Barbican announces its music programme for September 2023 – January 2024
Today (22 March) the Barbican announces its autumn and winter season of energetic, adventurous, and eclectic music-making. This new season encompasses symphonic magnitude, choral splendour, sublime soloists and avant-garde collaborations in a fusion of genres, performers, and instruments. Artists from around the world will perform works celebrating music in all its forms at the Barbican - from Clara Schumann to Caroline Shaw, from classical to techno, from 1523 to 2023.
The Barbican’s world-leading resident orchestra, the London Symphony Orchestra, and associate orchestras and ensembles – the BBC Symphony Orchestra (Associate Orchestra), Academy of Ancient Music and Britten Sinfonia (Associate Ensembles) and Serious (Associate Producer) – form a significant part of this season, sharing the Barbican’s vision to promote joyful, unexpected, and daring artistry with programmes incorporating rising stars and legends alike.
Will Gompertz, Artistic Director says:
“The breadth and quality of the season we’re announcing today represents our wholehearted commitment to music, musicians, and ensembles. Many artists and organisations have experienced great challenges over the past few years – whether through Covid-19 closures or, more recently, through devastating funding cuts across the industry. This season spotlights some of those incredible artists in a programme that celebrates historic female composers, champions magnificent orchestras and platforms enlivening new talent. Through their artistry, we explore urgent topics and invite different perspectives and, with that vital purpose at the heart of our programme, we have a very special season ahead of us.”
- Bayerisches Staatsorchester with a 500th anniversary year season-opener double-bill of Strauss’ majestic An Alpine Symphony and Mahler’s enchanting Symphony No 4 led by Vladimir Jurowski
- Clarinettist Anthony McGill, the first African-American principal player of the New York Philharmonic, embarks on his tenure as Milton Court Artist-in-Residence, including the European premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis’s You Have the Right to Remain Silent
- Laurence Equilbey and her Insula Orchestra and Accentus Chorus collaborate with artist Mat Collishaw to present a multimedia performance of Fauré’s Requiem
- San Francisco string ensemble Kronos Quartet mark their 50th anniversary
- Pianist Beatrice Rana makes her Barbican recital debut with Liszt’s monumental Sonata in B Minor
- London Symphony Orchestra’s 22 concerts feature conductors Barbara Hannigan, Sir Antonio Pappano, André J Thomas, Duncan Ward, Susanna Mälkki, Gianandrea Noseda, and Sir Simon Rattle.
- GRAMMY Award winning US vocal group Roomful of Teeth return to the Barbican for the first time since 2018’s Sounds and Visions festival
- Soprano Natalie Dessay brings her new project: Women’s Words with the music of Alma Mahler, Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn, and Clara Schumann at its heart
- Violinist Johan Dalene joins Sakari Oramo and the BBC Symphony Orchestra for the world premiere of Tebogo Monnakgotla’s Globe Skimmer Surfing the Somali Jet (Violin Concerto)
- Violinist Fenella Humphreys and writer Leah Broad present Quartet and the music of the four trailblazing women featured in Broad’s acclaimed book of the same title
- Darbar Festival returns for a long weekend of mindful, magnificent Indian classical music
- Soprano Nardus Williams joins director Fabio Bondi and period instrument orchestra Europa Galante
- French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet performs Debussy’s magical Préludes in full
- Britten Sinfonia gives a rare performance of Mozart's re-orchestration of Handel's Messiah and joins soprano Elizabeth Watts for Finzi’s Dies Natalis and a new song cycle by Richard Blackford, setting texts by young Afghan writer Nadia Anjuman
- The Academy of Ancient Music launches its 50th anniversary season with Handel’s Music for the Royal Fireworks, an iconic work that has been a mainstay of the orchestra's repertoire since its inception
- Musician and producer Matthew Herbert and the London Contemporary Orchestra journey into the origins of music in The Horse
- EFG London Jazz Festival returns for its 31st year of cutting-edge music from some of the world’s most exciting artists to be announced
Public booking opens on Fri 31 March, with advance priority booking for Principal and Premier Patrons from Thu 23 March, to Barbican Patrons from Mon 27 March, Barbican Members Plus from Wed 29 March, Barbican Members Thu 30 March. More detailed event listings and tickets here.
