Date of birth: September 1996.

(Very) brief history: built to replace the Free Trade Hall as Manchester's main concert hall, the pounds 42m state-of-the-art venue was named after the Bridgewater canal, recalling the city's industrial heyday.

The building: strikingly modern. Designed by architects Renton Howard Wood Levin, a huge suspended glass prow towers over the main entrance, crowned with a curved stainless steel roof. But it's not just a pretty facade; precise acoustic specifications were followed to create the best environment for symphonic music. It has a 2,400-seat auditorium and pounds 1.2m pipe-organ, the largest of its kind to be installed in Britain this century.

Uses: home of the Halle Orchestra, which was founded in 1858 when the first of Sir Charles Halle's Grand Orchestral Concerts took place. They're still running here, and a traditional classical programme is complemented by comedy, jazz, exhibitions and workshops.

Strange but true: the music's not the only thing that's uplifting: the whole structure is built on giant springs to muffle noise and vibrations from the nearby train stations.

Current events: Manchester is hosting New Music '98, and the hall's programme includes the BBC Philharmonic, conducted by Peter Maxwell Davies, on Fri, and the Grand Finale on 25 Apr, when Oliver Knussen conducts the BBC SO. Tickets pounds 5-20. Call: 0161 907 9000. See also Concerts, right.

Where to meet and eat: the Charles Halle Restaurant for pre- and post- concert dinners. The Stalls Cafe Bar has live jazz from 6-7.45pm on Fridays.

Cost of a glass of wine: pounds 2.25.

How to get there: by rail to Deansgate or Oxford Rd. Annabelle Auerbach