Classical Music and Other Events at the Southbank Centre in 2019-20

Southbank Centre is proud to announce its 2019/20 season of concerts across its three world renowned venues.

Southbank Centre’s 2019/20 classical music season goes on sale to Southbank Centre Members at 10am on Monday 25 February 2019 and then on sale to the general public at 10am on Wednesday 27 February 2019. 

For more information or to buy tickets please visit the Southbank Centre website CLICK HERE.

Highlights include:

  • Major series in 2020 celebrating 250 years since the birth of Beethoven
  • The return of Steve Reich’s Drumming to the Hayward Gallery, the site of its European premiere in 1972, headlines a season of music inspired by visual art and the Hayward Gallery’s major Bridget Riley retrospective
  • Concerts and exhibition celebrating Ravi Shankar centenary
  • Anoushka Shankar announced as Southbank Centre Associate Artist
  • Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts Varèse’s complete works
  • International Orchestras include: San Francisco Symphony Orchestra double-bill;  Bergen Philharmonic and Choir and an all-star cast in Britten’s Peter Grimes; Mitsuko Uchida and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra
  • Over 30 new commissions and premieres and the launch of the first BBC Radio 3 Unclassified Live as part of a new ‘Contemporary Edit’
  • Southbank Centre to offer a free classical night out with the best in the business to audiences new to classical music. Marin Alsop, Nicola Benedetti, Colin Currie, Stephen Hough, Nico Muhly and Mark-Anthony Turnage amongst leading musicians and composers who will accompany classical music newcomers to concerts as part of innovative new Encounters scheme
  • 50,000 seats available for £15 or under, including many free events

Southbank Centre today announces its 2019/20 Classical Music Season, together with its four Resident Orchestras, the London Philharmonic OrchestraPhilharmonia OrchestraLondon Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and four Associate Orchestras, Aurora Orchestra, BBC Concert Orchestra, Chineke! Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain.

A central commitment to audiences, including those new to classical music, lies at the heart of the season which features 230+ classical concerts and events in the Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room, as well as the Hayward Gallery and open foyers.

ARTISTS: The first month alone sets the tone for a season stamped with ambition, imagination and the highest quality music-making, with audiences able to hear many of classical music’s most electrifying musicians. Artists include Vladimir Jurowski, Esa-Pekka Salonen, Edward Gardner, Elim Chan, Susanna Mӓlkki, Masaaki Suzuki, Nicola Benedetti, Jess Gillam, Jörg Widmann, Vikingur Olafsson, Alice Sara Ott, Pekka Kuusisto, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Barbara Hannigan, Andreas Scholl, Southbank Centre Artist-in-Residence Pierre-Laurent Aimard, Julia Fischer and Sheku Kanneh-Mason, and the outstanding performers keep coming throughout the season: Southbank Centre Associate Artists Marin Alsop and Colin Currie, Thomas Adès, Sarah Connolly, Diana Damrau, Iestyn Davies, James Ehnes, Mark Elder, Edward Gardner, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, Benjamin Grosvenor, Stephen Hough, Alina Ibragimova, Leila Josefowicz, Leonidas Kavakos, Igor Levit, Paul Lewis, Stephen Osborne, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Antonio Pappano, Vasily Petrenko, Maurizio Pollini, Anoushka Shankar, Sean Shibe, Stuart Skelton, Robin Ticciati, Michael Tilson Thomas, Daniil Trifonov, Mitsuko Uchida, Alisa Weilerstein, Jörg Widmann, John Wilson and many, many more. Innovation stands at the heart of the work of Southbank Centre’s Resident and Associate Orchestras, and ensembles that are redefining classical music, on and off the concert platform, including Southbank Centre Associate, Chineke! Orchestra, and the British Paraorchestra.

