Inside the $125 million renovation of Copley Symphony Hall

The restored, 94-year-old venue will reopen Nov. 4, 2023. 🎻

SD Copley Symphony Hall

A rendering of the renovated Copley Symphony Hall.

Courtesy of HGA and San Diego Symphony

It’s been one year since the San Diego Symphony announced its $125 million project to restore and renovate its historic indoor home — Copley Symphony Hall at Jacobs Music Center — in downtown San Diego.

Its reopening is set for Saturday, Nov. 4, and we got to peek inside the construction and hear all about what’s planned for the 94-year-old venue. Raise the curtain, it’s showtime. 🎼

SD Symphony renovated Copley Hall

A look inside the construction site at Jacobs Music Center as of Monday, Feb. 6.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

“It is a real moment to have this new indoor home for the symphony,” said Martha A. Gilmer, CEO of the San Diego Symphony, at a press conference this week. “We believe in this city, being stewards of this city, and being part of its fabric.”

“It’s going to be phenomenal,” added San Diego Symphony Music Director Rafael Payare, grinning from ear-to-ear.

The hall’s dramatic revitalization includes:

  • A reconfigured stage and reshaped main seating level with 1,700 seats
  • 85 seats in a new area called the “choral terrace” — behind the orchestra
  • Improved acoustics, with state-of-the art digital sound, video, and lighting equipment
  • 15,000-sqft of new backstage space, enhancing the environment for performers
  • A custom-designed permanent orchestral enclosure
  • Restored architectural details
  • Heating and cooling upgrades to make the hall feel more comfortable

HGA principal architect John Frane — the project’s developer — said the space will feel “familiar, but also fresh.” He said the project’s priority is to respect the building’s bones and history, while upgrading the venue for future generations of San Diegans.

With construction on track, Frane said the orchestra should be able to begin practicing in the hall by October. Gilmer said musicians will use the month before their 2023-2024 season to get accustomed to their new space, adding, “It’s like they have a new instrument.”

SD Symphony Copley Hall Construction

Seating will be installed soon at the site.

Photo via Monica Garske + SDtoday

The symphony announced its 2023-2024 inaugural season at the renovated Jacobs Music Center this week, too. Shows include the symphony’s Masterworks Series, jazz tributes, kid-friendly family concerts, and “Currents” — a new, interdisciplinary chamber music series that explores identity.

The grand opening night concert on Saturday, Nov. 4, will feature Payare leading the orchestra’s return to the hall, and the season’s first family concert, “Because: A Symphony of Serendipity,” will be performed on Sunday, Nov. 5. Season subscriptions are available now.

In the spring and summer, the symphony will perform at their outdoor venue, The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park. The full 2023 concert schedule for The Shell will be announced next monthand we’ve got eyes on that.

Keep up with all things San Diego Symphony via its website and Instagram.

More from SDtoday