Southbank Centre announces new classical music strategy with Autumn/Winter 2022/23 programme


L-R: Víkingur Ólafsson © Ari Magg; Abel Selaocoe © Christina Ebenezer; Iveta Apkalna © Ko-Cheng Lin

The Southbank Centre has today revealed its Autumn/Winter 2022/23 classical music programme – the first edition under the curatorship of Head of Classical Music Toks Dada since arriving at the Southbank Centre. The Autumn/Winter programme, which runs from September 2022 until January 2023, emphasises the Southbank Centre’s commitment to innovation and diversity. Programme highlights include:

  • New experiences introducing new audiences to classical music including Paraorchestra’s immersive orchestral experience, Barokksolistene’s 17th century alehouse, Aurora Orchestra’s thrilling ‘Symphonie Fantastique’, and The Multi-Story Orchestra with special shows for families
  • A commitment to championing artists as part of a new cohort of Resident Artists, in collaboration with the Southbank Centre’s Resident Orchestras, featuring genre-blurring pioneers and big names in classical music: Abel Selaocoe, Daniel Pioro, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Víkingur Ólafsson and Manchester Collective
  • A refreshed contemporary programme featuring exciting new commissions, world premiere album projects, and multimedia experiences including a specially made production from violist Lawrence Power and creative studio Âme
  • A celebration of two towering figures of the 20th century: Shostakovich and Xenakis, as well as global stars of keyboard and chamber music including Mahan Esfahani, Iveta Apkalna, Nobuyuki Tsujii, Jeneba Kanneh-Mason, Emerson Quartet, Colin Currie Group, JACK Quartet, Isata Kanneh-Mason and Maxwell Quartet

Tickets for the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 programme will be on sale on Thursday 5 May via

The 2022/23 programme celebrates classical music in the 21st century, championing innovation and diversity, creating new spaces for experiencing classical music, and projects that stretch the creative boundaries of the genre. To further underscore these ambitions, the Southbank Centre is delighted to announce two new additions to its group of Resident Orchestras: Aurora Orchestra and Chineke! Orchestra.

Aurora Orchestra — founded in 2005 — presents vibrant musical adventures that share a passion for music with the broadest possible audience; from 2022/23 Southbank Centre will be the home of Aurora’s distinctive ‘Orchestral Theatre’ work, including memorised performances and the cross-artform collaborations for which it has become best known. Chineke! Orchestra, founded in 2015 with its debut concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall, is Europe’s first majority Black and ethnically diverse orchestra, performing a mixture of standard orchestral repertoire along with the works of Black and ethnically diverse composers both past and present. They will join the Southbank Centre’s existing group of Resident Orchestras the London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Sinfonietta, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Philharmonia Orchestra, who will also present a dynamic range of programming during the season.

The Southbank Centre will also continue to offer a joined up ‘multi-buy’ ticket scheme, together with its family of orchestras, allowing audiences to curate their own journey through the rich and varied programme, irrespective of the orchestra, strand or series.

Opening Weekend
The Opening Weekend of the 2022/23 programme captures all the excitement, imagination and accessibility of the season as a whole, inviting the broadest range of audiences to engage with the opening of the classical year. The special schedule, which enables attendees to experience nearly every show during the weekend, features a variety of start times and formats to encourage a greater range of attendees, whether it’s matinee performances for families or late-night concerts.

The Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Principal Conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali, will start proceedings during the weekend-long festival with a mix of contemporary and classic works, including John Adams’ ‘Must the Devil Have All the Good Tunes?’ with Southbank Centre Resident Artist, pianist Víkingur Ólafsson, alongside Anna Clyne’s ‘Masquerade’ and Mahler’s Symphony No.5 (Thu 22 Sep, RFH). On Friday 23 September, the Southbank Centre will be alive with sound and spirit as acclaimed organist Iveta Apkalna, principal organist of the Elbphilharmonie, will illustrate the sheer majesty of her skill on the Royal Festival Hall organ with works by Bach, Widor and Philip Glass. In the Queen Elizabeth Hall, many hands make light work as Graham Fitkin, Kathryn Stott, Clare Hammond and Ruth Wall perform a thrilling programme of work for eight hands including Steve Reich, Unsuk Chin, John Adams and Anna Meredith, as well as a new work by Graham Fitkin including environmental sounds, triggered samples and spoken word.