AUDIENCES: Southbank Centre is committed to nurturing and diversifying its audiences for classical music and, as part of this aim, will be launching Encounters, an innovative new scheme to offer a free classical night out in the company of a leading musician to audiences who have never previously heard a live classical concert. Marin Alsop, Nicola Benedetti, Colin Currie, Stephen Hough, James Gilchrist, Roderick Williams, Sean Shibe, Susan Bickley, Chi-chi Nwanoku and composers Nico Muhly, Mark Simpson and Mark-Anthony Turnage, all of whom feature in Southbank Centre’s 2019/20 classical season, will lead a series of musical ‘encounters’, each sharing musical insights and passion for their art by simply bringing a small group of people new to live classical music to a Southbank Centre concert. In a commitment to making the scheme open to as many as possible, Southbank Centre will also provide hundreds of free tickets to Encounters participants to return for a second taste of classical music during the 2019/20 classical season. They will be invited to bring a concert newcomer with them, who in turn will then be able extend a further invitation to a friend or colleague new to classical music. Southbank Centre will be working with charities and local community groups, including the Irene Taylor Trust, Streetwise Opera and Coin Street Community Builders, as well as local employers, to invite people to participate in Encounters. Priority will be given to those for whom opportunities such as Encounters are especially hard to come by including ex-offenders, young people who are not in education, employment or training, people who have experienced homelessness, isolated older people and community groups, as well as those who may work on or near the South Bank but have yet to experience live classical music.

Pianist Stephen Hough comments: ‘Classical music concerts so often seem like a closed door (or several) to those who have never attended one.  A stuffy private club: elitist, pompous and inaccessible. ‘Encounters’ is a brilliant, simple idea to destroy this perception and to fling those doors open. Classical music – with its passion, its emotion, its stimulation, its rich fascination – belongs to all of us and I’m delighted to be a part of this exciting new way of introducing people for the first time to its allure.’

Conductor Marin Alsop says: ’This is a great idea. I always enjoy going to concerts and as a musician, I’m very interested to hear what those new to classical concert going make of the experience; it’s easy to make assumptions on both sides and I think a few myths might get debunked along the way. Let’s hope so.’

Encounters underlines Southbank Centre’s mission to widen access to classical music and to creating a classical concert experience fit for 21st century audiences of all ages and people of all backgrounds. With 50,000 seats available for £15 or under, including many free events, the 2019/20 season provides many different ways to experience live classical music. From international mass participation events (Marin Alsop leads a cast of 400 in a performance of Beethoven’s Symphony No.9), to invigorating and illuminating short concerts (BBC Radio 3’s Unclassified Live, part of Contemporary Edit, a new way to navigate Southbank Centre’s numerous new music events), and changes to concert format, timing and etiquette, such as Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment’s ‘drinks-in’ policy and Aurora’s ‘Orchestral Theatre’ concerts. A comprehensive programme of family concerts, hands-on workshops for all ages (even babies), free foyer concerts and regular onstage introductions to music by conductors, musicians and composers also add to the mix. Southbank Centre’s commitment to growing audiences is reflected across all of these distinctive initiatives.

SUPPORTING CREATIVITY: Leading the field in addressing important issues facing music today, Southbank Centre is spearheading debate about opportunity and music: influential Women in Music Breakfasts seek to effect change, welcoming international guest speakers to share their experiences within the music industry. Southbank Centre also provides crucial opportunities for the development of young musicians, providing a home to resident community groups such as award-winning jazz development organisation Tomorrow’s Warriors, Kinetica Bloco and Streetwise Opera. Its ongoing Composers’ Collective series brings emerging composing talent face-to-face with some of the world’s most distinguished composers at free events.

With the very finest music making at its heart, in some of the world’s most celebrated concert halls, Southbank Centre’s 2019/20 classical season highlights include:

Beethoven 250

A year-long celebration of the 250th Anniversary of Beethoven’s birth throughout 2020. January – June highlights include:

