Uncovering the canon: Southbank Centre announces Classical Music Spring/Summer 2024

L-R: Pekka Kuusisto © Magnus Skrede; Yuja Wang © Norbert Kniat; James McVinnie © Graham Lacado

The Southbank Centre and its family of Resident Orchestras today announce its Classical Music Spring/Summer 2024 programme. Featuring a vast array of music, from ambitious new works by world-class artists, ensembles and orchestras to established work from the canon, the season spotlights undiscovered voices and works as well as new commissions and theatrical presentations of classical music. 

Highlights include:

 Multiple concert theatre productions from Resident Artist Patricia Kopatchinskaja as well as the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra with its Artistic Director Pekka Kuusisto

 Major projects unearthing rarely heard repertoire: Sound Within Sound – ​​a festival showcasing ten radical 20th century composers from across the world; Voices from the East – a celebration of symphonic traditions and repertoire from Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Georgia, Armenia, and Ukraine with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Chief Conductor Kirill Karabits; and Nicholas McCarthy exploring repertoire composed for the left hand only

 Staggering symphonic works including the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s conclusion of Wagner’s Ring Cycle with Götterdämmerung, conducted by Vladimir Jurowski, a three-part Mendelssohn Cycle by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, and the Philharmonia Orchestra with Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius

 Royal Festival Hall Organ at 70 series celebrating the inauguration of the Royal Festival Hall organ in 1954 featuring new Resident Artist James McVinnie performing alongside Tristan Perich, and performances from Iveta Apkalna and Katelyn Emerson

 Contemporary Edit features the album launch event for Héloïse Werner with Delphian Records; a 20th anniversary celebration of independent label nonclassical; BBC Concert Orchestra with Moor Mother for Unclassified Live; and the London Sinfonietta performing three UK premieres from Sky MacklayMichel van der Aa and Katherine Balch and a favourite past commission from George Lewis; and the Philharmonia Orchestra with Julia Bullock for her History’s Persistent Voice project

 Unique events such as Aurora Orchestra’s Beethoven’s Symphony No.3 from memory; a dedication to Mark Rothko with Resident Artist Manchester Collective featuring new commissions and a dazzling light installation; Paraorchestra’s Trip the Light Fantastic by composer Sinéad McMillan (AKA Surgeons Girl); and Chineke! Orchestra with a new handpan concerto commission from Cassie Kinoshi

 Compelling chamber and keyboard recitals including Resident Artists Alice Sara Ott with the Philharmonia Orchestra performing a new commission by Bryce Dessner, and Randall Goosby with the Renaissance Quartet, plus Yuja Wang

Toks Dada, Head of Classical Music at the Southbank Centre, said: “With this programme, we are bringing a fresh perspective to the incredible story of classical music by working with artists who are presenting major works in original ways and shining a spotlight on under-performed repertoire. We welcome international guests the Norwegian Chamber Orchestra with its Artistic Director Pekka Kuusisto for a unique concert-theatre experience, and our Resident Artists continue to find new ways to showcase work from the great classical music tradition, staging ambitious theatrical productions. Alongside our Resident Orchestras bringing many opportunities to experience the full power of the symphony orchestra, we are taking audiences on a journey of discovery, celebrating symphonic traditions from across the globe. We also continue to provide a platform for the incredible artists working today with new commissions and premieres. With our incredible Resident Orchestras and Resident Artists, as well as our visiting orchestras, ensembles and musicians, we’re ensuring classical music remains one of the most celebrated and exciting artforms in the world.”

Mark Ball, Artistic Director at the Southbank Centre, added: “Our Spring/Summer programme underscores our continued commitment to Classical Music, celebrating the genre in all its forms, new and old. From emerging voices to titans of the canon, championing this breadth is how we ensure a rich, vibrant future for the artform at the Southbank Centre, providing audiences with unparalleled experiences, whether that’s from our world-class Resident Orchestras or with ambitious, innovative new formats.” 

