• BBC Symphony Orchestra celebrates its 90th birthday with concert led by Principal Guest Conductor Dalia Stasevska
  • Professor Brian Cox joins the BBC SO at the Barbican exploring music and the cosmos
  • Innovative new BBC Philharmonic and BBC Research & Development project to give classical music fans the feeling of sitting within an orchestra
  • BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Principal Conductor Ryan Bancroft present a special programme of work to mark Black History Month
  • BBC Concert Orchestra return to the Royal Festival Hall under new Principal Guest Conductor Anna-Maria Helsing and in November a concert with South African cellist Abel Selaocoe and his trio Chesaba
  • BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra presents a series of eight live concerts broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and four livestreams, the first led by newly appointed Principal Guest Conductor, Alpesh Chauhan
  • Alan Bennett [pictured] narrates George Fenton’s ‘Hymn’ with the BBC Singers who also collaborate with East London Dance

The BBC Orchestras and Choirs are delighted to present highlights from their autumn season. From performances at the Royal Festival Hall and Glasgow City Halls, to anniversary celebrations on BBC Radio 3, we are thrilled to present a wealth of content for broadcast, online and live audiences, with further concerts to be announced over the coming weeks.

BBC Symphony Orchestra

·         Concerts at the Barbican, London

This autumn the BBC Symphony Orchestra returns to London’s Barbican for two live concerts, beginning with a world premiere of the chamber orchestra version of Magnus Lindberg’s Accused (6 November). Soprano Anu Komsi will sing Lindberg’s powerful statement in support of human rights and democracy, conducted by Principal Conductor, Sakari Oramo. The concert will also feature Anna Clyne’s Within Her Arms composed in 2008 in memory of her late mother, and Haydn’s Symphony No. 49.

One of the world’s pre-eminent physicists, Professor Brian Cox, will join the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Principal Guest Conductor Dalia Stasevska to explore the questions of life, death and the very meaning of our existence raised by music and the cosmos (13 December). Following a critically-acclaimed performance with the BBC SO of Holst’s The Planets in 2018, Cox returns to the Barbican for a mind-bending musical voyage through space and time, set to a soundtrack inspired by the great unknowns of the Universe. Both concerts will have a small live audience.

·         Recording for BBC Radio 3

BBC Radio 3’s Afternoon Concert will celebrate the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s 90th Birthday with a concert led by Principal Guest Conductor Dalia Stasevska (22 October).

The BBC SO will also perform live from the orchestra’s studio in Maida Vale with conductors including Ryan WigglesworthMartyn Brabbins, Ryan Bancroft and Nicholas Collon. These concerts will be broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

BBC Concert Orchestra

·         Concerts at London’s Southbank

The BBC Concert Orchestra performs two concerts at the Royal Festival Hall as part of the Southbank’s Inside Out Festival.

In her first concert as Principal Guest Conductor, Anna-Maria Helsing conducts a French-Finnish programme (30 October) featuring soprano Anu Komsi. The programme includes Poulenc’s Sinfonietta and Sebastian Fagerlund’s Partita. The concert is broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, marking the end of its twelve day Culture in Quarantine Southbank residency.

Genre-busting young South African cellist Abel Selaocoe and his trio, Chesaba, will join forces with the BBC Concert Orchestra in a programme including  Barak Schmool’s ‘20th Meridian’ – an 8 movement cello concerto that has resonances from the African subcontinent (17 November, 20 November BBC Radio 3) A small invited audience will be welcomed to the Hall. 

BBC National Orchestra of Wales

·         New Autumn Season projects

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Principal Conductor Ryan Bancroft have curated a special programme of work to mark Black History Month, for a pre-recorded concert from Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff. The programme will include Four Novelletten by Samuel Colridge-Taylor and The Green Fuse by James B Wilson.

The orchestra will also continue their fortnightly ‘From Home to Homes’ live concerts via Zoom into care homes for individuals who are shielding in Wales.