These concerts in the Barbican’s music programme join events already on sale including techno icon Jeff Mills’ project Tomorrow Comes The Harvest (8 Sep), composer and producer Matthew Herbert’s The Horse (14 Oct), Kronos Quartet’s 50th Anniversary (21 Oct), and This Is The Kit’s return to the Barbican Hall (25 Nov) - with more shows in the Barbican’s contemporary music programme being announced on a weekly basis.
FURTHER DETAILS ABOUT BARBICAN AUTUMN/WINTER MUSIC SEASON HIGHLIGHTS, INCLUDING BARBICAN RESIDENT ORCHESTRA AND ASSOCIATE ENSEMBLES, FOLLOW BELOW.
Barbican music programme Sep 23 – Jan 24 full details:
GUEST ORCHESTRAS AND ENSEMBLES
- The orchestra of Munich’s celebrated Bayerische Staatsoper, the Bayerisches Staatsorchester, celebrates its 500th anniversary year with two spellbinding programmes of epic works conducted by Vladimir Jurowski. The first with Richard Strauss’s An Alpine Symphony and violinist Vilde Frang performing Berg’s Violin Concerto (18 Sep 2023, Hall), and the second with Gustav Mahler’s mighty Symphony No 4, the Prelude from Wagner’s Bayerische Staatsoper-commissioned Tristan and Isolde and pianist Yefim Bronfman performing Robert Schumann’s Piano Concerto. (19 Sep 2023, Hall)
- Winner of the 2022 International Opera Awards Rising Talent award and following a performance in Errollyn Wallen’s Dido’s Ghost in 2021 at the Barbican, soprano Nardus Williams joins director Fabio Bondi and his period instrument ensemble Europa Galante in a programme interspersing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons with arias by Handel and Purcell. (12 Oct 2023, Milton Court)
- Insula Orchestra, conductor Laurence Equilbey and Accentus Chorus return with Sky Burial as artist Mat Collishaw’s mesmerising projections accompany the sacred music of Fauré’s Requiem and Gounod’s Saint François d’Assise (20 Nov 2023, Hall)
- The National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain and conductor Sir Mark Elder perform one of the final concerts of the Barbican autumn/winter season. Audiences will be able to watch a new generation get behind the greatest orchestral music of all time in the Barbican Hall and in their homes via a Live from the Barbican broadcast (4 Jan 2024, Hall)
ANTHONY MCGILL: MILTON COURT ARTIST-IN-RESIDENCE
Celebrated clarinettist Anthony McGill embarks on his tenure as Milton Court Artist-in-Residence. An opportunity to hear the New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s principal clarinettist – the first African-American person to hold a principal role at the orchestra - demonstrate his ‘lustrous sound and dynamic range’ (Bachtrack) across three intimate concerts:
- Britten Sinfonia join McGill to give the long-awaited European premiere of Anthony Davis’s hard-hitting You Have the Right to Remain Silent. The evening is specially curated by McGill and Davis and includes a panel discussion with guests alongside music by Jessie Montgomery and George Walker (29 Nov 2023, Milton Court)
- McGill hosts the annual Milton Court Artist-in-Residence Masterclass for budding musicians from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and for the public (30 Nov 2023, Milton Court)
- Performing in recital with pianist Michael McHale, McGill brings an exhilarating all-American programme of Bernstein, Hailstork, Copland, James Lee III and Jessie Montgomery to Milton Court (3 Dec 2023, Milton Court, afternoon performance).
- McGill returns to complete his residency with a chamber music focus with further collaboration with musicians from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the Barbican’s spring and summer season 2024, with details to be announced later this year.
