October 2019: Unconventional Concerts

A choral concert in a club, a music/theatre mashup and a spooky candlelit concert in a cemetery with cocktails… There’s an adventure waiting in store, everywhere from Inverness to Truro! You can join our mailing list to receive our event recommendations directly, and we would love to see you on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. If you would like to invite us to your event or send it in for inclusion in a future guide, email Hannah Fiddy, @Hannah_Fiddy on Twitter). 😘

3-23 October, 7.30pm, £20-£25 (16-25s £5)
Worcester, Exeter, Bristol, Liverpool, Sheffield, Bradford, Truro, Llandaff, Lichfield

Explore the stunning architecture of your local cathedral with a live orchestral soundtrack by the City of London Sinfonia. Prop yourself up on cushions or roam freely while chilling to the meditative music of Arvo Pärt and Dobrinka Tabakova, and hear ancient choral melodies that have resounded in our cathedrals across centuries. Aaaaand…relax.

16-21 October, £12-26 (<26s £12.50, students £7)
Edinburgh, Inverness, Glasgow, Perth, London

How do our surroundings change the way we listen? Scottish Ensemble puts this to the test on their next tour: the first half of each concert will be performed in one venue, before moving to another venue for the second half. In a ‘choose your own adventure’ approach to programming, you can start in the cosier chamber venue and move to the more ceremonial church setting, or vice versa. Experience vivacious, virtuosic music from baroque composers Vivaldi, Corelli, Locatelli and Biber, and enjoy the walking break between sets!

Thursday 24 October, 7pm & 9pm, £8
Round Chapel, Hackney

A daring new concert experience from orchestral innovators Southbank Sinfonia at Hackney’s Round Chapel (famous from Sam Smith’s Burning video). 36 musicians constantly reconfigure to envelop the listener in this concert/theatre mashup, with choreography from movement director Imogen Knight (Amadeus, National Theatre). Featuring visceral music by Pēteris Vasks, Jean Sibelius, Pierre Jalbert, John Luther Adams and Gérard Grisey.

10-11 October, 6pm - 10pm, free
St John’s Churchyard, Leeds


For Light Night Leeds, step into a symphony in St John’s Churchyard, as the trees come alive in birdsong, light and the music of Rautavaara’s Swans Migrating, which mixes orchestral melody with the sounds of swans as the fly south. Inside, sit back and be part of an intimate musical experience as Manchester Collective curates a live performance of Messiaen’s epic Catalogue of the Birds. Each of the 13 movements will be interspersed with new live mixes by Erland Cooper.

Saturday 5 October, 7.30pm - 9.30pm, £15 (students & children £5)
Brangwyn Hall, Swansea

Stand, sit, lie down or walk around with a drink at BBC NOW’s first informal concert. Hear well-known classics by Elgar, Prokofiev, Copland and Ravel and get up close to the 180 musicians performing, including the BBC National Orchestra and Chorus of Wales, saxophonist Amy Dickson, pianist Huw Watkins, organist Huw Williams, and young musicians from Six Counties Music.

P.S. You’re welcome to take photos and videos during the show 📸

19 & 20 October, 8pm, £15 (includes gin cocktail)
Brompton Cemetery, Kensington

💀 Enter the cemetery at sundown, pause for a morale boosting Hendrick's gin and tonic and proceed at your peril on a procession to the chapel in the heart of the cemetery. In the cemetery chapel you will be treated a candlelit concert of Schubert's Death and the Maiden, performed by the Vanitas Quartet. The bleak, foreboding theme of mortality permeates all four movements of the quartet. The last movement is a traditional dance to ward off madness and death.

Wednesday 16 October, 1.10pm - 1.55pm, free
Chancellors Hall, Senate House, Bloomsbury

A bite-sized kaleidoscopic performance perfect for your lunch break. Classical and contemporary classical works are reinvented through performance art, animation, and audio-visual projections. There’ll be a playful reimagining of Kurtág’s Játékok with live projection and performance art, and a cinematic audiovisual composition by Max Burstyn, inspired by interplanetary travel and paying homage to the Apollo 11 mission.

Tuesday 29 October, 7.30pm - 10.15pm, £10 (students £5)
CLF Art Cafe, Bussey Building, Peckham

You may know this venue from a night out clubbing, but tonight the vibe will be slightly different as world-class musicians from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment play music by composers such as Bach, Beethoven and Mozart. Grab a drink and enjoy!

