Guildhall School of Music & Drama announces its autumn season 2023

This autumn, Guildhall School of Music & Drama presents a varied programme of events for the public to enjoy, including concerts, drama productions, opera and jazz.

Highlights include:

  • Special events to mark Milton Court’s 10th Anniversary, including a world premiere by Hollie Harding; an exploration of Rachmaninov’s piano works with alumni Lucy Parham and Sir Simon Russell Beale, and Guildhall Jazz Festival in association with EFG London Jazz Festival.
  • Guildhall Drama productions of Roy Williams’ Days of Significance directed by Monique Touko, and Ursula Rani Sarma’s adaption of Lorca’s Yerma directed by Sophie Dillon Moniram.
  • A double bill of operas by RespighiMaria egiziaca and La bella dormente nel bosco, conducted by Dominic Wheeler and directed by Victoria Newlyn.
  • Orchestral concerts in Barbican Hall including Walton’sBelshazzar’s Feast conducted by Dominic Wheeler, and works by Unsuk Chin, Bartók and Zemlinsky under the baton of Antony Hermus.
  • The UK premiere of George Russell’s New York, N.Y. suite by Guildhall Jazz Orchestra and Jazz Choir with special guest Tommy Blaize.
  • Guildhall School production artists lighting up Blackpool as part of the city’s Lightpool Festival.
  • London Schools Symphony Orchestra concert of music inspired by scenes and poems featuring works by Lili Boulanger, Dvořák, Mussorgsky and Eric Whitacre.
  • A wealth of concerts, recitals, masterclasses, competitions and seminars as part of Guildhall School’s free event offering.

Details of the autumn season’s events can be found below.


Days of Significance by Roy Williams

Monday 23 – Saturday 28 October, Milton Court Studio Theatre

Set five years after the invasion of Iraq, Days of Significance follows the complex love lives and mortal fears of young soldiers departing their English market-towns for the deserts of the Middle East. With questions around morality at its heart, this thought-provoking play examines the cost of sending naïve young people to war, and the catastrophic reverberations for the West’s moral authority. Monique Touko directs Roy Williams’ acclaimed work 20 years on from the Iraq War.

Yerma by Federico García Lorca, adapted by Ursula Rani Sarma

Monday 23 – Saturday 28 October, Milton Court Theatre

Suffocating in a life void of passion, a young woman longs for a child but is tormented by the social stigma of being in a childless marriage. As she desperately turns to unconventional sources for answers, her controversial actions send shockwaves through her community. Lorca’s compelling and elemental tragedy taps into some of the most universal themes of theatre – love, passion, sexuality and marriage – to tell the story of one woman’s quest to become a mother. This production, directed by Sophie Dillon Moniram, revives Ursula Sarma Rani’s adaptation of Yerma which premiered at West Yorkshire Playhouse in 2011.


Opera Double Bill: Respighi

Monday 6 – Monday 13 November, 7pm, Silk Street Theatre

The life stories of two eponymous female heroes are explored in this double bill of captivating operatic works by Italian composer Ottorino Respighi. Maria eqiziaca and La bella dormente nel bosco will be conducted by Dominic Wheeler and directed by Victoria Newlyn.

Maria egiziaca (Mary of Egypt) charts the decades-long spiritual journey of the third-century Christian saint Mary, weaving references to the ancient traditions of her time into the opera’s musical language. First performed at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1931, it was originally intended as a ‘concert triptych’, but this production offers the rare opportunity to see it fully staged.

A more famous tale, La bella dormente nel bosco is Respighi’s take on Sleeping Beauty, with a sparkling score and imaginative array of human, animal and supernatural characters. The opera comes to the Silk Street Theatre stage three years after an innovative digital version was presented by Guildhall School during the pandemic lockdown.


Guildhall Symphony Orchestra & Chorus

Friday 29 September, 7.30pm, Barbican Hall

More than 200 Guildhall musicians take to the Barbican stage to celebrate the start of the academic year with an inspiring programme featuring Notes from a Wilderness by critically lauded Guildhall composer Amy Crankshaw and Stravinsky’s Le chant du Rossignol conducted by Jack Sheen, and Richard Strauss’ Festliches Präludium and Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast conducted by Dominic Wheeler.

