St David's Hall (Welsh: Neuadd Dewi Sant) is a performing arts and conference venue in the heart of Cardiff city centre, the capital of Wales. St David's Hall is the National Concert Hall and Conference Centre of Wales, and hosts the annual Welsh Proms, the Orchestral Series attracting renowned conductors and performers and the world famous biennial Cardiff Singer of the World competition. As well as classical music it also plays host to jazz, soul, pop, rock, dance, children's, r&b, musicals and other forms of world music, as well as light entertainment artists like Joan Collins. The foyers in the centre are open and have regular free performances from often local groups, and the many foyers, balconies and bar areas are also used to host art exhibitions. It also has its own Celebrity Restaurant, on top of the numerous bars.
Built in 1982 the Hall proved to be a tricky and remarkable building. Architects Seymour Harris Partnership had the task of fitting a major 2000 seat, acoustically perfect auditorium, with surrounding dressing rooms, bars, foyers, a restaurant, offices and spacious concourse into a cramped city centre space. The space available was so cramped that they had to fit the complex into an already planned and partly built shopping mall. As a result they has to use every inch of space available and the building has a bit of an odd shape. It worked though, as since it opened on 30 August 1982 (on that first day 21,000 people flooded through the doors) the Hall has attracted high profile world famous performers from all over the globe and itself has established a reputation as one of the premier concert and conference venues in Europe and the world. It was officially opened over 6 months after the first concert in February 1983 by the Queen Mother. BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales (the BBC NOW) is the orchestra-in-residence at St David's Hall, holding regular concerts with reasonably priced tickets to try to attract families who perhaps would not normally consider going to a classical concert. The Hall's acoustics are highly rated for orchestral music and a new sound system in 2005 has solved previous problems with amplified sound.
There were fears that St David's Hall would be hit by the opening of the grander, and undoubtedly more spectacular Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff Bay; these fears have been partly realised. The Wales Millennium Centre has made Saint David's hall look its age. The angular grey concrete that makes up nearly the whole visible exterior and some interior foyers looks unmistakably 70s/80s modernist new build. Audiences have remained constant at the Hall but political favour and the Wales Millennium Centre's national subsidy has made it a challenge for the Hall to compete.
St David's Hall is owned managed and funded by Cardiff Council and has a thriving education and community department called Arts active which mounts various schools and arts outreach projects.