Thursday 17 October, 7.30pm - 9pm, £15
CLF Art Café, Peckham


Another classical night in our favourite Peckham club – lovely stuff! The New London Chamber Choir presents visceral music by contemporary composers that pack an emotional punch, dealing with issues of sexual politics, mental illness and memory. Juvenilia, a new piece by Laurence Osborn, examines languages and codes that children use and hear, during which the singers impersonate characters, animals and instruments. As the composer puts it, “book if you are a fan of made-up languages, pig noises, and Pokémon…”.

23 October - 3 November, £6
Aberdeen

A festival of new music, covering contemporary classical, electroacoustic, vocal and jazz with a mix of concerts, workshops, installations and talks. A highlight is the informal late-night sound sessions held in the Belmont Filmhouse Café Bar, where you can wind down with a drink and an array of new sounds.

Wednesday 2 October, 7.30pm, £11 (students & <25s £7)
Crypt on the Green, Clerkenwell

Listenpony curates a concert of new and old, with notes hot off the press from six composers, alongside renaissance and baroque music arranged for small keyboards. The awesome Ligeti Quartet will be playing, and there’ll be music by Anna Meredith and singer-songwriter Ana Silvera. All in a hidden church crypt (with bar) in central London.

Monday 14 October, 7.30pm - 8.30pm, £8
Fidelio Café, Clerkenwell

Stay in Clerkenwell, as there’s a very nice new cafe/bar, where you can listen to classical music (both live and recorded). Fidelio also a basement concert space, which plays host to weekly performances. Our pick for October is violinist/pianist duo Emma Arizza and Maria Grecu, who are celebrating humour in music, loved by both classical and romantic composers. Between humoresques, scherzos, devilish laughter and little jokes, you will be transported to a different world where the great music of composers such as Beethoven and Paganini will make you smile. 😊😊 Keep an eye on this venue as there’s lots in store!

12 & 20 October, 7pm & 4pm, £12 (students £10)
St Michael the Archangel, Southampton & The Music Room, Mayfair

echo vocal ensemble explores mazes, puzzles and the navigation of the unknown. Their programme spans nine centuries, with musical appearances by Machaut, Bach, Meredith Monk and James Blake, as well as folk song, world music and improvisation. This group never stays in one place, so expect some singing from amongst the audience, and also a chance to participate…

24 October - 23 November, 8pm, £15 (students £12.50)
York, Cambridge, London

A collection of contemporary classical works inspired by medieval women, both historical (including the wives of Henry VIII) and imagined. This celebration of fiery female characters will be performed in Tudor dress at Tudor and Elizabethan venues around the UK by Transposed ensemble. The music, written mostly post-1950 by composers such as Britten, Walton and Horowitz, is centered around the powerful song cycle Try Me, Good King, by contemporary composer Libby Larsen.

Wednesday 23 October, 7.30pm & 9.30pm, £21.50-£26.50 (<25s £10)
Barbican Hall, Barbican Centre


Steve Reich and Gerhard Richter – two giants of contemporary culture – come together in a major new collaboration: a cinematic exploration of Richter’s intense, abstract painting 946-3 (pictured). Through a combination of music and digital visuals, algorithmically derived from the art, this event promises an artwork that’s more than the sum of its parts. Very excitingly, Steve Reich will be in London for this European premiere! Unsurprisingly, the early showing is sold out so be quick if you want a ticket… 🏃‍♀️

Wednesday 30 October, 1pm - 2pm, free
Leggate Theatre, Liverpool

The Ligeti Quartet perform video- and digital game-based musical scores in this hour-long concert. One of the pieces you’ll hear, SQ2 by Paul Turowski (Lecturer in Music for Digital Games at the University of Liverpool) is realised via a digital score that is generated in real-time, augmenting a traditionally fixed Western music notational system with the capabilities of a 3D video game engine (Unity). Intriguing!

Saturday 12 October at 7pm, Sunday 13 October at 5.30pm, £15-£35
St George’s, Bristol & Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford

Fresh from a successful run in London, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment brings its unique mix of baroque music and science to Bristol and Oxford for the first time. There’s going to be talks about astronomy in Bristol and applied mathematics in Oxford, plus sacred vocal music by Bach, and inspirational readings.