Milton Court 10th Anniversary Celebration

Wednesday 25 October, 7pm, Milton Court Concert Hall

Guildhall Chamber Orchestra, under the baton of Joshua Weilerstein, presents a special evening of music to celebrate 10 years of Milton Court. The programme will include the world premiere of a newly commissioned piece by Hollie Harding, Associate Head of Composition at Guildhall School.

Milton Court opened its doors in 2013, adding three world-class performance venues to Guildhall School’s existing facilities. It has since allowed the School’s musicians, actors and production artists more scope than ever to present performances in the building’s state-of-the-art Theatre, Studio Theatre and Concert Hall.

Guildhall Symphony Orchestra

Wednesday 22 November, 7.30pm, Barbican Hall

Leading Dutch conductor Antony Hermus joins Guildhall Symphony Orchestra in Barbican Hall. The atmospheric eight-minute Frontispiece by South Korean composer Unsuk Chin kicks off a programme which also features the kaleidoscopic suite from Bartók’s pantomime opera The Miraculous Mandarin, and Alexander von Zemlinsky’s The Mermaid – a fantasy for orchestra based on the fairytale by Hans Christian Andersen.

Elégie – Rachmaninov: A Heart in Exile

Sunday 26 November, 7pm, Milton Court Concert Hall

Elégie chronicles the life of composer and pianist Sergei Rachmaninov. Though he became an exile in 1917, Russia remained deeply rooted in his soul. His cultural identity and his longing for his homeland imbue his music, not least the many much-loved works he wrote for his own instrument, the piano. In this concert celebrated Guildhall alumni Lucy Parham and Sir Simon Russell Beale join forces to explore many of Rachmaninov’s best-loved works for solo piano, including a selection of PreludesEtudes-Tableaux and Moments Musicaux, some of his own transcriptions and the haunting Elégie, as well as works by Scriabin and Tchaikovsky. This event is part of the Milton Court at 10 celebrations.

Clarinet Masterclass with Anthony McGill
Thursday 30 November, 7pm, Milton Court Concert Hall

Milton Court Artist-in-Residence Anthony McGill shares his ‘lustrous sound and dynamic range’ (Bachtrack) with outstanding musicians from Guildhall School in an evening masterclass presented in partnership with the Barbican. From becoming the first African American musician to hold a principal role in the New York Philharmonic to performing at Obama’s inauguration, Anthony McGill has blazed a trail as one of classical music’s most brilliantly multifaceted figures.


Guildhall Jazz Orchestra & Jazz Choir

Wednesday 27 September, 7pm, Milton Court Concert Hall

Guildhall Jazz Orchestra, under the direction of Scott Stroman and with special guest vocalist Tommy Blaize, presents the UK premiere performance of George Russell’s seminal New York, N.Y. suite. Celebrating the vibrations of an international city, New York, N.Y. brings disparate influences and experiences into one joyous sound. The evening will also feature Guildhall Jazz Choir directed by Clare Wheeler, with special guest vocalist, saxophonist and arranger, Darmon Meader.

Guildhall Jazz Orchestra: The Music of Bill Russo

Friday 3 November, 7.30pm, Milton Court Concert Hall

Guildhall Jazz Orchestra and Morley College Jazz Orchestra join forces to celebrate music by American composer, arranger and trombonist Bill Russo. A major figure in the third-stream movement, seeking to find common ground between jazz and classical music, Russo worked in London from 1962 to 1965 while employed at the BBC, founding the London Jazz Orchestra and conducting the Morley Jazz Orchestra while in residence. Scott Stroman directs Guildhall Jazz Orchestra and Richard Pywell directs Morley College Jazz Orchestra in the second of two joint performances of Russo’s music, the first taking place in Morley College’s Emma Cons Hall on Friday 20 October. 

Guildhall Jazz Festival

Monday 13 – Saturday 18 November, Milton Court Concert Hall & Barbican Foyer Stage

The creativity and originality of the Guildhall Jazz community is celebrated in the return of the School’s Jazz Festival in November, presented in partnership with EFG London Jazz Festival.

