• Full programme announced for the Philharmonia Orchestra’s online summer series, filmed and recorded at Battersea Arts Centre, opening with Sheku Kanneh-Mason (16 July)
  • Paavo Järvi conducts a Philharmonia Session (17 September), with Nicola Benedetti performing The Lark Ascending
  • family concert (22 August) themed around connection and togetherness links with Southbank Centre‘s Everday Heroes exhibition, which celebrates key workers
  • Classic FM partners with the Philharmonia on the project, streaming each Session on its Facebook page

The Philharmonia Orchestra today announces the full programme for The Philharmonia Sessions – a summer programme of three world class free digital concerts, broadcast online and conceived and created especially for an online audience.

The first Philharmonia Session will be broadcast on Thursday 16 July at 7pm (originally listed as Friday 17 July) and will see cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason join the Orchestra to perform Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto No. 1, in a programme that also includes Vaughan Williams’s Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis, both conducted by John Wilson.

The series continues on Saturday 22 August 2020, at 11am, with a family concert conducted by Holly Mathieson and presented by Lucy Drever. Created for families of all shapes and sizes to enjoy, the performance is built around the theme of ‘connection’, of joining together after the lockdown. It will include Ravel’s Mother Goose Suite and George Walker’s Lyric for Strings. The concert will also connect with the Southbank Centre’s Everyday Heroes outdoor art and poetry exhibition, which celebrates the key workers who gave so much to support society during the pandemic. A performance of Jessie Montgomery’s Starburst will be interwoven with community artwork depicting local heroes.

In the final Session of this summer run, on Thursday 17 September 2020, at 7pm, Paavo Järvi conducts the Philharmonia in Schubert’sSymphony No. 5, and Nicola Benedetti performs Vaughan Williams’s The Lark Ascending. The violinist, who last performed with the Philharmonia at a sold-out Royal Festival Hall in June 2019, has been a prominent voice for classical music during the Coronavirus crisis, and has engaged thousands of musicians with her online Virtual Benedetti Sessions during the shutdown.

The Philharmonia Sessions are in partnership with Classic FM, the UK’s most popular classical music station. Each Session will be streamed on Classic FM’s Facebook page, which has over 3.7 million followers and 30 million video views each month, making it the biggest Facebook page in UK radio.

Michael Fuller, Interim Managing Director of the Philharmonia Orchestra, said: “We are delighted to present the Philharmonia Sessions to audiences in the UK and across the world this summer. This series is a start for the Philharmonia after the long shutdown, and a prelude to more intensive online performance activity in the autumn, to be announced soon.

“The Philharmonia Sessions are presented in the most uncertain of times for the whole sector, but we have been determined to get the Philharmonia playing again and finding creative ways to share our music with audiences worldwide. Many thanks to our partners at Classic FM, to our generous supporters and audiences, and of course to Arts Council England.”

Performed with a chamber-size orchestra, the Philharmonia Sessions will be filmed several days in advance of their broadcast at Battersea Arts Centre. During the broadcasts, the Orchestra will ask those that can to make a donation. Access to the arts is a fundamental right, so the Philharmonia Sessions are free and for everyone. However, this work and the Orchestra’s ability to plan for the future are only made possible thanks to the support of Friends and Donors. Audience donations will keep the Philharmonia playing and secure the future of the Orchestra. The Orchestra is in close dialogue with the Southbank Centre to bring music back to audiences as soon as possible; announcements will be made shortly.

The Philharmonia Sessions are supported by John and Carol Wates, and the Wates Foundation.