Artist Residencies 

Continuing the Southbank Centre’s commitment to supporting exceptional artists, organist James McVinnie joins as a new Resident Artist for Spring/Summer 2024. A true master of variety and virtuosity, his first performance as part of the Royal Festival Hall Organ at 70 weekend features McVinnie performing a mix of Renaissance dances and works by Sweelinck, Pachelbel and Bach (23 Mar, Royal Festival Hall). Later that day, he’ll collaborate with composer and electronic producer Tristan Perich, performing Perich’s Infinity Gradient for organ and 100 speakers (23 Mar, RFH). His residency concludes with McVinnie’s virtuoso keyboard collective, the James McVinnie Ensemble, with a programme of contemporary works by Philip GlassJohn AdamsGabriella Smith and Inti Figgis-Vizueta (29 Jun, Purcell Room).  

Resident Artist Manchester Collective return, collaborating with Scottish pianist Fergus McCreadie (15 Mar, Queen Elizabeth Hall). In a special double-bill event, Manchester Collective will perform with the Fergus McCreadie Trio before moving into the Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer for a late-night cèilidh. Later in the season, the ensemble will perform Morton Feldman’s Rothko Chapel, a sonic meditation for chamber choir, solo viola, celeste and percussion written as a tribute to the abstract artist Mark Rothko shortly after he took his life. The concert includes four premieres from Katherine BalchEdmund FinnisIsabella Summers and Isobel Waller-Bridge, co-commissioned by the Southbank Centre, each inspired by Rothko’s artworks. Renowned for their immersive, visually striking performances, Manchester Collective appear alongside a unique lighting installation (5 May, QEH). The ensemble will also take part in the second instalment of the Southbank Centre and Royal Academy of Music’s artist development scheme, Future Artists, mentoring students from the Academy throughout the year before performing together in a special showcase concert (5 May, PR).

Rising star violinist Randall Goosby continues his residency in the Spring/Summer programme with a performance featuring collaborators from New York including Jeremiah BlacklowJameel Martin and Daniel Hass together as the Renaissance Quartet (4 May, QEH). He also makes an appearance as one of the several Resident Artist-Resident Orchestra joint performances during the season. Under the baton of Gemma New, Goosby performs with Resident Orchestra the London Philharmonic Orchestra for Mozart’s Violin Concerto No.3 in an evening of ill-fated romance which also includes Tchaikovsky’s ‘Fantasy Overture’ from Romeo & Juliet and excerpts from Prokofiev’s take on Shakespeare’s classic (22 Mar, RFH). 

Meanwhile, pianist Alice Sara Ott will join Resident Orchestra the Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Elim Chan, to perform a new piano concerto by Bryce Dessner, jointly commissioned by the Southbank Centre, the Philharmonia Orchestra and several European orchestras, and Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade (15 Feb, RFH). Ott returns later in the summer alongside pianist Francesco Tristano, performing a mix of solo and duo works including new pieces by Tristano (16 May, QEH). 

Patricia Kopatchinskaja performs with Resident Orchestra Aurora Orchestra as part of her 2023/24 Artist Residency (24 Apr, PR). Presenting her ambitious, absurdist Nonsense music-theatre production, works by Cage, Ligeti, Brecht and Kopatchinskaja collide on stage against a backdrop of unsettlingly mundane domesticity. Earlier in the season, she will perform her powerful climate change-inspired production, Dies Irae, produced by the Lucerne Festival and which was presented as part of COP26 (21 Feb, QEH). Featuring a mix of works from the 16th and 17th centuries and contemporary composers, from Heinrich Biber, John Dowland, Antonio Lotti to Jimi Hendrix and George Crumb’s Black Angels, the production makes for a compelling evening combined with Kopatchinskaja’s flair for the theatrical.

Ambitious New Forms & Experiences

Beyond Manchester Collective’s late-night cèilidh and Patricia Kopatchinskaja’s productions, Spring/Summer 2024 includes a wealth of exciting performances that reconsider how, and where, we experience classical music. 

The Norwegian Chamber Orchestra with its Artistic Director Pekka Kuusisto arrives with performances of DSCH featuring music by Shostakovich in a unique music-theatre experience. Working with a team of collaborators from the worlds of set design, costume, lighting design and video projection, and blurring the lines between these different forms, DSCH tells the story of the life and music of one of the greatest composers of the 20th century (29-30 Jun, QEH). Paraorchestra will present Trip The Light Fantastic by composer Sinéad McMillan (AKA Surgeons Girl). Featuring a mix of acoustic, assistive, electronic and traditional orchestral instruments, played by virtuoso disabled and non-disabled musicians, Paraorchestra’s performance is remixed, dubbed, and modulated live. This concert experience will be opened by a new commission from Paraorchestra composer Asteryth SloanePrelude to a Beginning (12 Apr, QEH).

