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Media Releases - Building Program

Issued Friday, 5 March 2004


When complete in mid-2004, the rejuvenated Reception Hall will be a superb and versatile venue.

It will also be the only authentic Utzon interior within Sydney Opera House. Unlike other spaces which were structurally altered after Jørn Utzon left the project in 1966, the Reception Hall had only superficial modifications.

The plywood panelling is being removed to reveal the folded concrete ceiling beams which are being methodically cleaned and polished. The beams will be further highlighted by a glaze finish and concealed lighting.

Light natural materials are integral to the new-look Reception Hall: for example a parquetry floor of Australian Blue Gum will be installed in a pattern reflecting the overhead folded beams.

The Premier of NSW, Bob Carr, said during Sydney Opera House’s 30th birthday celebrations: Mr Utzon had always intended that this beautiful space with its harbour setting be used for intimate musical performances. I am delighted that his dream is finally being fulfilled.

Jørn Utzon is designing every detail of the room, from the light fittings, to the furniture, the 14m tapestry lining the western wall and even the type of finish for the new blue gum parquetry flooring.

The centrepiece will be a gloriously colourful tapestry, Homage to Carl Philip Emmanuel Bach, inspired by Bach’s Hamburg Symphonies. This will be Utzon’s first decorative art work. This floor-to-ceiling tapestry will also act as an acoustic aid.

The tapestry is an attempt to express the function of the edifice as a building for the world of music by translating a piece of music into a visual experience.

I have chosen Bach’s Hamburg Symphonies, which move me and delight my spirit, and by which I therefore feel inspired to this translation of music into painting – from the realm of the ear to the realm of the eye. - Jørn Utzon

The tapestry is a stunning display of colour and movement. Each colour is significant with the gold representing an explosion of violins, the black vertical shapes relating to the rhythm of the music, and the colour patches indicating the individual instruments.

The Victorian Tapestry Workshop, internationally known for its traditional Gobelin style, has been chosen by Utzon to weave the tapestry. The tapestry will be created by three skilled artist-weavers over eight months.

Utzon’s daughter Lin, a talented artist who has designed several large-scale tapestries, is oversee-ing the project on behalf of her father.



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