  • Marin Alsop leads Southbank Centre Associate the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and 400 performers in Beyond Beethoven Nine as part of a major international mass participation exploration of Beethoven’s Symphony No.9
  • Southbank Centre Artist-in-Residence Pierre-Laurent Aimard curates Beethoven and the Avant-Garde, a series about Beethoven and his influence on composers featuring recitals and appearances from Southbank Centre Associate Aurora Orchestra and Cologne’s Gürzenich Orchestra in a programme which mixes Beethoven with works by 20th and 21st century composers
  • London Philharmonic Orchestra’s year-long 2020 Vision series casts fresh light on the music of Beethoven and the composers who came exactly 100 and 200 years after him including a complete cycle of Beethoven Symphonies with conductors including Vladimir Jurowski, Edward Gardner and Vasily Petrenko that will be completed across the calendar year
  • Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen, reconstructs Beethoven’s famous marathon 1808 benefit concert at the Theater an der Wein, which saw the first performances of Beethoven’s 5th and 6th Symphonies
  • Two takes on Beethoven’s ‘Eroica’ Symphony: Nicholas Collon conducts Aurora Orchestra in a performance from memory; Sir Roger Norrington conducts period instrument ensemble Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in Beethoven’s 3rd and 4th Symphonies
  • International soloists and chamber musicians including Anne-Sophie Mutter, Vilde Frang and Lawrence Power pay tribute to Beethoven

Hayward x Music: Bridget Riley
Musicians respond to a major Bridget Riley retrospective at Hayward Gallery

  • Steve Reich’s Drumming returns to the scene of its 1972 European premiere in a Hayward Gallery performance by the Colin Currie Group
  • Award-winning young guitarist Sean Shibe spans 400 years of music, from lute to electric guitar in a Hayward Gallery concert performing amongst the exhibition
  • London Sinfonietta gives the world premiere of a new Bridget Riley-inspired work by Georg Friedrich Haas
  • Deep∞Minimalism 2.0 – Cellist Oliver Coates programmes a two-day exploration of deep listening featuring minimalist experimental acoustic and electronic music including works by Eliane Radigue
  • London Contemporary Orchestra performs Michael Gordon’s Rushes for seven bassoons

Ravi Shankar centenary
2020 season celebrating the seminal musician’s music and legacy:

  • Sitarist and composer Anoushka Shankar, Ravi Shankar’s daughter, announced as a Southbank Centre Associate Artist
  • London Philharmonic Orchestra performs Ravi Shankar’s final work, the opera Sukanya, as part of an opening weekend of concerts and participatory music making in January 2020 as well as a performance of Shankar’s Symphony later in the year
  • Royal Festival Hall exhibition to feature previously unseen material from the Shankar family’s personal collection
  • Plus more programming to be announced, including a concert with friends and family on centenary of Ravi Shankar’s birth

Hyperfutures – the complete Varèse

  • Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group in the complete works of visionary 20th century composer Edgard Varèse, performed over one weekend

International Orchestras

  • Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra double-bill celebrates Tilson Thomas’ 75th birthday and his 25th and final season as the orchestra’s Music Director
  • Edward Gardner conducts the Bergen Philharmonic and Choir and an all-star cast in Britten’s Peter Grimes with Stuart Skelton in the title role
  • Mitsuko Uchida and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra continue their acclaimed Southbank Centre series exploring Mozart piano concertos
  • Further highlights include: NHK Symphony Orchestra Tokyo, conducted by Paavo Jӓrvi and making its Southbank Centre debut, Cologne’s Gürzenich Orchestra conducted by François-Xavier Roth

Contemporary Edit
New for 2019/20, Contemporary Edit offers a curated journey through new music at Southbank Centre, making surprising connections and offering new ways of exploring the wealth of new music on offer. With more than 30 commissions and premieres across the season, further new music highlights include:

