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Barbican announces details of its music programme for February - July 2023

Photo of multicoloured seats in the Barbican Hall
  • First UK performance in over 20 years by New York’s The Met Orchestra, conducted by Yannick Nézet-Séguin
  • L’Orchestre de l’Opéra national de Paris makes its UK debut conducted by Gustavo Dudamel
  • Sir Simon Rattle conducts a ‘desert island’ selection of personal favourites in his final concerts as Music Director of London Symphony Orchestra
  • Breaking through religious, cultural, and musical barriers, Jerusalem Orchestra East West in its first UK concert
  • Best-selling author Ian McEwan joins the BBC Symphony Orchestra for special one-off event
  • Barbican Artist Spotlight on the convention breaking Moldovan violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja
  • In a belated 60th birthday bash, world renowned trumpeter Wynton Marsalis returns to raise the Barbican roof with the world’s greatest big band, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra
  • 100 years after its first performance, Britten Sinfonia recreates Delius’ rarely heard incidental music to West End one-hit-wonder, Hassan.
  • Academy of Ancient Music performs spectacular Handel oratorio The Triumph of Time and Disillusionment
  • Will Gregory (Goldfrapp) and Adrian Utley (Portishead) perform their acclaimed score to a screening of Paul Wright’s BAFTA-winning Arcadia 
  • Nonclassical brings the hidden skeleton of the Barbican to life with triangles made from concrete reinforcing rods (rebar)

Today (21 Sep) the Barbican announces a spring of ambitious, enquiring, and joyful music-making, from symphonic masterpieces to folk royalty, sublime soloists to experimental collaborations, where stories are told, ideas explored and moments in history marked. A season in which, alongside world leading musicians, we hear new voices, new commissions and even new instruments including, in a nod to the very fabric of the Barbican, triangles fashioned from rebar (steel rods used in concrete construction).

With more than 120,000 tickets on sale, public booking opens on Fri 30 September, with advance priority booking for Barbican Patrons from Thu 22 September and Barbican Members from Wed 28 September. More details here.

Newly announced contemporary music events join shows already on sale, including Lucinda Williams (21 Jan), Aldous Harding (28 & 29 Apr), Novo Amor (30 Apr) and Music from Summerisle (24 June), with further gigs to be announced over the autumn.


Huw Humphreys, Barbican’s Head of Music says: 

“At the Barbican, there is just one kind of music. Great music. Our ambitious, broad-lensed approach gives Barbican audiences the chance to see musicians and music in a different light. It frees musicians to think a little differently, encourages stories to be told in fresh ways, whether through commissions, collaboration or a collision of art forms and technology, and brings exceptional new voices into the spotlight. 

It’s an imaginative approach shared by the Barbican’s world-leading resident and associate orchestras and ensembles: Resident Orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra; Associate Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra; Associate Ensembles, the Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia, and Associate Producer, Serious.  Their excellence and thirst for musical enquiry stand at the heart of music at the Barbican and, together, we look forward to welcoming audiences old and new next spring.”


Further detail about Barbican Spring Music Season highlights, including the Spring Season of Barbican Resident and Associates, follow below.


Barbican Spring 2023 Music Highlights

  • Gustavo Dudamel conducts his first UK concert as Music Director of L’Orchestre de l'Opéra national de Paris who make their UK debut with music by Messiaen, Haydn, Ravel and Richard Strauss. (22 Apr).


  • Yannick Nézet-Séguin directs New York’s The Met Orchestra in its first UK appearance in over 20 years, with a stellar trio of soloists - Joyce DiDonato, Renée Fleming and Russell Thomas - in evocative music with a Shakespearean flavour (29 Jun).


  • Sir Simon Rattle in his final concerts as Music Director of the London Symphony Orchestra [LSO] before assuming the role of Conductor Emeritus, conducts some of his personal favourites and the world premiere of a new work by 96-year-old composer Betsy Jolas. (14 & 15 June).



  • Barbican Artist Spotlight showcases the convention-breaking Moldovan violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja. As well as a masterclass at Guildhall School of Music & Drama (15 Feb) and a recital, with pianist Joonas Ahonen (17 Feb), she joins the LSO for a performance of Ligeti’s complex Violin Concerto (16 Feb) and explores the image of women - from saints to sinners - across 900 years of music, in a musical mosaic devised with singer Anna Prohaska. (16 Apr).


