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The Hallé

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Hallé Orchestra
Antony Inglis rehearsing with the Hallé and the Leeds Festival Chorus
Founded1858; 166 years ago (1858)
LocationManchester, England
Concert hallBridgewater Hall
Principal conductorSir Mark Elder
WebsiteOfficial website
Logo of Hallé Orchestra

The Hallé is an English symphony orchestra based in Manchester, England. Since 1996, the orchestra has been resident at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.


In May 1857, the pianist and conductor Charles Hallé set up an orchestra to perform at the Manchester Art Treasures Exhibition, which it did until October. Hallé decided to continue working with the orchestra as a formal organisation, and it gave its first concert under those auspices on 30 January 1858.[1] The orchestra's first home was the Free Trade Hall. By 1861 the orchestra was in financial trouble, and it performed only two concerts that year.[2][3] In 1888 German violinist Willy Hess become leader of The Hallé, a role he held until 1895. From its opening in 1893 he was also the principal professor of violin at the Royal Manchester College of Music.[4]

old newspaper classified advertisement with twenty lines of text in small type
The Hallé's first programme (1858)

Hans Richter served as music director from 1899 to 1911. During his tenure, the orchestra gave the first performance of the Symphony No. 1 of Sir Edward Elgar.[5]

In 1943 the orchestra was again in crisis, having diminished in size to 30 players.[2] Over the next 27 years, from 1943 to 1970, the orchestra's next music director, Sir John Barbirolli, restored the Hallé to national prominence. On 3 February 1946 The Hallé Orchestra and Chorus (conducted by John Barbirolli) performed Aida at Belle Vue, Manchester.[6] In addition to playing in all parts of the UK, in these years the orchestra visited Germany, Austria, Holland, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Spain, Portugal, Southern Rhodesia, Yugoslavia, Turkey, Italy, Greece, Switzerland, France, Scandinavia, Central and Southern America and the West Indies.[7] Together, they made many recordings, including the first recording of Ralph Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 8, of which they also gave the first performance. During Barbirolli's tenure, one of the most notable orchestra members was concertmaster Martin Milner, who served in that capacity from 1958 to 1987. Barbirolli regarded Milner as his "right-hand man" and once wrote in appreciation to him: "You are the finest leader I have ever had in my fairly long career."[8]

Kent Nagano was principal conductor of the orchestra from 1992 to 1999. The orchestra moved from the Free Trade Hall to the Bridgewater Hall in 1996 as its primary concert venue. During his tenure, Nagano received criticism for his expensive and ambitious programming, as well as his conducting fees.[9] However, poor financial management at the orchestra separately contributed to the fiscal troubles of the orchestra. The orchestra faced major financial problems during the late 1990s, including a £1.3 million deficit in 1998, to the point where the existence of the orchestra was threatened with loss of funding from the Arts Council and ultimately bankruptcy.[10]

The Hallé performing at Jodrell Bank Observatory.

During 1997 there was an eight-month period when the orchestra had no executive director. Leslie Robinson served for two years as chief executive after that period, starting changes to the orchestra to start to bring under control the orchestra's financial troubles. These included public fund-raising, which netted £2 million, cutting the number of people on the orchestra board in half, and reducing the number of musicians in the orchestra from 98 to 80. [citation needed]

In 1999, John Summers became the orchestra's chief executive, and continued Robinson's fiscal practices to restore greater financial security to the orchestra.[11] In 2001, the Arts Council awarded the orchestra a £3.8 million grant to allow it to pay off accumulated debts and increase musician salaries, which had been frozen for 4 years.[12]

In September 2000, Sir Mark Elder took up the position of music director, having been appointed to the post in 1999.[13] His concerts with the orchestra have received consistently positive reviews, and he is generally regarded as having restored the orchestra to high critical and musical standards.[14] In 2004 Elder signed a contract to extend his tenure through 2010,[15] and in May 2009 the Hallé announced a further extension to 2015.[16] In November 2013, the Hallé announced the further extension of Elder's contract through "at least 2020".[17][18]

One of the orchestra's ideas was to try to find alternative stage dress to the traditional "penguin suits", but this idea did not come to fruition.[19] The orchestra has also begun to issue new CD recordings under its own label.[20] In 2017, the orchestra began a series of recordings in collaboration with the film composer, Benson Taylor.[21]

In March 2006, the orchestra was forced to cancel a planned tour of the United States because of the cost and administrative difficulties in obtaining visas for the musicians, a result of the tougher visa regulations intended to combat potential terrorist attacks.[22]

The orchestra appointed its first-ever principal guest conductor, Cristian Mandeal, in 2006. He served in this post until 2009.[23] In February 2008, the orchestra announced the appointment of Markus Stenz as its second and next principal guest conductor, starting in 2009.[24] Past assistant conductors have included Edward Gardner, Rory Macdonald, Andrew Gourlay, and Ewa Strusińska (2008–2010), the first female conductor named to a UK assistant conductorship.[25] In September 2016, Jonathon Heyward became the Hallé's assistant conductor, whose duties include musical direction of the Hallé Youth Orchestra.[26] The current leader of the Hallé is Roberto Ruisi. The orchestra's current assistant conductor is Delyana Lazarova, through the 2022-2023 season. The orchestra's current head of artistic planning is Anna Hirst.