Resident Orchestra Aurora Orchestra will present a new orchestral theatre staging of Hans Zender’s Winterreise – a ‘composed interpretation’ of Schubert’s epic song cycle, scored for tenor and chamber orchestra, including soprano saxophone, guitar and accordion. Allan Clayton stars as tenor soloist as well as making his debut as stage director alongside Jane Mitchell (14 & 16 Mar, QEH). The orchestra also brings its rapturous rendition of Beethoven 3, performed from memory, to the Queen Elizabeth Hall (8 May). BBC Radio 3 presenter Tom Service joins Principal Conductor Nicholas Collon in a first-half presentation, getting under the skin of Beethoven’s revolutionary symphony. 

Uncovering the Canon 

Spring/Summer 2024 also features several in-depth explorations of unfamiliar and unheard repertoire, expanding our understanding and appreciation of classical music.

On Sunday 19 May, the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, with Chief Conductor Kirill Karabits, presents Voices From The East, the culmination and celebration of Karabits’ ground-breaking work with the BSO over 15 years and the start of a new chapter when he becomes Conductor Laureate, Artistic Director, Voices from the East from Autumn 2024. With multiple concerts in the Royal Festival Hall and additional talks and free performances across the Southbank Centre’s public spaces, the day celebrates three different symphonic traditions: the first from Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan, the second from Georgia and Armenia, and the third from Ukraine, featuring work by Thomas de Hartmann, Borys Lyatoshinsky and Anna Korsun.

In an exciting extension of Spring/Summer 2024, the Southbank Centre hosts a five-day festival, Sound Within Sound, inspired by author and broadcaster Kate Molleson’s 2022 book of the same name. Molleson’s book tells the stories of ten figures of the 20th century who altered the course of musical history, only to be sidelined and denied recognition. The festival runs in early July with the full programme to be announced in early 2024. 

Nicholas McCarthy explores left-hand repertoire with a mix of Wagner, Schubert, Scriabin and Bartók. Discussing this unique practice, McCarthy will be joined by journalist, writer and broadcaster Samira Ahmed in a post-concert conversation (23 Mar, QEH).

Staggering Symphonic Works 

Throughout March, the London Philharmonic Orchestra presents The Music in You, a festival that celebrates artistic expression of all kinds. Performances include the world premiere of work by London Philharmonic Orchestra’s new Composer-in-Residence Tania León with a cross-artform reinvention of Szymanowski’s ballet Harnasie in collaboration with choreographer Wayne McGregor, conducted by Principal Conductor Edward Gardner (6 Mar, RFH). The London Philharmonic Orchestra also welcomes Oksana Lyniv who conducts Dvorak’s Symphony No.8 as well as Ukrainian composer Victoria Poleva’s Cello Concerto (9 Feb, RFH). Later, Principal Guest Conductor Karina Canellakis conducts Brahms’s Symphony No.4 (21 Feb, RFH) while Edward Gardner conducts the world premiere of Daniel Kidane’s Violin Concerto (16 March, RFH). Finally, the London Philharmonic Orchestra performs the long-awaited conclusion of Conductor Emeritus Vladimir Jurowski’s Wagner Ring Cycle, which began in 2018, with Götterdämmerung (27 Apr, RFH).

The Philharmonia Orchestra is joined by Bruce Liu and their Principal Conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali for Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2, as well as another twentieth-century masterpiece, Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 10 (7 Apr, RFH). Winner of the Tchaikovsky Competition Grand Prix (a prize awarded only four times in the competition’s six-decade history), Alexandre Kantorow joins the Philharmonia for Franz Liszt’s Piano Concerto No. 2, conducted by Manfred Honeck in his debut with the orchestra (9 May, RFH). Later, violinist Isabelle Faust joins her frequent collaborator, conductor Philippe Herreweghe, performing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in a programme also featuring Brahms’ Symphony No, 4. Finally, Santtu-Matias Rouvali returns with Elgar’s Enigma Variations (6 Jun, RFH).