NEW MUSIC, NEW WAYS OF LISTENING
- GRAMMY Award winning US vocal band Roomful of Teeth reimagines the expressive potential of the human voice in new works and premiere performances of pieces by Leilehua Lanzilotti (European premiere) and Alev Lenz (world premiere) and Roomful of Teeth’s own Caroline Shaw. (7 Oct 2023, Milton Court)
- Violinist Viktoria Mullova and cellist Matthew Barley lead the Mullova Ensemble in an exploration of love and night-time inspired by Schoenberg’s evocative string sextet Verklärte Nacht - the starting point for a world premiere of a multidisciplinary collaboration with dancer Ching-Ying Chien, choreographer Joshua Juncker and composer Jasmine Morris (18 Oct 2023, Milton Court)
- Kronos Quartet return to the Barbican for a special performance as part of their 50th anniversary tour. For five decades, the San Francisco group has challenged and reimagined what a string quartet can be - revolutionising it into a living artform responding to both people and issues of our time. This special anniversary performance will include Steve Reich’s Triple Quartet and selections from beloved albums like Pieces of Africa and Nuevo, as well as pieces by George Crumb, Dumisani Maraire, Terry Riley, Peni Candra Rini, Alfred Schnittke and more (21 Oct 2023, Hall)
- Violinist Fenella Humphreys and writer and historian Leah Broad present Quartet – after Broad’s critically-acclaimed new book of the same name – are joined by pianist Nicola Eimer as they explore the trailblazing work of four women composers: Doreen Carwithen, Rebecca Clarke, Dorothy Howell and Ethel Smyth (5 Nov 2023, Milton Court)
FESTIVALS AND CELEBRATIONS
- Darbar Festival 2023 returns for its eighteenth year with a magical, mindful mix of emerging raw young talent, master performers making their UK debuts as well as world class legends, maestros, and maestras - all crafting an enchanting world of melody and rhythm. Alongside mighty performances sit workshops, guided meditations, the return of the ever-popular Yogabliss and Breathwork as well as lectures and demonstrations to invite audiences old and new into the world of Indian classical music. (26-29 Oct 2023, Various Venues)
- EFG London Jazz Festival returns in November, with a line up yet to be announced but promising a host of jazz legends, rising stars and spellbinding collaborations, as London continues to prove itself a hotbed for a thriving jazz scene (Nov 2023, Various Venues)
- Acclaimed British jazz, minimalist and avant-garde composer Gavin Bryars celebrates his 80th birthday at the Barbican as the Gavin Bryars Ensemble perform a programme of his works that will include arias and duets from Doctor Ox’s Experiment and Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet (19 Dec 2023, Hall)
- Italian pianist Beatrice Rana makes a powerful Barbican recital debut, celebrating the music of Italian composer Mario Castelnuovo Tedesco alongside works by Debussy, culminating with Liszt’s gargantuan Sonata in B Minor (25 Oct 2023, Hall)
- The long-running ECHO Rising Stars series, championing brilliant emerging musicians, continues this season with performances from soprano Axelle Fanyo and pianist Kunal Lahiry (13 Oct 2023, LSO St Luke’s) as well as Barbican ECHO nominee – the “compelling” (The Sunday Times) and Gramophone award winning guitarist Sean Shibe (18 Jan 2024, Milton Court)
- A familiar face to Barbican audiences, violinist Maxim Vengerov returns for a recital with Polina Osentinskaya performing works by Clara Schumann and Sergei Prokofiev (30 Oct 2023, Hall)
- Multi-award-winning Polish pianist Piotr Anderszewski gives a solo recital in the Barbican Hall carefully counterpointing baroque and modern with the music of JS Bach and Karol Szymanowski – both composers whose work he has recorded and performed to widespread acclaim (2 Nov 2023, Hall)
- A rare Barbican recital for French soprano Natalie Dessay joined by longstanding artistic collaborator, pianist Philippe Cassard, in Women’s Words – a new project celebrating the works of Alma Mahler, Fanny Hensel-Mendelssohn, and Clara Schumann alongside works by French composers exploring voices of women in classical music (6 Dec 2023, Milton Court)
- Debussy’s magical Préludes are performed by one of their supreme living interpreters, French pianist Jean-Yves Thibaudet (24 Jan 2024, Hall)
Barbican Resident Orchestra and Associate Ensembles autumn 2023/winter 2024 highlights:
LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA
London Symphony Orchestra Associate Artist Barbara Hannigan opens the season with a programme that explores transfiguration, transformation and metamorphosis with works by Ligeti, Vivier, Haydn, Nono and Richard Strauss (14 & 17 Sept). Two further concerts (20 & 21 Sept) focus on Stravinsky with Pulcinella and his Symphony in Three Movements.