  • Incorporating musicians drawn from all three religions and all sections of Israeli society, Jerusalem Orchestra East West plays music that ‘melts’ musical methods from the East and West. For its UK debut, the orchestra combines the high-energy musical style of North African Berber tribes with arrangements in the orchestra’s own distinctive musical language. (5 Feb).


  • Ian McEwan, best-selling author of Atonement, On Chesil Beach and Enduring Love, joins BBC Symphony Orchestra in a one-off event weaving readings from his own work with music that resonates with his words. (31 Mar).


  • Pulitzer Prize and nine-time Grammy-winning trumpeter and composer Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra return to their London home from home. The Barbican’s International Associate Ensemble plays songs hand-picked by Marsalis, from his own compositions to the work that has influenced him. (9 Jul).


  • Grammy-nominated composer, producer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and vocalist Devonté Hynes (aka Blood Orange) in a one-off collaboration with the LSO, performs a selection of his orchestral works, as well as solo piano pieces and a piano duet with pianist Adam Tendler. (19 Mar).


  • Multi-award-winning folk innovator Eliza Carthy celebrates the release of her new album Queen of the Whirl, three decades on from her first recordings, in the company of her touring band The Restitution and very special guests. This one-off performance will be a combined family celebration of her father, Martin Carthy’s 80th birthday, and a tribute to her beloved mum, the legendary Norma Waterson, who sadly died earlier this year. (4 Feb).


  • French orchestra, Les Siécles, makes its Barbican debut conducted by François-Xavier Roth in a programme of evocative 19th & 20th century French music (20 June).


  • Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla conducts City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra in her first London concert as Principal Guest Conductor, including Vilde Frang in Elgar’s Violin Concerto (16 Mar).



  • In the 70th anniversary year of the first documented ascent of Everest, BBC Symphony Orchestra [BBC SO] gives the UK premiere of Joby Talbot’s opera EVEREST based on the 1996 mountaineering disaster in which eight climbers died when a sudden storm engulfed the summit of Mount Everest (23 June). 


  • Britten Sinfonia revisits notable British music premieres from 1953, including works by Maconchy, Walton and Tippett (24 May).


  • In poet Carol Ann Duffy’s 1999 collection, The World’s Wife, the women behind the great men of history and legend set the record straight. Composer Tom Green’s opera of the same name, with libretto by Duffy, references neglected work by female composers. The Ragazze Quartet is joined by transgender opera singer, baritone Lucia Lucas for this staged performance. (2 May, with livestream).


  • LSO features in the first ever screening with a live orchestra of Arthur Bliss’s score to HG Wells/Alexander Korda’s 1936 science fiction film Things to Come. (26 Mar).


  • In a powerful blend of folk, classical, electronica and archive recordings, Adrian Utley (Portishead), Will Gregory (Goldfrapp) and a nine-piece band perform their acclaimed score to a live screening of Paul Wright’s BAFTA award-winning Arcadia, which draws on 100 years of archive footage to capture the magic and madness of rural Britain (4 Mar).


  • Soprano Nadine Benjamin is joined by Michael Harper (narrator) and Elizabeth de Brito (co-curator) on an uplifting journey through rarely heard historical and contemporary songs from America, Britain, the Caribbean and Europe, celebrating the richness and joy of black and mixed race stories and experiences (21 Feb).


  • Tenor Stuart Skelton joins BBC SO as the eponymous hero in Iain Bell’s retelling of the Old English epic, Beowulf (world premiere - (17 Mar). 


  • BBC Singers perform Rachmaninov’s Vespers interwoven with music from different African traditions around the theme of evening and dusk with cellist Abel Selaocoe (19 May).



  • BBC SO premieres six works. Highlights include the UK premieres of two works by Kaija Saariaho - Saarikoski Songs, with soprano Anu Komsi, and Reconnaissance, with the BBC Singers - as part of a Total Immersion day exploring the music of the Finnish composer, led by her compatriot, BBC SO Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo. (6 May).


  • The LSO and pianist Yuja Wang give the UK premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No. 3. (25 May) with further LSO premieres including the world premiere of orchestral works by Colin Matthews and Jonathan Woolgar (28 May) and Betsy Jolas (14 & 15 Jun).


  • Britten Sinfonia premieres a newly commissioned work and eye-opening Vivaldi arrangement by Egyptian/Australian oud player and composer Joseph Tawadros (10 Feb) as well as new music by Joseph Phibbs (24 May) and young Dutch composer Mathilde Wantenaar (14 Apr).