Three afternoons and evenings of performances in Milton Court Concert Hall will be headlined by Ari Hoenig (13 November), Nikki Yeoh (15 November) and Zara McFarlane (18 November) with a wealth of performances by Guildhall Jazz students and alumni being showcased throughout the days. These performances, part of Milton Court’s 10th anniversary celebrations, are free of charge to attend and will be live streamed.

As part of the festival, Guildhall Jazz musicians also perform in Barbican Foyer ahead of the LSO’s Barbican Hall concert A World of Possibilities – Duncan Ward & Abel Selaocoe on 16 November.

Guildhall Jazz Orchestra & Jazz Choir

Monday 4 December, 7.30pm, Milton Court Concert Hall

Inspired by medieval French chanson and folk song traditions, Steve Gray and Norma Winstone’s combined collaborative vision created Songs of the Auvergne, a mirage of pastoral magic.

Drawing on Joseph Canteloube’s song collection Chants d’Auvergne, this powerfully evocative suite of music will be performed by Guildhall Jazz Orchestra and Choir under the direction of Scott Stroman and with special guest vocalist, the world-famous British jazz singer Norma Winstone.

Guildhall Live Events

Blackpool Lightpool Festival

Friday 20 – Saturday 28 October, Blackpool

Guildhall School presents two new artworks – Lightquake at Blackpool Tower and Seraphic at Sacred Heart Church – as part of Blackpool’s annual celebration of light. Created by Guildhall staff and students, the animations and original music will draw on themes of imagination from a style that aims to disrupt the conventional.

Children and Young People

London Schools Symphony Orchestra: Symphonic Scenery

Wednesday 13 September, 7.30pm, Barbican Hall

The London Schools Symphony Orchestra (LSSO) returns to the Barbican stage under the batons of Matthew Lynch and Bradley Wilson in a programme of highly expressive music inspired by scenes and poems. Lili Boulanger’s impressionistic D’un matin de printemps welcomes in Eric Whitacre’s Equus – conducted by Bradley Wilson in his last concert as Conductor in Residence with the LSSO in association with Black Lives in Music. Mythical evocation comes in the form of Dvořák’s Water Goblin and the orchestra showcases Mussorgsky’s Pictures at an Exhibition in Ravel’s popular orchestrated version. This concert is part of the LSSO’s summer tour, with other performances of the same programme taking place in Cambridge (28 July), Birmingham (30 July) and Oxford (2 August).

Junior Guildhall Symphony Orchestra

Saturday 9 December, 6pm, Milton Court Concert Hall

Junior Guildhall’s Symphony Orchestra and String Ensemble, conducted by Julian Clayton, return to the Milton Court Concert Hall stage with a programme including Edward Elgar’s invigorating Cockaigne Overture and Eric Coates’ ever-popular London Suite.

Free events

In addition to the above events, Guildhall School offers audiences an array of regular concerts, masterclasses, recitals, competitions and seminars which are free of charge to attend. Highlights this season include regular solo and chamber music recitals by outstanding Guildhall instrumentalists; vocal showcases in specially curated ‘Songs at Six’ performances; Jazz gigs including performances by the Guildhall Big Band and Guildhall Improvisers’ Workshop; a Film Music Showcase by the Guildhall Session Orchestra; concerts by the School’s Ubu Ensemble, Cantata Project and Saxophone Ensemble; and a showcase of work by MA Collaborative Theatre Production and Design students. Visit for full listings.


Throughout the year, Guildhall School’s Research department runs a regular series of free, online ResearchWorks events that are open to all, providing a space to share and discuss the School’s innovative research with staff, students and the wider public. It embraces a wide range of disciplines within Music, Drama and Production Arts including composition, performance, pedagogy, cultural history and musicology, scenography, theatre studies and music therapy. In partnership with the School’s Institute for Social Impact Research, the series also looks at the ways in which performing arts can have a positive impact on a wide variety of societal issues. Full details of the season will be announced in September at