LSO Chief Conductor Designate Sir Antonio Pappano conducts a total of eleven Barbican concerts during 2023/24, with significant highlights including the world premiere of an LSO commission – Hannah Kendall’s O flower of fire (4 & 5 Oct), two performances of Felix Mendelssohn’s oratorio Elijah with soprano Masabane Cecilia Rangwanasha, mezzo-soprano Dame Sarah Connolly, tenor Allan Clayton and bass Gerald Finlay with the London Symphony Chorus (28 & 31 Jan 2024). Sir Antonio’s October programmes celebrate music for dance including Franz Liszt’s Totentanz, with guest pianist Alice Sara Ott plus Strauss’ Also sprach Zarathustra (4 & 5 Oct); Ravel’s La valse, Fazil Say’s Violin Concerto (1001 Nights in Harem) with guest violinist Patricia Kopatchinskaja, and Rachmaninoff’s Symphonic Dances (8 Oct); Bartók’s Divertimento for Strings, Beethoven’s Symphony No 7 and two modern masterpieces: Thomas Adès’ Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with guest pianist Kirill Gerstein (12 Oct).
Principal Guest Conductor Gianandrea Noseda’s performances of the great Russian masterpieces have become a ‘not to be missed’ occasion in recent seasons, so it is with great anticipation we announce that during his first visit to London (7 & 10 Dec) he will conduct Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No 6, Prokofiev’s Symphony No 4, both symphonies are paired with Brahms’ Piano Concertos 1 & 2 with Simon Trpčeski as soloist. Guest conductor Susanna Mälkki conducts two further concerts featuring guest pianist Kirill Gerstein (30 Nov & 3 Dec). They perform Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto No 3 and Ravel’s Piano Concerto No 4. These programmes are completed with the LSO’s first performance of George Benjamin’s 2021 Concerto for Orchestra, and Hindemith’s Symphony: Mathis der Maler, with the Ravel complemented by Debussy’s Three Nocturnes, and Scriabin’s Symphony No 4, The Poem of Ecstasy.
The LSO welcomes back Sir Simon Rattle, Conductor Emeritus, to continue their voyage through Janáček’s operas with two performances of Jenůfa, with Asmik Gregorian in the title role (11 & 14 Jan 2024).
BBC SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA AND CHORUS
The BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chief Conductor Sakari Oramo open the new season with a programme of grand passions and epic vistas, beginning with a wild, strange vision from György Ligeti. Pianist Alexandra Dariescu joins to perform Croatian composer Dora Pejačević’s Phantasie Concertante, and the evening is concluded with Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 5 (6 Oct).
The season continues with Ilan Volkov conducting Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring (22 Oct), and darkness meets light with Shostakovich’s shattering Tenth Symphony juxtaposed by the ecstasy and optimism of music by Olivier Messiaen, and a new, BBC co-commission and UK Premiere of Milky Ways by Outi Tarkiainen, performed by cor anglais soloist Nicholas Daniel and led by David Afkham, who makes his BBC SO conducting debut (27 Oct).
Eva Ollikainen conducts a concert filled with fantastic stories and the sounds of Stravinsky, Debussy, and Boris Lyatoshinsky’s Grazhyna, and violinist Ilya Gringolts performs the world premiere of Lotta Wennäkoski’s Prosoidia, co-commissioned by BBC Radio 3 with a second movement inspired by Ingmar Bergman’s film Cries and Whispers (3 Nov). Later in the month, an evening of beauty, truth, and deep emotions are promised as Semyon Bychkov conducts two fourth symphonies: Brahms’s, and a major UK premiere and BBC co-commission by Detlev Glanert, performed by mezzo-soprano Catriona Morison and Baritone Christian Immler (24 Nov).