Representing the unconventional and uncompromising performances curated in the Purcell Room, Bjarte Eike and Barokksolistene, with Mary Bevan, invite audiences to a concert inspired by the joyous end of Oliver Cromwell’s 18-year closure of theatres and music venues. The raucous revelry will then spill over into the QEH Foyer for an immersive and unique late-night experience dubbed ‘The Alehouse Sessions’. Playing entirely from memory, Eike and his ‘Alehouse Boys’ will mix Purcell and Playford with sea shanties and folk songs, transforming the QEH Foyer into a riotous glimmer of the 17th century Southbank where all can enjoy a bit of mirth and levity.

On Saturday 24 September the Paraorchestra will stage an immersive orchestral experience featuring music by Steve Reich spanning the Royal Festival Hall Foyer, introducing new audiences to classical music. Later that day in the Royal Festival Hall, Edward Gardner returns to open the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2022/23 season at the Southbank Centre, his second as Principal Conductor. He and the Orchestra perform Schoenberg’s cantata ‘Gurrelieder’, a work inspired by the poems of Danish naturalist Jens Peter Jacobsen.

Manchester Collective will make their season debut with a multimedia production of Michael Gordon’s ‘Weather’ in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, featuring an hour-long, immersive sound installation from Chris Watson, the legendary field recording artist and David Attenborough acolyte. In response to the rapidly changing global climate, each movement will depict a different habitat that has been shaped by extreme weather events as audiences are transported to a variety of dramatic landscapes. Víkingur Ólafsson makes his second appearance of the weekend with two instalments in the intimate Purcell Room, performing the world premiere of Edmund Finnis’ ‘Mirror Images’, commissioned by the Southbank Centre, alongside Philip Glass’ instantly recognisable ‘Etudes’.

On Sunday 25 September, the Royal Festival Hall will host the Philharmonia Orchestra and violinist Carolin Widmann in a programme featuring Korngold’s Violin Concerto alongside George Walker’s ‘Lyric for Strings’ and Mahler’s Symphony No.1. Closing the Opening Weekend, in a major Southbank Centre first, versatile cellist Abel Selaocoe will begin his Southbank Centre Artist Residency on the launch weekend of his debut solo album (Warner Classics). Abel appears in the Queen Elizabeth Hall with ‘Where is Home (Hae Ke Kae)’, drawing on his native South African culture, including Tswana rhythmic dances and string instruments Sekhankhula from Lesotho and Zeze from Tanzania, while creating bridges with traditional baroque music.

Artist Residencies
In addition to his album launch project, Abel Selaocoe will also feature during his Southbank Centre residency as part of Chesaba (Sat 5 Nov, Purcell Room) with Alan Keary and Sidiki Dembélé. An electrifying trio of African celebration, blending of cello, kora, n’goni, African percussion, double bass and voice, Chesaba has a vibrant and virtuosic rhythmic expression coupled with powerful traditional melodies. Further projects as part of Abel’s residency will be announced as part of the Spring/Summer 2023 programme including a bold Southbank Centre commission for Abel and kora player Seckou Keita featuring newly announced Resident Orchestra Chineke! Orchestra.

Returning for a second year of his residency, Víkingur Ólafsson features heavily throughout Autumn/Winter 2022/23, opening and closing it with concerto appearances with Southbank Centre Resident Orchestras. In addition to appearing with the Philharmonia Orchestra (Thu 22 Sep) and premiering a new work in the Purcell Room (Sat 24 Sep), Ólafsson will join the visiting international orchestra, Montreal Symphony Orchestra (Fri 28 Oct, RFH), conducted by Rafael Payare, for a dramatic night of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G, Shostakovich’s Symphony No.10 and the Canadian composer Murray R. Schafer’s ‘Scorpius​​’. The pianist will also appear with baritone and Wigmore Hall medal recipient Matthias Goerne (Fri 9 Dec, RFH) before performing with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Sat 28 Jan, RFH) for the UK premiere of Mark Simpson’s Piano Concerto.