Summers retired as chief executive in July 2020.[27] The orchestra's current chief executive is David Butcher, who was named to the post in February 2020 and assumed the post in July 2020.[28] In February 2023, Elder stated his intention to stand down as music director of the orchestra at the close of the 2023-2024 season.[29] Elder is scheduled to take the title of conductor emeritus with the orchestra as of the 2024-2025 season.[30]

In February 2023, Kahchun Wong first guest-conducted The Hallé.[31] In June 2023, The Hallé announced the appointment of Wong as its next principal conductor and artistic advisor, effective with the 2024-2025 season, with an initial contract of 5 seasons.[30]

Notable premieres


Along with the Hallé Orchestra, the Hallé Concerts Society also supports a number of ensembles.

Hallé Choir[edit]

The Hallé Choir was founded with the orchestra in 1858 by Sir Charles Hallé.[43] The choir gives around ten concerts a year with the Hallé at The Bridgewater Hall and other venues across the UK. The current Hallé Choir Director is Matthew Hamilton.[44]

Hallé Youth Orchestra[edit]

The Hallé Youth Orchestra was founded in 2002, with Edward Gardner as their first conductor. The HYO regularly work with members of the Hallé Orchestra through workshops, and each summer undertake a tour.[45]

Hallé Youth Choir[edit]

The Hallé Youth Choir was founded in 2003 for singers aged 13–19 years.[46]

Hallé Children's Choir[edit]

The Hallé Children's Choir is a choir for singers aged 8–12, intended as an introduction to singing at the highest level.[47]

Principal conductors[edit]


Mark Elder


The Hallé performs about 70 concerts a year in Manchester's Bridgewater Hall, opened in 1996.

Hallé St Peter's is a grade II listed former church in Ancoats which was converted for the orchestra to use for rehearsals, recordings, and small performances, and as a base for the choirs and Youth Orchestra. It was opened in 2013 by Sophie, Countess of Wessex.[49][50] Simon Armitage, the Poet Laureate, wrote a poem "the event horizon" to commemorate the opening of its extension, the Oglesby Centre in 2019, and the poem is included in the building "in the form of a letter-cut steel plate situated in the entrance to the auditorium, the 'event horizon'".[51]

Hallé at St Michael's is another converted church, used as a space for artistic and educational activities and community events.[52]