  • Triangles made from rebar (steel rods used in concrete construction), weather-driven bells and harps, and pianos prepared with single use plastic waste take root amongst the 1,500 species of plants in the Barbican Conservatory in a new performance installation by Nonclassical reflecting on the climate crisis (12 Mar).


  • Ukrainian pianist Lubomyr Melnyk is joined by cellist Julia Kent and vocal group Shards for The End of the World, an immersive experience combining natural sound elements, electronics and live audio-visual interaction (11 Feb).


  • Pan-European orchestral collective s t a r g a z e, conducted by André de Ridder, comes together with electro-musician Carsten Nicolai aka Alva Noto for a live instrumental performance combining music from Alva Noto’s Xerrox series with video and light installations (26 Apr).


  • Young artists make their mark in the ECHO Rising Stars series, with debut concerts by percussionist Vanessa Porter (16 Feb) the Cristina Gómez Godoy Trio (10 Mar) and the Aris Quartett (7 Apr).


  • Following its first ever performance at the Barbican earlier this year, a new cohort of musicians has now joined the UK’s only disabled-led orchestra, the National Open Youth Orchestra (NOYO), with the Barbican and NOYO continuing to collaborate this coming season.



  • Laurence Cummings directs Academy of Ancient Music [AAM] and soloists including Sophie Juncker and Anna Dennis in Handel’s allegorical exploration of mortality: The Triumph of Time and Disillusionment (11 May).


  • The English Concert directed by Harry Bicket reconstructs Handel’s historic 1749 benefit concert for London’s Foundling Hospital, the UK’s first children’s charity, of which Handel and Hogarth were supporters (28 Feb).


  • Arcangelo performs Handel’s Theodora, with Louise Alder in the title role (29 Mar).


  • AAM performs JS Bach’s intellectual, technical and emotional tour de force, The Musical Offering BWV1079, written for King Frederick the Great of Prussia (3 Feb).



  • Virtuoso sitarist Roopa Panesar, a leading light of the UK’s Indian classical music scene, performs new music from her upcoming album ATMA (which translates as ‘the soul’) in collaboration with some of the UK’s finest Indian classical and jazz musicians (18 Feb).


  • Hindustani classical vocalist Kaushiki Chakraborty gives a performance of her astonishing khayal vocal technique and opulent, inventive style (1 Apr).


Barbican Resident and Associates Spring 2023 season highlights


Spring 23 sees the final concerts of Sir Simon Rattle’s tenure as the LSO’s Music Director, celebrating with personal favourites, John Adams Harmonielehre, Debussy’s La Mer, Ravel’s Daphis and Chloé Suite and for his final two Barbican concerts in June he conducts a new commission by Betsy Jolas, and Messaien’s Turangalîla-Symphonie.

The LSO’s family of conductors Barbara Hannigan, Sir Antonio Pappano, Gianandrea Noseda, François-Xavier Roth and Michael Tilson Thomas conduct a wide-ranging repertoire, joined by Guest conductors Xian Zhang, Marin Alsop and Rafael Payere.

Barbara Hannigan, in her second residency as LSO Associate Artist, explores a programme of Bach arr Berio Contrapunctus XIX, Berg’s Violin Concerto with Veronica Eberle, Haydn’s Symphony 44 Trauer and Claude Vivier’s long song of solitude Lonely Child and a double-bill of Messaien’s L’ascension and Mahler’s Symphony No 4.

Sir Antonio Pappano returns in February with a concert which comprises Coleridge-Taylor’s Ballade in A Minor, and two symphonic poems Liszt’s Die Ideale and Strauss Ein Heldenleben.

Gianandrea Noseda conducts Prokofiev’s Symphony No 3 Op 44, alongside Beethoven’s Violin Concerto Op 61 and a concert that pairs Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No 5 Op 73 with Shostakovich Symphony No 13 Op 113.

Guest soloists include leading violinists Lisa Batiashvili, Veronica Eberle, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, and Christian Tetzlaff, soprano Aphrodite Patoulidou, pianists Sunwook Kim, Simon Trpčeski and Yuja Wang. LSO Principal oboist Olivier Stankiewicz is guest soloist for Zimmerman’s Oboe Concerto LSO and Principal trumpet James Fountain for Hummels’ Trumpet Concerto.