Meanwhile, celebrated violinist Daniel Pioro, an ardent advocate for new and experimental music, starts his Southbank Centre residency with the London Philharmonic Orchestra (Wed 26 Oct, RFH) with the London premiere of Tom Coult’s new violin concerto, ‘Pleasure Garden’, before taking over the QEH Foyer and Purcell Room (Sun 22 Jan) with James McVinnie on organ and harpsichord for a marathon day-long programme of Biber’s ‘Rosary Sonatas’ featuring performances from sunrise to sunset.

Cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason will be kicking off his residency at the Southbank Centre on Thursday 29 September at the Royal Festival Hall alongside the Philharmonia Orchestra, under the guidance of conductor Marin Alsop. Performing Haydn Cello Concertos No.1 and 2, Kanneh-Mason, the first Black musician to win the BBC Young Musician award, is the Philharmonia’s Featured Artist for 2022/23 and will feature in several projects throughout the year.

Starting with their opening weekend performance of ‘Weather’, Manchester Collective will continue their residency with a typically bold and ambitious run of shows. On Sunday 4 December, Manchester Collective, led by violinist and guest director, Pekka Kuusisto, will test the sonic boundaries of the Purcell Room with ‘Places We Know’ featuring a new work by Oliver Leith, co-commissioned by the Southbank Centre, and works by Orlando Gibbons, Henry Purcell, William Byrd, and Sam Amidon. More shows with Manchester Collective will be announced later in the year.

Contemporary Edit
In addition to Abel Selaocoe and Manchester Collective, the refreshed Contemporary Edit features some of the most radical, innovative musicians today.

Continuing the use of multimedia exhibited in Manchester Collective’s ‘Weather’, Lawrence Power and creative studio Âme will unveil their bespoke production, ‘Fathom’ (Thu 1 Dec) developed specifically for the Purcell Room, enveloping audiences in a visceral fusion of live performance, cinematic projection and intricate 360 sound design, featuring specially commissioned music by Peter Gregson, Cassandra Miller, Thomas Larcher and others. More projects in the Purcell Room include Joby Burgess, one of the UK’s most imaginative percussionists. On the launch date of his latest solo album (Signum Records), ‘A Percussionist’s Songbook’ (Fri 30 Sep), his performance will feature an expansive range of works by Tunde Jegede, John Metcalfe, Dario Marianelli, Yaz Ahmed, Graham Fitkin, Dobrinka Tabakova, Gabriel Prokofiev and Burgess himself.

The BBC Concert Orchestra celebrates jazz pioneer Charles Mingus 100 years after his birth with saxophonist Lakecia Benjamin for a journey through Mingus’ musical influences including Duke Ellington, followed by the UK premiere of Guy Barker’s ‘Mingus Suite’ with brand-new arrangements of the luminary’s greatest music performed by the full forces of the BBC Concert Orchestra, alongside Barker’s 16-piece New Jazz Orchestra (Fri 30 Sep, QEH). The BBC Concert Orchestra continues to explore jazz in a concert for the London Jazz Festival with the Marcin Wasilewski Trio and star-trumpeter Avishai Cohen to pay tribute to renowned trumpeter and composer Tomasz Stańko (Wed 16 Nov, QEH). Montreal-based six-piece instrumental band Bell Orchestre perform their latest work ‘House Music’ – an album sculpted from a 90-minute improvisation – with the BBC Concert Orchestra for the latest live edition of BBC Radio 3 programme, Unclassified Live, presented by Elizabeth Alker and conducted by André de Ridder (Wed 25 Jan, QEH).

