Concert hall showcases treasures of note
Scotland’s oldest purpose-built concert venue – St Cecilia’s Hall – has reopened after a two-year, £6.5 million redevelopment.
The historic University building has been thoughtfully restored, transforming its concert room and music museum into an elegant, engaging space.
The refurbished venue, in the city’s Old Town, is home to the University’s world-class collection of musical instruments. It gives people a chance to learn about how musical instruments’ role has changed over time, and hear them performed.
The striking Sypert Concert Room, named in recognition of the generous support of George and Joy Sypert, has retained its distinctive oval shape and, in the months ahead, will host an eclectic array of performances for up to 200 people.
St Cecilia’s Hall’s four exhibition galleries showcase more than 400 instruments from the University’s outstanding music collection, which spans four centuries.
The Binks Gallery charts the history of the keyboard, exhibiting a selection of historically significant instruments, including the renowned Pascal Taskin harpsichord, made in 1769.
The visual appeal of harpsichords is celebrated in the 1812 Gallery, which displays stunning instruments with lids emblazoned with vibrant and intricately decorated scenes.
A variety of stringed, woodwind, brass and percussion instruments are on show in the Wolfson Gallery, where visitors can discover how technology has changed the way music sounds.
The Laigh Hall showcases how music is played in groups and how people throughout the world have used instruments. Among its many attractions is the Mayuri, an elaborate 19th century stringed instrument from India, in the shape of a peacock.
We are delighted to reopen our doors and, for the first time, St Cecilia's Hall will be open five days a week. Visitors to the museum will be immersed in the sounds of our instruments, as students and experts will play them throughout the day, so no two visits will be the same.
Page\Park Architects have taken inspiration from the shapes and intricate craftsmanship found in the collection to create a truly unique building.
The new entrance on Niddry Street will draw visitors in from the Royal Mile with a distinctive gate in the silhouette of a harpsichord. Decorative details from instruments appear throughout the building’s interior.
The redevelopment project generated more than £2 million from outside the University.
Alongside philanthropic support, major funding was received from The National Lottery and Edinburgh World Heritage.
The Hall features an in-house conservation studio, supported by the Dunard Fund. A large window into the studio lets visitors see University conservators treating and preserving instruments.
A teaching lab, supported by the Friends of St Cecilia’s Hall, enables students and researchers to learn about the collection.
St Cecilia’s Hall is the only venue in the world where it is possible to hear 18th century musical instruments played in an 18th century concert hall.
Built in 1763, it was originally commissioned by the Edinburgh Musical Society and was designed by architect Robert Mylne.
Since its construction, the Georgian building has had many uses including a school, a masonic lodge and a dance hall.
St Cecilia’s Hall embodies both Edinburgh’s rich intangible heritage – the cultural and intellectual melting pot that was 18th century Edinburgh – as much as our tangible, architectural heritage. Edinburgh World Heritage is proud to have been a partner in the conservation of this very special concert hall and exhibition space which reminds us that Edinburgh has always been, and should remain, a city in which art, music and ideas intermingle and flourish.
The Hall's revitalised role as a public concert venue continues in June with a series of early music performances.
Visit St Cecilia's Hall
Tuesday – Friday: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, last admission 4:30 pm.
Saturday: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm, last admission 4:30 pm.
Saturdays in August only: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm, last admission 4:30 pm.
Niddry Street, Cowgate, EH11NQ
Events: SCHEvents@ed.ac.uk 0131 650 2413
Tours and educational classes: SCHGroupVisits@ed.ac.uk 0131 650 2413
Musical instrument inquiries: MIMEd@ed.ac.uk 0131 650 2414