Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall
9 - 11 Empress Place (subway Raffles Place Station)
Working hours: from 10.00 to 21.00
The Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall is considered to be one of the most prominent examples of Singaporean colonial architecture. It consists of two separate constructions, which were built in Victorian style over a period of 40 years and are connected with each other by the clock tower. In 1992, the buildings formerly known as the Town Hall and the Memorial Hall were granted the prestigious status of national monuments.
The Town Hall was first constructed in 1862, on the site where the dilapidated Assembly Rooms Building, in which performances and operas were held, once stood. The Town Hall served two separate functions at the same time: a theater was located on the ground floor, while state offices and conference rooms were placed on the first level. However, as population grew and the need for a Singaporean administrative body increased with it, the premises of the Town Hall were no longer big enough to fulfil their purpose and by 1893, the institutions located on the first floor had to relocate.
In 1901, the colonial authorities decided to build a Memorial Hall in order to commemorate the Empire's legendary figurehead Queen Victoria, who had recently passed away. In order to keep costs to a minimum, the Town Hall was also included in this project. Within a short period of time, the magnificent Palladian building of the Victoria Memorial Hall was built nearby, and with the money saved from this project, the reconstruction of the Town Hall was funded too. This would be renamed as the Victoria Theater, while in order to unify the two buildings, a 54-meter-high clock tower was erected in 1906.
In 1919, on the hundredth anniversary of Singapore’s foundation, a bronze monument to Sir Stamford Raffles was installed in front of the Memorial Hall. This was brought here from the quay in the Padang Quarter, where the founder of Singapore had disembarked onto the island for the first time. Nowadays, only a copy of this monument stands there.
During the Second World War, the Memorial Hall building served as a hospital for the victims of Japanese bombing raids, while the trials of Japanese war criminals were held here following the end of the conflict.
In the second half of the 20th century, both buildings underwent major repairs: interiors were returned to their original look, with air-conditioning and soundproofing systems installed. The Victoria Memorial Hall underwent another large-scale reconstruction in 1979, resulting in the acquisition of a seated gallery, which increased the venue's total capacity to 937 and saw it renamed as the Victoria Concert Hall. Since that time it has hosted the Singaporean symphonic orchestra.
Nowadays, the Theatre and the Concert Hall regularly host classical music concerts, as well as dramatic and dancing performances. The famous Spanish tenor Jose Carreras performed at the Concert Hall on theater’s centenary.
In the year 2010, both buildings – the Theatre and the Concert Hall – were closed for major repairs. A re-opening has been planned for 2013.