Classical music is as strong as ever despite several bumps in the roadImage:

For classical music fanatics like myself, spring is an incredibly exciting time of year when events are announced, casting suspicions are confirmed, and we can start to look forward to another year of live classical music. In Cambridge, we are spoilt for choice. However, London is undeniably the capital of opera and large-scale orchestras, boasting some of the finest institutions in Europe. It is evident from the season ahead that classical music is as strong as ever despite several bumps in the road (cough, cough: the pandemic and Brexit). I have therefore compiled a list of the London-based performances which I am most looking forward to next season.

What to look out for at the Proms

First on the agenda is the world’s largest classical music festival: the BBC Proms. This year’s Proms boasts some of the genre’s greatest performers and compositions. As 2023 marks the 150th birthday of Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff, his epic piano concertos will be played throughout the summer and his Variations on a Theme of Paganini will be performed by Yuja Wang – a concert that is sure to be a firecracker of energy and excitement (4 August).

Pembroke's own Anna Lapwood at the Royal Albert HallInstagram (@annalapwoodorgan)

Other highlights include the Pygmalion Ensemble’s performance of Mozart’s Requiem (7 September), the Aurora Orchestra playing The Rite of Spring from memory (2 September), and Mahler’s Ninth Symphony, which is Sir Simon Rattle’s last UK performance as the London Symphony Orchestra’s (LSO) music director (27 August). Most notably, Pembroke’s own Anna Lapwood will play a late-night recital on the Royal Albert Hall’s organ (25 July). It’s worth remembering that, even if tickets appear sold out, the Proms offer “Day Promming” tickets, which are just £8 and go on sale the day of (or, in some cases, the day before) the concert at 10:30am.

Things to see at the Royal Opera House

The Royal Opera House’s 2023/24 Season begins in September with a new production of Das Rheingold by director Barrie Kosky. Das Rheingold is the first instalment of Richard Wagner’s immense tetralogy The Ring of the Nibelung, and Kosky’s version is hugely anticipated after several other successful productions for Covent Garden. Das Rheingold will be conducted by Sir Antonio Pappano, the incoming music director of the LSO. Other highlights of the season include Nina Stemme in Richard Strauss’s Elektra (January 2024), Aigul Akhmetshina in Bizet’s Carmen (April-May 2024), and Sir Bryn Terfel in yet another Wagner opera, The Flying Dutchman (February-March 2024).

Highlights (amid chaos) at the English National Opera


Mountain View

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There is no denying that the last few months have been turbulent for the ENO, especially since the Arts Council announced that it was pulling its funding. Negotiations have since led to a grant of £11.5m for the financial year. However, the resulting disruption has thrown its next season into confusion. For example, The Ring – which they are, quite literally, in the middle of – has been paused; Siegfried, the third opera in the Ring Cycle, will not go ahead as planned. Mostly, however, they seem to have adapted well. In November, they will present the UK premiere of the performance artist Marina Abramović’s Seven Deaths of Maria Callas. Bartók’s Bluebeard’s Castle, of which there are only two performances in March, is also worth seeing.

Other gems to attend

There are many other gems that will dazzle in this heavily packed season. Daniil Trifonov will play Brahms’ Piano Concerto No.1 with the Philharmonia on 26 November. 24 March will see conductor Daniel Harding direct the LSO in Mahler’s Fifth Symphony (the piece that takes centre stage in the recent movie Tár). At Wigmore Hall, one of London’s most intimate venues, there is a chance to see some of today’s greatest artists up close. Notable concerts include Austrian bass-baritone Günther Groissböck (22 September) and Norwegian soprano Lise Davidsen (13 October), both of whom are at the peak of their careers.