Resident Orchestra, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, meanwhile, performs its three-part Mendelssohn Cycle featuring his symphonies, piano concerti and violin concerto, with director Sir András Schiff on the fortepiano, guest violinist Alina Ibragimova and Lucy Crowe (soprano) and Nicky Spence (tenor) with the Choir of the Age of Enlightenment (24-26 Apr, QEH). Earlier in the season, Maxim Emelyanychev conducts the OAE in a programme crowned by Sibelius’ awe-inspiring Symphony No.5. Resident Orchestra Chineke! Orchestra features throughout including a performance of Coleridge-Taylor’s Symphony in A Minor and Saint-Saens’ Symphony No.3 with William Campbell making his solo debut on the Royal Festival Hall organ (2 Feb, RFH). 

Regular visitors to the Southbank Centre, the BBC Concert Orchestra performs with newly appointed Chief Conductor Anna-Maria Helsing, featuring the world premiere of the BBC commission of Dominique Le Gendre’s Concerto for Orchestra (17 Mar, QEH), while the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra perform Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.3 and Elgar’s Symphony No.2 with guest pianist Yunchan Lim (27 Mar, RFH).

Captivating Sounds in the Contemporary Edit

The Contemporary Edit celebrates unheard works, leftfield pioneers and new voices, placing them at the heart of the Southbank Centre’s Classical Music programme. 

From the Resident Orchestras, the Philharmonia Orchestra collaborates with soprano Julia Bullock’s History’s Persistent Voice project for a special concert featuring European premieres from Jessie MontgomeryAllison Loggins-Hull and Tania León (2 Feb, QEH). The London Sinfonietta performs Sky Macklay’s whistle-stop, microtonal tour of 19th Century European orchestras, MicrovariationsGeorge Lewis’ lively Tales of the Traveller and the UK premiere of the ensemble’s co-commission of Michel van der Aa’s Shades of Red (22 Feb PR). 

The Contemporary Edit also features a special collaboration with independent contemporary classical label nonclassical, marking the label’s 20th anniversary since its founding in 2004 by Gabriel Prokofiev, grandson of Sergei Prokofiev. The takeover is conceived and performed by Simon Knighton, current nonclassical’s artist-in-residence, and features a series of sound sculptures exploring how acoustic and electronically-generated sounds interact (4 May, PR). 

Championing the work of individual artists working today, the Contemporary Edit includes a solo recital for horn by Ben Goldscheider with Phil Dawson on electronics including works specifically written for Goldscheider by Alex GrovesMark Simpson and Zoe Martlew (27 Jun, PR). There is also a special album launch event for Héloïse Werner’s close-ups on Delphian Records, featuring special guests Max BaillieJulian AzkoulRuth GibsonColin AlexanderMarianne Schofield and Kit Downes (28 Jun, PR). The BBC Concert Orchestra, meanwhile, returns with Unclassified Live hosted by broadcaster Elizabeth Alker with performances from alternative indie band This Is The Kit, poet Moor Mother and Modern Nature, who blur the lines of folk music and improvisation (1 May, QEH).

Captivating Keyboard & Chamber Recitals

The Royal Festival Hall Organ at 70 events celebrate the inauguration of the 7,866 pipes of the Royal Festival Hall organ in 1954, which range in size from smaller than a baby’s little finger to a spectacular 32 feet. Over the course of a weekend, in addition to the concerts featuring James McVinnie (23 and 24 Mar, RFH), Iveta Alpkana performs a programme of Bach, Pierné and Liszt on the exact date of the organ’s very first concert seventy years on (24 Mar, RFH). The weekend also includes opportunities for families and young people to discover and experience the Royal Festival Hall organ. Later, rising star Katelyn Emerson closes out Organ at 70 with a whirlwind tour of organ repertoire including Mozart and Dupré. (28 Jun, RFH). 

Beyond recitals by Alice Sara OttJames McVinnie and Iveta Alpkana, keyboard music enthusiasts will be delighted by the return of superstar pianist Yuja Wang to the Royal Festival Hall following a sell-out performance during Autumn/Winter 2022/23 (7 Jun, RFH). In the Queen Elizabeth Hall: Marc-Andre Hamelin performs Beethoven, Medtner, and Godowsky (23 Feb, QEH) while Ukrainian pianist Vadim Kholodenko performs Rzewski’s anthemic The People United Will Never Be Defeated! (14 Apr, QEH). 