·         Recording for BBC Radio 3 and online

The BBC National Orchestra of Wales will record regular performances at Hoddinott Hall to be later shared across the BBC NOW’s website and social media channels. The orchestra are currently working on programmes featuring repertoire from Anna Clyne to Zemlinksy. BBC NOW will be working with artists including: Principal Conductor Ryan Bancroft, conductors Marzena Diakun, Jonathan Bloxham, Martyn Brabbins, Thomas Kemp and Jaime Martin, saxophonist Jess Gillam, tenor James Gilchrist and mezzo sopranos Kathryn Rudge and Dame Sarah Connolly. 

BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra

·         New concerts announced at Glasgow’s City Hall for broadcast and online

Following his recent BBC Prom from City Halls, newly appointed BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra Associate Conductor Alpesh Chauhan will conduct the first of eight Thursday concerts with the orchestra at Glasgow’s City Halls from 24 September. The concerts will be broadcast live on BBC Radio 3, with four also live streamed online.

More broadcasts and studio recordings will take place with conductors including Martyn Brabbins, Teresa Riveiro Böhm, Joanna Carniero, Chloe van Soeterstede and Richard Farnes, with a live performance with Mark Wigglesworth broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s Afternoon Concert on 1 October. The orchestra will also record for BBC Bitesize and BBC Scotland TV in the coming weeks.

BBC Philharmonic Orchestra

·         New projects in store

A new interactive experience from BBC Research & Development and the BBC Philharmonic will give classical music fans the taste of what it might be like to conduct an orchestra. From today, people can ‘Pick a Part’ on BBC Taster, letting them connect devices like laptops, phones, and tablets together to create a homemade synchronised surround sound. They can then listen to pieces performed by the BBC Philharmonic, and choose to isolate instruments or sections to listen to on each device – or of course play them all together and sit back to get the feeling of what it would be like to sit right in the middle of the BBC Philharmonic itself. This experience is the latest in a series of trial productions using this technology, which most recently included a reimagined episode of 1927’s Decameron Nights.

·         Recording for radio and online

Rising Sea Symphony, a new commission by composer Kieran Brunt, will be performed by the BBC Philharmonic on BBC Radio 3. Recorded using the remote techniques developed during lockdown, Rising Sea Symphony will explore issues around climate change and the environment. 

A complete Schubert Symphony cycle for Radio 3, conducted by Chief Conductor Omer Meir Wellber over three visits in October, November and December starting with a live broadcast on 9 October from the BBC Philharmonic studio in Salford.

Following the success of the nine episode series of The Music Room: Reflecting Beethoven, further episodes of the online conversations with Omer Meir Wellber, orchestral musicians and special guests will be published via the BBC Philharmonic website and on social media.

The orchestra are also now recording a wide range of orchestral and ensemble music for future broadcast on BBC Radio 3 – including works by Tom Coult, Anna Clyne, George Benjamin, Per Norgards, Judith Weir, Kalevi Aho, Takemitsu, Bartók, Beethoven, Sibelius and more in the coming weeks. The BBC Philharmonic will also be celebrating Radio Lincolnshire’s 40th birthday with an orchestral version of Home by Scouting for Girls.

BBC Singers

·         Concert with East London Dance

The BBC Singers are joined by one of London’s most vibrant, cutting-edge dance companies, East London Dance, for an exciting new collaboration conducted by Chief Conductor Sofi Jeannin at Milton Court, London (23 October). The programme will include Tormis’s Curse Upon Iron and Amy Bryce’s From First Breath, and will be filmed for audiences to access online. 

·         Recording for BBC Radio 3

In five studio concerts recorded for broadcast on BBC Radio 3 from Maida Vale, the BBC Singers perform the UK premiere of Betsy Jolas’s Concerto-Fantaisie conducted by Sofi Jeannin (2 October), a concert in memory of former Chief Conductor Sir Stephen Cleobury (16 October), and a performance of George Fenton’s ‘Hymn’, narrated by Alan Bennett, for Christmas 2020 (6 November). The BBC Singers will also take part in recordings for Radio 3’s disability season (9 October) and BBC Music Day (25 September).