I have known the Usher Hall for more years than I care to count. It all started in my student days with weekly concerts of the then Scottish National Orchestra while sitting in the cheap, hard seats of the back row of "the gods". Great acoustic there but, in those days, necessitating a long climb. Now I am of an age and prefer comfy seats I have my favourite corner of the Grand Circle and the acoustic remains stunning. However, with the major refurbishment of a few years ago I could get to that top deck by lift as access to all areas as well as bar and toilet facilities have been greatly improved.
While I don't really like the appearance of the enormous addition to the side of the building that was constructed as part of the renovations, the other new facilities are a welcome embellishment. However, they are underused especially the ground floor bars and cafe at the box office entrance and which open shortly before performances. Surely, at least during the Festival in August, the cafe could open all day. With the closure of cafes nearby in the Saltyre Centre, I suggest there may be a place for opening the cafe all day.
The Usher Hall manages to attract charming, helpful industrious staff. We rarely need the box office staff but ushers and bar staff are consistently, even in the hectic three weeks of the Edinburgh Festival, wonderfully patient and friendly.
And the concerts of the Festival - stunning. Mahler 2 from the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Mariss Jansons was never better!
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