In addition to chamber music performances from Resident Artists Patricia Kopatchinskaja and Randall Goosby, the Colin Currie Group performs as part of the Spring/Summer 2024 (28 Mar, QEH). Featuring ensemble classics, Reich’s Music for Pieces of Wood and Drumming Part 1, the evening features the UK premiere of a new percussion sextet by Mark-Anthony Turnage, New England Etudes. For strings, The Brodsky Quartet, who celebrated 50 years together in 2023, perform repertoire including Schubert’s Death and the Maiden and a quartet arrangement of Bach’s Solo Violin Sonata in G minor (13 Apr, QEH) while the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Featured Artist, Nicola Benedetti, joins the Philharmonia Chamber Players for an evening of Tchaikovsky and Schoenberg (26 May, QEH). 

Fascinating Family Programme

Offering a wealth of ways to experience classical music, the family programme at the Southbank Centre, in collaboration with its Resident Orchestras, aims to foster the next generation of music-lovers through informative and engaging experiences. The London Philharmonic Orchestra hosts two editions of its FUNharmonics concerts: audiences can don their favourite football shirt for the European premiere of É Gol! by Brazilian-American composer Clarice Assad, imagining a day in the life of legendary Brazilian footballer Marta Vieira da Silva (3 Mar, RFH), while presenter Rachel Leach hosts a performance of Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring (5 May, RFH). The Multi-Story Orchestra, meanwhile, returns with its interactive Living Programme Notes performance where musicians spread across the foyer and the audience is free to explore and get involved (13 Apr, QEHF). Meanwhile, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment will also be present during both days with their OAE Tots programme, providing a fully immersive and engaging day out for young families. 


Aurora Orchestra

Aurora Orchestra returns with more concerts in Classical Music 2024/25.

Chineke! Orchestra

Chineke! Orchestra returns with the rarely performed, extraordinary Requiem by 18th-century Brazilian composer José María Nunes Garcia, a descendant of slaves who became one of the most prolific classical composers in the Americas (3 May, QEH).

London Philharmonic Orchestra

Other concerts include Dima Slobodeniouk conducting R Strauss’ Burleske with pianist Martin Helmchen (20 Mar, RFH) and Leila Josefowicz performs Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto with Paavo Järvi, which is paired with Bruckner’s Symphony No. 7 (4 Apr, RFH), Edward Gardner returns in April with two concerts, the first opens with Wagner’s Prelude from Parsifal, and closes with Tippett’s Symphony No. 2, a composer Gardner has become known for championing. Seong-Jin Cho is the soloist in Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No. 4 (10 Apr, RFH). Gardner’s second concert includes Holst’s infamous piece The Planets and Nicolas Altstaedt performing Dvořák’s Cello Concerto (12 Apr, RFH). 

London Sinfonietta

London Sinfonietta returns with more concerts in Classical Music 2024/25.

Philharmonia Orchestra

Other concerts include Principal Conductor Santtu-Matias Rouvali and Featured Artist Julia Bullock in a lush Romantic programme of Berlioz’s Les nuits d’été and Mahler’s Symphony No. 4 (1 Feb, RFH). Santtu-Matias Rouvali will conduct Frank Dupree in a colourful programme including Kapustin’s jazz-infused Piano Concerto No. 5 (7 Mar, RFH). The Philharmonia’s Featured Artist Nicola Benedetti returns for Bruch’s rhapsodic Scottish Fantasy, conducted by Pablo Heras-Casado (14 Mar, RFH). Brothers Lucas Jussen and Arthur Jussen join the Philharmonia for Mozart’s Concerto for Two Pianos, K. 365, conducted by Eun Sun Kim. Her concert also features Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5, and Texu Kim’s (no relation) Spin-Flip, based on the sounds of a table tennis match (21 Mar, RFH).

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment welcomes soprano Louise Alder and conductor Riccardo Minasi for a sparkling celebration of the genius of Mozart’s socially-charged operas Cosi fan tutte and The Marriage of Figaro (22 Feb, QEH). In Holy Week, the OAE continues its multi-year pilgrimage of JS Bach’s great seasonal sacred works with the Easter Oratorio directed by Olivier Award-winning conductor Peter Whelan  (27 Mar, QEH). The concert will feature three of the OAE’s new cohort of Rising Stars of the Enlightenment as soloists – Madison Nonoa (soprano), Rebecca Leggett (mezzo-soprano) and Malachy Frame (baritone) – along with tenor Ruairi Bowen.