London Philharmonic Orchestra ventures into the Purcell Room for the first time with late-night experimental events taking composers featured in Royal Festival Hall, showcasing them as composer-performers in the Purcell Room. The first of these new events features Polish singer Agata Zubel (Wed 9 Nov) and Syrian clarinettist Kinan Azmeh (Wed 19 Jan). The Philharmonia Orchestra continue their free ‘Music of Today’ series, premiering several co-commissions. They give the UK premiere of ‘Strange Loops’, by the orchestra’s Featured Composer Anna Clyne, on Thursday 3 November while the world premiere of ‘Staggered Nocturne’ by Luke Bedford, featuring percussionist Colin Currie, will take place on Thursday 24 November. Meanwhile, The Hermes Experiment (Fri 4 Nov), recipient of the Young Artist Award at the Royal Philharmonic Society Awards 2021, will deliver their invigorating dynamism with a programme featuring work from Timothy Cape, Mira Calix and more.

In the Royal Festival Hall, the London Philharmonic Orchestra gives the UK premiere of Tan Dun’s reflective ‘Buddha Passion’ (Sun 22 Jan, RFH) with the London Chinese Philharmonic Choir featuring a range of soloists including Sen Guo and Huiling Zhu. With Dun conducting, ‘Buddha Passion’ combines the legends of Buddhism and the tradition of Bach’s great choral Passions, drawing on ancient Chinese and Sanskrit texts to retell a story of universal significance: a tale of wonder, of truth and of gentle but irresistible transformation. Zvonimir Hačko helms the London Sinfonietta (Thu 3 Nov, QEH) for an evening of works by renowned Polish composer Krzysztof Penderecki, whose 70-year composing career exemplified the arc of Polish musical modernism in a new association between the ensemble and the International Centre for Contemporary Music (ICCM).

ntimate Keyboard & Chamber Music Recitals
Finally, two key strands – Keyboard Music and Chamber Music – will run throughout the 2022/23 programme.

Central to Chamber Music will be projects celebrating towering figures of the 20th century. On Saturday 8 October in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, the Southbank Centre celebrates Iannis Xenakis, whose joyously visceral aesthetic shocked even the musical avant-garde in the 1950s, and to this day comes across as stunningly and unpredictably futuristic. The day opens with the London Sinfonietta conducted by Geoffrey Paterson, followed by the inimitable Colin Currie Group, who will perform a selection of Xenakis’ works alongside the JACK Quartet. The Emerson String Quartet will perform the final two dates (Tue 8 and Wed 9 Nov, QEH) of an ambitious two-year project performing all of Shostakovich’s string quartets, and Isata Kanneh-Mason will appear with the Maxwell Quartet performing a programme of Mendelssohn, Dohnányi and Eleanor Alberga (Fri 27 Jan, QEH).

Keyboard recitals, meanwhile, will include concerts by Iveta Alpkana and Víkingur Ólafsson, renowned Iranian harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani (Fri 14 Oct, QEH) and the exceptional Nobuyuki Tsujii (Sun 6 Nov, QEH), who has become one of the world’s most formidable pianists. On Sunday 15 January, Eric Lu, who received the First Prize and gold medal at the Leeds International Piano Competition in 2018, will dazzle the Queen Elizabeth Hall with his exceptional talent during a night of Chopin and Scriabin.

Creating new ways to experience classical music
Creating space for new audiences is integral to the future of classical music. In addition to Barokksolistene’s 17th century alehouse experience and Paraorchestra’s immersive orchestral experience in the Opening Weekend, Aurora Orchestra and actor Mathew Baynton (Horrible Histories, Ghosts) present an orchestral theatre production of Berlioz’ ‘Symphonie Fantastique’ (Tue 27 Sep, RFH). Originally presented at the BBC Proms in 2019 as one of the most talked-about orchestral events of the past decade, the production returns to London this autumn for a special one-off performance, with stunning stage and costume design, theatrical lighting, movement, and Berlioz’ own words about his music.

