber music. Furthermore, their summer Gateway to Music Festival presents top names in Western and Chinese traditional music for under 100RMB per ticket. Best of all, the FCCH ushers have trained their audiences in the art of listening – barring aberrations, this is a quiet crowd. And if you’re desperate to meet the musicians, you can slip backstage near the box office. All things considered, concert experiences don’t come better than this.

Venue name: Forbidden City Concert Hall (FCCH) (中山公园音乐堂)
Opening hours: varies
English address: Xichang'an Jie (inside Zhongshan Park) Tiananmen, Dongcheng district
Chinese address: 东城区西长安街中山公园内
  • 4 out of 5 stars