  1. ^ "ASA Ruling on Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Society - Advertising Standards Authority". Archived from the original on 5 January 2017. Retrieved 14 September 2015. https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-merseyside-17041169
  2. ^ a b Ivan Hewett (7 January 2008). "Manchester's Hallé: Knees-up for our oldest orchestra". Telegraph. Retrieved 12 January 2008.[dead link]
  3. ^ Howard Jacobson (11 January 2008). "How an orchestra changed my life". The Independent. Archived from the original on 11 January 2008. Retrieved 12 January 2008.
  4. ^ Manchester Faces and Places. Manchester: JG Hammond & Co Ltd. February 1895. pp. 76–77.
  5. ^ "Hans Richter". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 4 July 2017.
  6. ^ "Concerts at Belle Vue". Manchesterhistory.net. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  7. ^ "Halle Orchestra (Symphony Orchestra) - Short History".
  8. ^ Clive Smart (27 June 2000). "Martin Milner: Barbirolli's right-hand man who led the Hallé through arduous times". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2007.
  9. ^ John Ezard (25 May 1999). "Nagano passes on Halle baton". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2007.
  10. ^ Richard Morrison (14 January 2004). "A city reborn". The Times. Retrieved 19 May 2007.
  11. ^ "In perfect harmony". The Times. 24 March 2004. Retrieved 19 May 2007.
  12. ^ David Ward (21 June 2001). "Troubled orchestra gets £3.8m fillip". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 May 2007.
  13. ^ Fiachra Gibbons (7 June 1999). "Miracle man to stir Halle giant". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  14. ^ Richard Morrison (1 September 2006). "Orchestras: these are the champions". The Times. Retrieved 19 May 2007.
  15. ^ Hugh Canning (16 October 2005). "Opera: Armed for action". The Times. Retrieved 19 May 2007.
  16. ^ Martin Cullingford, "Elder renews Hallé contract until 2015". Gramophone, 15 May 2009.
  17. ^ "Sir Mark Elder renews his contract as Music Director of the Hallé" (Press release). The Hallé. November 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  18. ^ "Sir Mark Elder renews contract at Hallé until at least 2020". Gramophone. 20 November 2013. Retrieved 28 November 2013.
  19. ^ David Ward (16 May 2003). "Halle keeps penguin suits for new season". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  20. ^ David Ward (20 May 2002). "Hallé opts to record on own label". The Guardian. Retrieved 24 February 2007.
  21. ^ "BENSON TAYLOR on Twitter". Twitter. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  22. ^ "Visa hurdle forces Hallé to cancel US tour". BBC Music Magazine. 5 April 2006. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 19 May 2007.
  23. ^ "Connaught Artists – Homepage". Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  24. ^ "Markus Stenz". Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  25. ^ Stephen Bates (21 February 2008). "People". The Guardian. Retrieved 6 June 2009.
  26. ^ "Jonathon Heyward". Jonathon Heyward. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  27. ^ "2020-21 Season" (Press release). The Hallé Orchestra. 23 June 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2023.
  28. ^ "The Hallé Orchestra announces its new Chief Executive" (Press release). The Hallé Orchestra. 27 February 2020. Retrieved 10 February 2023.
  29. ^ Janne Palkisto (1 February 2023). "Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra concert, 1 February 2023, interval discussion". YLE (Finnish Radio). Retrieved 16 February 2023.
  30. ^ a b "Kahchun Wong announced as new Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor of the Hallé" (Press release). Hallé Concerts Society. 20 June 2023. Retrieved 20 June 2023.
  31. ^ Robert Beale (17 February 2023). "Review of Hallé concert with Ian Bostridge and conducted by Kahchun Wong". Manchester Classical Music (blog). Retrieved 20 June 2023.
  32. ^ "BBC – Radio 3 – Elgar/Symphony No. 1". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  33. ^ "CONSTANT LAMBERT: Rio Grande (complete) – Hamilton Harty, piano / St. Michael's Singers (A. W. Whitehead, contralto soloist) / The Halle Orchestra cond. by Constant Lambert – Pristine Audio – Audiophile Audition". 30 August 2011. Archived from the original on 30 August 2011. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  34. ^ Pauline Fairclough (22 April 2002). "Halle/Fischer (Bridgewater Hall, Manchester)". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 March 2007.
  35. ^ "William Alwyn's First Symphony [JF]: Classical CD Reviews- Dec 2002 MusicWeb(UK)". Musicweb-international.com. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  36. ^ "ALWYN Symphony 2, 5 Lyra Angelica 8.557647 [EM]: Classical CD Reviews- October 2005 MusicWeb-International". Musicweb-international.com. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  37. ^ "Sinfonia Antartica (Symphony No.7) (Vaughan Williams, Ralph) – IMSLP/Petrucci Music Library: Free Public Domain Sheet Music". Imslp.org. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  38. ^ Anne Inglis and Anthea Sharma (5 August 2005). "Obituary: Christopher Bunting". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 March 2007.
  39. ^ William Mival (1 October 2002). "Obituary: Anthony Milner". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 March 2007.
  40. ^ "These Premises Are Alarmed". Fabermusic.com. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  41. ^ "Mahler - Das klagende Lied for soli, mixed choir and orchestra". Vienna: Universal Edition. Archived from the original on 8 March 2024. Retrieved 8 March 2024.
  42. ^ "Pluto, the renewer". Fabermusic.com. Retrieved 14 December 2018.
  43. ^ Kennedy, Michael (1982). The Halle, 1858–1983 (1. publ. ed.). Manchester University Press. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-7190-0921-1.
  44. ^ "Matthew Hamilton – Hallé Orchestra".
  45. ^ About Us”. Halle Orchestra, retrieved 9 May 2012.
  46. ^ "Hallé Youth Choir – Hallé Orchestra".
  47. ^ "Hallé Children's Choir – Hallé Orchestra".
  48. ^ "Conductor Timeline". Hallé Orchestra. Retrieved 23 February 2020.
  49. ^ "Hallé St Peter's". Hallé Concerts Society. Retrieved 13 January 2020.
  50. ^ Historic England. "Former Church of St Peter (1197806)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 5 March 2024.
  51. ^ "the event horizon" (PDF). Simon Armitage. Retrieved 13 January 2020. Includes full text of poem
  52. ^ "Hallé at St Michael's". Hallé Concerts Society. Retrieved 13 January 2020.


External links[edit]