In the late 1970s, the local conditions for concerts and events in Bamberg were extremely problematic. Although Bamberg had some places for smaller events with the Harmoniesälen, the Zentralsaal at the Promenade and the halls of the Neue Residenz, these were rather temporary solutions from the point of view of capacity, acoustics and rising renovation costs.
From 1950 until the opening in 1993, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra used the old Dominican Church in the Sand area, with its 1000 seats, for concerts and rehearsals – an almost unthinkable scenario for world-class orchestra today. This is also proved by the fact that during recording activities for radio and television the entire traffic on Sandstraße had to be blocked for hours.
In 1980, the city of Bamberg began planning and tendering. The contract was finally awarded to the Munich architectural association “Rollenhagen und Großmann”, according to whose plans construction began in 1989.
Located on the eastern bank of the Regnitz, in the immediate vicinity of the old town of Bamberg with a view of the historic buildings Cathedral, St. Michael Monastery and New Residence, the building was to blend harmoniously into the overall architectural appearance of the city. In September 1993 the “Sinfonie an der Regnitz”, as the concert hall is also called, was inaugurated.
The increasing number of tourists in Bamberg, associated with its appointment as a World Heritage site, confirmed the construction of a new concert and event hall. In the following years, a multicolored program with numerous renowned artists of various genres was placed side by side to the concert program of the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra, so that a cultural center of Bamberg developed on the banks of the Regnitz.
The opening of the new concert hall also heralded a unique upswing for the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra. Thanks to optimal rehearsal and working conditions with two concert rooms and numerous rehearsal rooms, the orchestra grew into an ensemble in great demand worldwide, which was awarded the rank of State Orchestra by the Bavarian State Government in 2003. Since then, the Bamberg Symphony Orchestra has carried the title “Bayerische Staatsphilharmonie” (Bavarian State Philharmonic Orchestra) and appears as Bavaria’s cultural representative on the world’s major stages.
Fifteen years after opening, the first section of the Concert Hall’s extensive modernization program began in 2008. The focus initially was on the sound optimization of the Joseph Keilberth Hall. The project was commissioned to the Japanese acoustic designer Yasuhisa Toyota, who was also responsible for the sound of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, the Suntory Hall in Tokyo and the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg.
In 2009, the structural extensions and the renovation of the Concert and Congress Hall began. In the course of this, the foyer was expanded by two extensions of a glass front, an interior color concept designed by the well-known Hamburg designer Peter Schmidt was added and the outdoor facility was redesigned.
On September 25, 2009, the Joseph Keilberth Hall was ceremoniously reopened with the performance of the 3rd Mahler Symphony.