From the streets to the hall: Kate Wickett

From the streets to the hall: Kate Wickett
Image: Beth Orton and Lauren Jean at City Recital Hall, May 2. Credit: Jess Gleeson & Billy Zammit/Facebook

It may seem a long way from helming Sydney WorldPride to programming Sydney’s most esteemed orchestras but Kate Wickett says it all makes sense as she prepares to take over as CEO of the City Recital Hall.

“It’s a beautiful and impressive venue and has a great team working here and there is an opportunity to elevate the hall to become one of Sydney’s most sort after venues,” Kate Wickett, CEO, City Recital Hall said.

“I would like to see the City Recital Hall become a beacon of cultural diversity in the heart of the city.”

Situated in Angel Place in Sydney’s heart between George and Pitt streets, the City Recital Hall stages over 200 events a year from a diverse program ranging from Sydney’s premium orchestras to electronic dance music.

Kate Wickett. Image: supplied

The 1200 seat venue was initiated by the City of Sydney and purpose built to exacting acoustic details in 1999 and features sloping stalls and two galleries wrapping around both sides of the auditorium.

It is renowned and loved by musicians across the spectrum and appreciated by audiences for its purity of sound and comfort.

Like many professional recording studios the auditorium floats on rubber bearings to avoid vibration and street noise leaking into the building and all other fittings, including the air conditioning have been specially designed to mitigate noise.

Martha Marlow, City Recital Hall, 14 Jan, 2022. Credit: Jess Gleeson
Bower, City Recital Hall, 10 Nov, 2022. Credit: Jess Gleeson


“The room itself is world class, as are the acoustics, and we are really conscious that we want to make the audience experience world class as well,”Wickett said.

“We want to elevate the hall to become the cornerstone of cultural and artistic excellence.”

For many years the City Recital Hall has been synonymous with performances from the classical music spectrum, being the home to the Australian Brandenburg Orchestra, Musica Viva Australia and Pinchgut Opera, among others, and that will continue under Wickett’s leadership.

“We want to grow our classical components and introduce new audiences to our classical program. Also we want to bring other artists who may not be familiar to the hall, and introduce them not only to classical music but also other music events that are held here,” Wickett said.

Patti LuPone. Image:
Bryan Brown and Sam Neill. Image:

“We have a great diversity of programming that also includes people like Martha Wainwright and Beth Orton.”

A look at the current program includes artists as diverse as American alt legends Blonde Redhead, Broadway and West End singing sensation Patti LuPone and Brian Brown and Sam Neill in dialogue for the Sydney Writers Festival.

Many of the touring artists are booked directly by the City Recital Hall, or requests are made for the hall on a commercial arrangement, and it is these that Wickett sees as a valuable and growing addition to the hall’s stakeholders.

“We have the five main orchestras but the City Recital Hall also has its own programming called City Recital Hall Presents, so we seek and engage artists in our own right and we have people who approach us as well,” Wickett said.

“To diversify the programming is crucial.”

Ground floor foyer. Image:
Auditorium. Image:

Wickett is taking over at a time of physical renewal for much of the hall, now in its first major renovation since last year’s changes to the seating which saw the front area changed to accommodate the extension of an orchestra or a mosh pit.

“We are replacing all of our bars along with new furniture and carpeting and the back of house is being upgraded so that the performers and artists will have a much better experience as well,” Wickett said.

Wickett also sees the hall’s positioning in the centre of the city as an opportunity for it to activate a precinct in the area that is well serviced with restaurants of all price ranges that will enhance the experience of attending a show.

“People can come after work and have dinner before a show or go to the show and then have dinner,” Wickett said.

Wickett will certainly be looking to put the City Recital Hall in your inbox as a go to place for premium entertainment in Sydney, but in the meantime surprise yourself with a look at their current program.

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