Southbank Centre programme Spring/Summer 2024 announced

Southbank Centre programme Spring/Summer 2024 announced
Photo © India Roper-Evans

The Southbank Centre and its family of Resident Orchestras has announced 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 Norwegian Chamber Orchestra with its Artistic Director Pekka Kuusist
  • 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 Sloane, Prelude 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).