Barbican Presents Classical Music Highlights Spring-Summer 2018

A picture of Laurence Equilbey conducting

Barbican Presents is the Centre’s own-curated classical music season featuring the very best international ensembles and artists. Please see below for more details. 

International Orchestras and Ensembles:

Baroque and Early Music:

  • Baritone Christopher Purves sings Handel, accompanied by the ensemble Arcangelo (7 January 2018, Milton Court)
  • A half-day exploration entitled François Couperin: lumière et ombre, celebrating the 350th anniversary of the composer’s birth, with Les Talens Lyriques (14 January 2018, Milton Court
  • Countertenor Iestyn Davies performs in Handel’s Rinaldo with The English Concert (13 March 2018, Barbican Hall) and returns in May 2018 alongside viol consort Fretwork (28 May 2018, Milton Court
  • A visit from the Venice Baroque Orchestra, joining celebrated counter-tenor Franco Fagioli (4 June 2018, Barbican Hall)
  • A celebration of 18th century English song with singers from Le Jardin des Voix under the direction of Paul Agnew (8 June 2018, Barbican Hall)
  • A Bach Weekend curated by Sir John Eliot Gardiner to celebrate his 75th birthday, including a three-concert cycle of cantatas performed by the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists (15–17 June 2018, various venues)

The Art of Change:

At a time of significant national and international uncertainty, the Barbican’s 2018 season The Art of Change explores how the arts respond to, reflect and potentially effect change in the social and political landscape. Music events include:

  • Sir Simon Rattle conducting the London Symphony Orchestra in a production of Genesis Suite devised and presented by creative director Gerard McBurney, with visuals by award-winning projection designer Mike Tutaj (13 January 2018, Barbican Hall
  • The UK premiere of Jake Heggie’s opera Dead Man Walking featuring Joyce DiDonato as Sister Helen Prejean (20 February 2018, Barbican Hall)
  • Dynamo percussionist Joby Burgess and his sound and video trio Powerplant perform works by Will Gregory, Graham Fitkin, Linda Buckley as well as Nicole Lizée’s work The Filthy Fifteen, inspired by fifteen songs deemed too explicit by the committee of the Parents Music Resource Center in 1985 (1 May 2018, Milton Court)
  • The Los Angeles Philharmonic and Gustavo Dudamel perform the European premiere of American composer Ted Hearne’s Place, as part of their 2018 International Residency (3 May, 2018, Barbican Hall)


  • Behzod Abduraimov makes his Barbican debut with Liszt’s Sonata in B minor alongside Liszt’s Wagnerian transcription Isolde’s Liebestod, and Prokofiev’s Ten Pieces from Romeo and Juliet, Op 75 (18 January 2018, Barbican Hall)
  • Jeremy Denk continues his Milton Court Residency, performing Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue with Barbican Associate Ensemble Britten Sinfonia (27 February 2018, Milton Court) and a solo recital (3 March 2018, Milton Court)
  • Pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and scholar Roger Nichols mark the 100th anniversary of Claude Debussy’s death with a day of his piano music exploring the composer’s poetic and pianistic imagination (25 March 2018, Milton Court)
  • Evgeny Kissin performs a recital that includes a selection of Preludes by Rachmaninov and Beethoven’s colossal Sonata no. 29, the Hammerklavier (29 March 2018, Barbican Hall)
  • Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski performs Beethoven’s Diabelli Variations, a piece with which Anderszewski has a long relationship (11 April 2018, Barbican Hall)
  • American pianists Timo Andres and David Kaplan perform Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances and Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (27 April 2018, Milton Court)
  • Pianist Yuja Wang demonstrates her extraordinary virtuosity in a programme to be announced (5 June 2018, Barbican Hall)
  • Much-loved pianist Murray Perahia returns to the Barbican for a recital (21 June 2018, Barbican Hall)

String players and chamber music:

  • Mischa Maisky and Martha Argerich are joined by Janine Jansen to perform Shostakovich’s Piano Trio no 2 and Tchaikovsky’s Trio in A minor (6 February 2018, Barbican Hall
  • One of the rising stars of Indian classical music, sitar maestro Niladri Kumar is accompanied by tabla and jori player Sukhwinder Singh for an evening celebrating the traditional raga style, presented by Darbar in partnership with the Barbican (13 March 2018, Milton Court)
  • Grammy award winner Maxim Vengerov visits the Barbican to perform all three of Brahms’ violin sonatas (16 April 2018, Barbican Hall)


  • Jonas Kaufmann is welcomed back to the Barbican stage with Diana Damrau to perform Wolf’s Italianisches Liederbuch (16 February 2018, Barbican Hall)
  • JUST ANNOUNCED: Jonas Kaufmann will be in conversation and working with young singers from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (17 May 2018, Milton Court - rescheduled from February 2017)
  • Jonas Kaufmann returns for a second time this season to sing a selection of songs by Richard Strauss, including the composer’s monumental Four Last Songs, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under Jochen Rieder (19 May 2018, Barbican Hall)
  • Iestyn Davies performs Purcell and Michael Nyman alongside viol consort Fretwork (28 May 2018, Milton Court), following his performance in Handel’s Rinaldo with The English Concert (13 March 2018, Barbican Hall)

Jeremy Denk – Milton Court Artist-in-Residence:

  • Following two successful concerts in October 2017, Denk returns with the Barbican Associate Ensemble Britten Sinfonia to perform the original jazz band version of Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue and Stravinsky’s Concerto for Piano and Winds (27 February 2018, Milton Court)
  • His residency concludes with a final recital of virtuoso repertoire, including Schumann’s great Fantasie in C and Prokofiev’s Visions fugitives (3 March 2018, Milton Court)

Cross-arts events:

  • Bernstein Revealed: A Cabaret - journalist Edward Seckerson and Tony Award-nominated arranger, composer and musical director Jason Carr, are joined by Olivier Award nominee Sophie-Louise Dann to explore the life and music of the extraordinary musician, as part of the Barbican’s season-long celebration of Leonard Bernstein’s centenary (28 January 2018, LSO St Luke’s)
  • Goldberg Variations: Ternary patterns for insomnia – the Scottish Ensemble and Andersson Dance present Bach’s Goldberg Variations in a striking new format with choreography by Örjan Andersson (5- 7 July 2018, Barbican Theatre)

ECHO Rising Stars at LSO St Luke’s

  • Percussionist Christoph Sietzen (nominated by Philharmonie Luxembourg), 5 January 2018
  • Violist Ellen Nisbeth (nominated by Stockholm’s Konserthus), 19 January 2018
  • Trumpeter Tamás Pálfalvi (nominated by Müpa Budapest), 4 May 2018
  • Violinist Emmanuel Tjeknavorian (nominated by Wiener Konzerthaus & Musikverein Wien), 6 July 2018
  • Soprano Nora Fischer (nominated by Het Concertgebouw Amsterdam), 20 July 2018