The Multi-Story Orchestra will appear throughout the autumn (Sun 6 Nov and Sat 3 Dec, QEH Foyer) introducing classical music to families and young people. The Southbank Centre also welcomes the return of the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s hugely popular family concerts FUNharmonics. Starting Sunday 2 October in the Royal Festival Hall, Edward Gardner leads the LPO through Britten’s ‘Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra’ as presenter Rachel Leach brings the music to life through audience interaction and a multimedia presentation. Later, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will perform with young people from across Camden, showcasing ‘The Moon Hares’ (Wed 2 Nov, QEH) – a new community opera commissioned and created by the OAE with music by James Redwood mixed with sections from Purcell’s Dioclesian. The opera follows the residents of a mysterious village with a strict set of rules and regulations on their journey of self-realisation as they discover and inhabit their fluffy alter-egos.

Toks Dada, Head of Classical Music at the Southbank Centre, said: “With this programme, we are being artist-driven, audience-focused, and pushing forward the artform of classical music. We are championing a new cohort of Resident Artists, in collaboration with our new group of Resident Orchestras, featuring genre-blurring pioneers with whom we are commissioning new work and enabling their creative vision.We’re working with new partners to create new ways for people to experience classical music, in many cases for the very first time, including an immersive orchestral experience from Paraorchestra, Barokksolistene’s 17th-century alehouse, and events for young people, including The Multi-Story Orchestra’s musical journey around our site. We also celebrate our multicultural society with work that reflects cultures worldwide; celebrate 20th-century pioneers; and bring multimedia into the concert hall. Beginning with the curated Opening Weekend Festival, we are inviting more people to immerse themselves in the wonder of classical music.”

Gillian Moore, Director of Music at the Southbank Centre, said: “The Southbank Centre has always been the place where artists who are changing the landscape of classical music can find a home. I’m delighted that we are able to add Aurora Orchestra and Chineke! Orchestra, two ensembles who have brought freshness and diversity to orchestral music, to our family of brilliant Resident Orchestras, and that Toks has established new relationships with forward-thinking artists and ensembles who are in the vanguard of innovation.

Mark Ball, Artistic Director at the Southbank Centre, added: “This is a thrilling new programme, infused with musical inventiveness and innovation, that draws together some of the most exciting creative talent from today’s classical musical world. Filled with diversity, topicality, serious music-making, re-imagined formats and a dash of fun, this is a programme to stir the imaginations of both established and newer, younger audiences for classical music. Importantly, at a time when the expectations of the broader cultural landscape are shifting, this programme, which includes wonderful contributions from our family of Resident Orchestras that call the Southbank Centre their home, shows that the classical music world is emerging from the pandemic with confidence, relevance and vigour.”

On joining the Resident Orchestra line-up, Aurora Creative Director Jane Mitchell said: “We are enormously excited and proud to be starting a new chapter as one of Southbank Centre’s Resident Orchestras. Many of Aurora’s happiest artistic memories have been forged at the Southbank Centre, and we’re thrilled to be able to expand and deepen the relationship. As Resident Orchestra we look forward to offering the richest experience of orchestral music to audiences of all ages and backgrounds, both in and beyond the concert hall.”

Chineke! Founder and Artistic and Executive Director, Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE meanwhile commented: “The Southbank Centre was the first organisation to step forward and support Chineke! by giving us the platform for our launch concert at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in September 2015. We are extremely proud to now be invited to become a Resident Orchestra and are hopeful and excited about how this creative partnership will promote a future of classical music that opens more doors and truly inspires and reflects our communities long into the future.

More from Southbank Centre’s Resident Orchestras
In addition to the Southbank Centre’s core strands, its Resident Orchestras will be showcasing a wealth of talent and creative prowess.

Following Aurora Orchestra becoming a Resident Orchestra, the Southbank Centre will become the home for its trademark innovative orchestral theatre. In addition to ‘Symphonie Fantastique’, more projects which stretch the presentation of classical music will be revealed later in the year.