  • Music Theatre Wales and London Sinfonietta in the world premiere of Philip VenablesDenis & Katya, a new music theatre work written and directed by Ted Huffman, based on the true story of two 15-year-old Russian runaways who, whilst besieged by police, live streamed their final hours (13 & 14 Mar 2020)
  • Elizabeth Alker presents and André de Ridder conducts BBC Radio 3’s Unclassified Live, a new series of QEH concerts to be broadcast as part of BBC Radio 3’s eclectic late night, new music programme which explores a new generation of classical composers who take influence from across the musical spectrum. (Southbank Centre in partnership with BBC Radio 3, BBC Concert Orchestra and Southbank Sinfonia). The series opens with Southbank Sinfonia performing music by Anna Meredith and a world premiere by Nicole Lizée (29 Sep 2019)
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts the world premiere of a horn concerto by Mark-Anthony Turnage, commissioned by Philharmonia Orchestra to mark the start of its 75th anniversary year (16 Jan 2020); George Benjamin conducts the orchestra in a concert celebrating his 60th birthday (5 Mar 2020)
  • Philharmonia Orchestra’s Music of Today series showcases new work by Gėrard Pesson, Aribert Reimann, Augusta Read Thomas and shines a spotlight on percussionist Colin Currie
  • London Philharmonic Orchestra gives the European premiere of a new organ concerto by Nico Muhly, commissioned by Southbank Centre (29 Apr 2020) and the UK premiere of a new piano concerto by Thomas Adès (23 Oct 2019)
  • Michael Tilson Thomas conducts the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra in the European premiere of a new orchestral work by John Adams (21 Mar 2020)
  • London Sinfonietta presents new commissions from Georg Friedrich Haas (5 Dec 2019) Edward Nesbit (15 Oct 2019), Marius Neset (21 Nov 2019, as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival) Trish Clowes, Hannah Kendal and Bushra El-Turk
  • Southbank Centre Associate BBC Concert Orchestra focuses on new music, from Bang on a Can All-Stars’ performance of Julia Wolfe’s Flower Power (28 Feb 2020) to the European premiere of Guy Barker and Kurt-Elling’s noir-inspired, jazz audio drama The Big Blind (31 Jan 2020), as well as an innovative concert featuring video game music
  • The season also includes premieres from Sally Beamish, Luke Bedford, Roxanna Panufnik and Jörg Widmann

Further Resident Orchestra highlights

  • Philharmonia Orchestra celebrates its 75th anniversary; Esa-Pekka Salonen continues major series, Weimar Berlin: Bittersweet MetropolisThey will also focus on Mahler, including three song cycles: Humoresken (songs from Des Knaben Wunderhorn), Das Lied von der Erde and Das klagende Lied
  • London Philharmonic Orchestra explores some seminal works of the first two decades of our century in 2020 Vision and continues its celebration of landmark works inspired by the British Isles, Isle of Noises series; Vladimir Jurowski continues two cycles with Wagner’s Siegfried and Mahler symphonies
  • London Sinfonietta’s Sound Across a Century, running in parallel to LPO’s 2020 Vision, explores the influence of the 20th century’s fast-changing culture on 21st century composition, from late romanticism to spectralism
  • Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment explores Faustian pacts and German Romantic music, puts the spotlight on the lesser-known Michael Haydn and journeys through three hundred years of English music

Further highlights

  • Associate Orchestra Chineke! performs three concerts focused on the music of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor
  • Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in RFH concerts conducted by Thierry Fischer, Robert Trevino, Mark Wigglesworth, Sir Andrew Davis and Music Director designate Vasily Petrenko
  • City of London Sinfonia reflecting on 1920s Paris and minimalist music
  • Southbank Sinfonia in family and contemporary concerts
  • British Paraorchestra, the world’s only large-scale ensemble for professional disabled musicians, exploring minimalism in collaboration with its two partner ensembles,The Army of Generals and Charles Hazlewood’s All Star Collective including Will Gregory (Goldfrapp) and Adrian Utley (Portishead) (28 Sep 2019)

Gillian Moore CBE, Director of Music at Southbank Centre comments:
‘At Southbank Centre we’re passionately committed to creating the most exciting possible encounters between great music and people. From our Resident and Associate Orchestras who are innovators and global ambassadors for music in London to a fabulous array of international artists and over 30 premieres, audiences can expect magnificent music in Southbank Centre’s three world class concert halls throughout the 2019/20 season. The season sees a welcome return to concerts in the Hayward Gallery, and is marked by fresh approaches to concert giving and going, including our new Encounters project, which offer audiences and artists alike exceptional artistic experiences.

Beethoven, Varèse and Ravi Shankar, all celebrated in Southbank Centre series, thought unimagined thoughts about music and its place in the world. In celebrating their legacy, in supporting artists, creating new music today and in creating a welcome for everybody from passionate connoisseurs to absolute newcomers, we hope to ensure that we can all experience the sense of connection to ideas, to the world and to each other that music offers us.’

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