In December, Oramo conducts two concerts reflecting travel and fantastical voyages. The first, Beethoven’s Symphony No 3, the ‘Eroica’, alongside Ravel’s poetic Shéhérazade with mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston, and 19th century British composer Alice Mary Smith’s Jason and the Argonauts (1 Dec). Oramo will also conduct Sibelius and Nielsen, counterpointed with the world premiere of Tebogo Monnakgotla’s new violin concerto, Globe Skimmer Surfing the Somali Jet, performed by former BBC New Generation Artist Johan Dalene (8 Dec). Ryan Wigglesworth, Chief Conductor of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, conducts the London premieres of his Magnificat and his arrangement of Monteverdi’s Lamento d’Arianna, alongside Sophie Bevan and the BBC Symphony Chorus (15 Dec).
Then, in January, Oramo will be joined by star violinist Vilde Frang for Stravinsky’s Violin Concerto, a piece that celebrates the composer at his most witty and guarantees an explosive opening to a concert, before the magic of Sibelius’s First Symphony, with its raging storms, Arctic gales and shimmering aurora borealis colours (20 Jan).
ACADEMY OF ANCIENT MUSIC
The Academy of Ancient Music (AAM) celebrates half a century of excellence in baroque and classical music this season. To launch its 50th anniversary season, AAM presents an iconic work that has been a mainstay of the orchestra's repertoire since its inception: Handel's Music for the Royal Fireworks (18 Oct). Highlights later in the season include a programme exploring Empress Maria Theresa's musical world – a landscape of familiar names alongside lesser-known female composers, such as Maria Theresa Agnesi, Marianna Martines and Maria Antonia Walpurgis (23 Nov) – and a performance of JS Bach's complete Brandenburg Concertos (25 Jan 2024). The 50th anniversary celebrations continue off stage with the release of an anniversary book by journalist and former Hogwood Fellow Richard Bratby. Due for release on 12 October 2023, the book explores AAM's rich and complex history and its role in lifting period instrument performance from the fringes of 1960s counterculture and putting baroque music into the pop charts. The 50th anniversary season also sees AAM complete a landmark recording project with scholar-pianist Robert Levin 30 years after it first began. Upon completion, this cycle will become the first-ever recording of Mozart's complete works for keyboard and orchestra on either modern or historical instruments.
Britten Sinfonia kicks off autumn 2023 as Associate Ensemble at the Barbican with two song cycles which show the best and worst of humanity. Award-winning soprano Elizabeth Watts joins the orchestra in Gerald Finzi’s Dies Natalis, exploring the joy and innocence of a baby’s view of the world through Thomas Traherne’s mystical texts. By contrast, Richard Blackford’s new work sets powerfully moving poems by young Afghan writer Nadia Anjuman, whose courageous life was tragically cut short when she was killed by her husband in 2005. A new Britten Sinfonia commission from Ryan Latimer, 2022 Britten Sinfonia and Barbican co-commission Glade by Dobrinka Tabakova, drawing surprising inspiration from Barbican green spaces also feature. (20 Oct, Milton Court). Britten Sinfonia joins Milton Court Artist in Residence, clarinettist Anthony McGill, who in 2014 became the first African-American principal player at the New York Philharmonic, in a concert featuring works by George Walker, Jessie Montgomery and the European premiere of Pulitzer Prize-winning composer Anthony Davis’s 2011 work for clarinet and chamber orchestra, You Have the Right to Remain Silent. (29 Nov, Milton Court). In a rare twist on the perennial seasonal favourite, Britten Sinfonia performs Handel’s Messiah re-imagined by Mozart. Until the 1950s, Mozart’s arrangement of Messiah for a late 18th century orchestra with enhanced woodwind and brass was a commonly performed orchestration of the work (12 Dec, Hall).