Newly announced Resident Orchestra, Chineke! Orchestra, will bring their strings to the fore on Sunday 9 October in an evening of gems from the 18th to 21st century, including Holst, Vaughan Williams and Coleridge Taylor. The second half of the concert will be one of contrasts with Jessie Montgomery’s uplifting miniature ‘Starburst’ followed by Philip Herbert’s ‘Elegy: In memoriam Stephen Lawrence’, written as a homage to the young Londoner whose life was brutally cut short in 1993. On 27 November in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Chineke! will be joined by pianist Jeneba Kanneh-Mason who will perform Florence B Price’s ‘Piano Concerto in One Movement’ – which is actually in three distinct movements, the last of which is an electrifying ‘Juba Dance’ which originated in the Congo and became an African-American plantation dance performed by enslaved people during their gatherings.

London Philharmonic Orchestra’s 2022/23 season includes a major focus entitled ‘A place to call home’, which looks at what it means to have a place of safety and explores issues of kinship, inclusion and belonging on the one hand, and exclusion, racism and political instability on the other. Highlights include Syrian composer and clarinettist Kinan Azmeh performing the European premiere of his own Clarinet Concerto which was commissioned in the aftermath of the 2017 travel ban issued by the US government to prevent people from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the US (Wed 18 Jan, RFH). The Orchestra also presents music from a broad range of female composers, including Chen Yi (Fri 4 Nov, RFH), Agata Zubel (Wed 9 Nov, RFH) and Gabriela Ortiz (Fri 13 Jan, RFH). Edward Gardner appears eight times with the Orchestra as part of Autumn/Winter 2022/23 while Principal Guest Conductor Karina Canellakis joins the Orchestra for three concerts (Wed 19 Oct and Fri 21 Oct as well as later in the programme). The season also marks Composer-in-Residence Brett Dean’s third year with the LPO with his music featuring in three concerts. The Orchestra is joined by many world class soloists and guest conductors throughout the season.

In addition to its exploration of two giants of contemporary music — Iannis Xenakis and Krzysztof Penderecki — the London Sinfonietta performs the London premiere of ‘Sleeping Patterns’ by Justė Janulytė (Fri 2 Dec, QEH), conducted by Jack Sheen — a hypnotically repetitive piece which echoes a sleeping human body and all the regular but not synchronised sounds our heartbeat, blood flow and breathing create in sleep.

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) explores travel as a final thematic dimension to their ‘Six Chapters of Enlightenment’ series at the Southbank Centre. Travel and the idea of leaving home left a deep impression on the British and European mindset in the 17th and 18th centuries. The promise of adventure on the high seas as a symbol for spiritual discovery is found throughout literature of the Enlightenment including Candide, Gulliver’s Travels and the emergence of the travelogue. It reached a peak around the time of Cook’s ‘discovery’ of Australia and Antarctica with the publication of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner in 1798. Samuel Coleridge Taylor’s wild epic poem, ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’ narrated by Rory Kinnear, is (re)mixed with music by Henry Purcell to create an immersive journey through calm seas, auspicious gales and supernatural elements (Wed 5 Nov, QEH). January brings the ‘Sounds for the End of a Century’ with Steven Isserlis and Maxim Emelyanchev; from the image of the earth being set on fire to the blazing organ chords of Symphony No.3, the OAE rediscover the work of Camille Saint-Saëns, the original French master of colour (Thu 26 Jan, RFH).

Following the Phiharmonia Orchestra’s appearances during the Opening Weekend, young Norwegian conductor Tabita Berglund makes her Philharmonia debut (Sun 30 Oct, RFH), with her former cello teacher Truls Mørk (Prokofiev’s Sinfonia Concertante). There is also a celebration of Vaughan Williams with The Bach Choir to mark the 150th anniversary of his birth (Thu 17 Nov, RFH). Acclaimed violinist Lisa Batiashvili, and Israeli conductor Lahav Shani make a welcome return to the Philharmonia (Thu 8 Dec, RFH), Yuja Wang performs Rachmaninov’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and Piano Concerto No.1 (Sun 11 Dec, RFH), and conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali joins forces with virtuoso violinist Nemanja Radulović in a programme including Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto (Thu 9 Jan, RFH), with more to be announced in the autumn.