New work features in the early summer months with François-Xavier Roth conducting the world premiere of Magnus Lindberg’s Piano Concerto No 3, with Yuja Wang and the LSO Futures concert with a programme of Cassie Kinochi’s Six Fanfares, and first performances of Jonathan Woolgar’s Symphonic Preludes ‘Wach Auf’, and Colin Matthews’



Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo leads the BBC Symphony Orchestra and guests in a day-long Total Immersion celebration of the music of his Finnish compatriot, composer Kaija Saariaho, including performances from the BBC Singers and Guildhall School Musicians and an evening concert featuring soprano Anu Komsi in the UK premiere of Saariaho’s Saarikoski Songs (6 May).

Oramo also showcases the music of Polish composer Grażyna Bacewicz in three concerts featuring her Overture for Symphony Orchestra, Concerto for Large Orchestra  and Symphony No. 4 (3 Feb  & 10 Feb & 15 Apr).

An all-American programme conducted by Gemma New includes the UK premiere of Valerie Coleman’s Umoja (Anthem of Unity) alongside Gershwin’s Piano Concerto in F major, with soloist Lise de la Salle.(24 Feb)

Violinist Baiba Skride is the soloist for the world premiere of Victoria Borisova-Ollas's BBC-commissioned retelling of the story of Swan Lake (3 Mar) and Martyn Brabbins conducts the BBC commission and world premiere of Iain Bell’s retelling of the Old English epic poem Beowulf, for which the BBC SO is joined by tenor Stuart Skelton and the BBC Symphony Chorus  (17 Mar). The Chorus also joins the orchestra for Michael Tippett’s powerful A Child of Our Time, conducted by Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis and with soloists including Pumeza Matshikiza and Dame Sarah Connolly (12 May).

Ian McEwan, one of the most admired storytellers of our time, joins the BBC SO to read from his own works, with music curated around his readings (31 Mar), and the season comes to a close with the UK premiere of Joby Talbot’s opera Everest, based on the 1996 mountain disaster in which eight climbers died, conducted by Nicole Paiement (23 June). 



Academy of Ancient Music’s year-long exploration of the environment and our place within it,‘Tis nature’s Voice, continues in February with a performance of JS Bach's Musical Offering, a collection of pieces designed to put the nature of music itself to the ultimate technical test (3 Feb). The following month, AAM takes Purcell’s Ode to Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music, as the starting point for a musical journey through the whole of creation (9 Mar). Later in the season, Bojan Čičić opens the baroque era’s musical jokebook for an evening of novelties and flights of fancy, exploring the notion that humanity is part of nature too, and never more so than when we’re transforming the world around us into music (21 Apr), and AAM Music Director, Laurence Cummings rediscovers the eternal truths of Handel’s spectacular oratorio, The Triumph of Time and Disillusionment, with vocalists Sophie Junker, Anna Dennis, Reginald Mobley and Nick Pritchard (11 May). 

Laurence Cummings brings the season to a spectacular close, taking AAM on a rare adventure into the nineteenth century presenting the teenage Mendelssohn’s exuberant Violin Concerto, and relishing Beethoven's most personal expression of nature: his Symphony No.6 (30 Jun).



Britten Sinfonia brings a Delius rarity to the Barbican, recreating the composer’s colourful incidental music for James Elroy Flecker’s hit play Hassan. Posthumously staged in the West End in 1923, both play – and music – subsequently faded from view. Delius’s music is coupled with a new commission from Australian/Egyptian oud player and composer Joseph Tawadros and unusually, Vivaldi arranged for oud and strings. (10 Feb). 

1953, the year of the late Queen Elizabeth II’s Coronation and the scaling of Everest, also featured several notable premieres by British composers. Britten Sinfonia steps back to this illustrious year, performing Elizabeth Maconchy’s Symphony for Double String Orchestra, Tippett’s Fantasia Concertante on a theme of Corelli and the finale from Walton’s Variations on an Elizabethan Theme, alongside a new work by Joseph Phibbs. (24 May).

Jacqueline Shave directs a Good Friday performance of JS Bach’s St John Passion, with the orchestra joined by the Choir of Merton College, Oxford (7 Apr). 

Dutch-Russian pianist Daria van den Bercken performs Bach’s Brandenburg Concerto no.5 in a programme that also includes a new work by Mathilde Waantenar. Thomas Gould directs. (14 Apr).