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
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.