September 2019: Classical Music Guide

We have two underground adventures for you in September, a brand-new festival in Gloucestershire, a theatrical concert at Postal Museum’s Mail Rail, and the first ever live show of BBC Radio 3’s Unclassified. You can join our mailing list to be notified when our October recommendations are out, and we would love to see you on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter. If you see us at any of these gigs, come and say hello!

19 September - 20 October, £12+
Cardiff, Liverpool, Belfast, Glasgow, Leeds, Oxford, York, Hull, Nottingham, Manchester, London

Sirocco is a great storm of music that celebrates the warmth and diversity of folk traditions from across the globe. It’s hard to categorise by genre but take it from us, it’s a mesmerising explosion of all kinds of gorgeous music, from Abel Selaocoe’s outrageous arrangements for solo cello to beloved classics by Stravinsky and Haydn, alongside Danish and African folk songs. The Manchester Collective show has been touted as a ‘once in a lifetime’ experience’ and when we saw it at Kings Place last year it received an overwhelmingly positive reaction.

Sunday 29 September, 7.30pm - 9.30pm, £12-£22
Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank

If you don’t already listen to Unclassified on BBC Radio 3, tune in now as it’s the Alternative Classical of the radio world! Elizabeth Alker plays music by an exciting new generation of unclassified composers and performers, breaking free of the constraints of practice rooms and concert halls. This is its first live show, combining orchestral music, visuals and electronics with music by Daniel Avery, Tim Hecker and Darkstar. Looking forward in particular to Anna Meredith’s 4 Tributes to 4am for chamber orchestra and electronics, which explores the crossover point between yesterday and tomorrow.

Friday 13 September, 7.30pm, £14 (£10 under 25s)
The Postal Museum, Clerkenwell

The first ever concert (and a theatrical one, to boot) to be held at the Postal Museum’s Mail Rail, the former engineering depot of the underground railway that transported post under the streets of London. Amid the engineering relics and old trains, explore the letters that Vaughan Williams wrote to his circle of composer friends including Gustav Holst, Grace Williams and Elizabeth Maconchy, and hear chamber works by Southbank Sinfonia. A bar will be open and you can visit the Mail Rail exhibition.

Watch the trailer >>

18-22 September, various times, £30
Bascule Chamber, Tower Bridge


One of the most unique venues in London (no exaggeration!) hosts an unmissable series of new music and poetry. Descend below Tower Bridge to the subterranean underworld of the huge Bascule Chamber, accessible only via 120 stairs, to hear a new commission for solo percussion using objects found in the Thames (!); premieres by Charles Mingus, Iain Chambers and Egidija Medekšaite; and recently unearthed music by Julius Eastman. Wrap up warm and find a toilet before tackling the stairs as there isn’t one underground.

14 & 15 September, 7.30pm - 8.30pm, £10/£5 (pay what you can)
Bold Tendencies, Floors 7-10, Peckham Multi-Storey Car Park


A rareish performance of Max Richter’s awesome reimagining of Vivaldi’s classic Four Seasons scored for electronic and string ensemble and harpsichord, performed alongside one of Vivaldi’s original Concertos for String Orchestra. All played live for you in the UK’s most cultured car park by the Multi-Story Orchestra.

28-29 September, £30 day tickets
St Laurence Church, Stroud

Exciting to see a brand-new festival launching in Stroud, presenting contemporary classical and avant-garde composers rarely seen together on the same stage. Pull up a pew to hear a multitude of sounds from musicians from around the world including cellist/pianist Sebastian Plano, percussionist Manu Delago’s 9-piece band, pianist Lubomyr Melnyk and violinist Daniel Pioro. And music podcast Excuse the Mess, which explores the lives and minds of living composers, will be at Sound Records shop interviewing the artists.

Saturday 14 September, 2.30pm, free
Stratford Play House, Stratford-upon-Avon


A 2-hour playathon by Orchestra of the Swan set in the round, with doors opening every 10 minutes for visitors to come and go at their leisure. Your concert seat will be a bespoke deckchair created by Barbara Fidoe and your entertainment will include both well-known favourites and pieces you may not have heard before.

9-12 September, 8pm, £10/£6
Glasgow, Belfast, Edinburgh, Aberdeen

Spend The Night With… Australian group Ensemble Offspring who perform new music by Scottish and Australian contemporary composers – including world premieres by Matthew Whiteside and Jane Stanley – in a vegan bar in Glasgow, a performance venue in Belfast, a storytelling centre in Edinburgh and an arts cinema in Aberdeen.

Thursday 5 September, 7.30pm, £12
Rich Mix, Shoreditch

This is the launch of the AV show for Let My Country Awake, Bishi’s new electronic classical album composed for voice looper, sitar and electronics, with live-coded visuals by Output Arts. The album explores immigrant identity, and Bishi herself is the British-Bengali daughter of immigrants, adopted by London’s community of alternative queer nightlife. She received musical training in both Western classical and Hindustani styles and her music is an avant-garde, futuristic fusion of styles.

Saturday 21 September, 4pm/8pm, £14.50
Kings Place, King’s Cross

Marie Stopes published her controversial sex manual, Married Love, in 1918, revolutionising how the world understood desire, sexuality and sexual health. A century on, Alex Mills has written a new 45-minute chamber opera exploring a fascinating snapshot of society’s sex life using extracts from thousands of emotionally-charged letters Stopes received in response to her book, which feel just as relevant now as they were 100 years ago.

Wednesday 25 September, 7pm, £7-£65
Linbury Theatre, Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Gerald Barry’s operas are like no other - daring, surreal, and often laugh-out-loud funny. This new, messed-up baroque production rediscovers its zoo of emotions, characters and absurdities in a blurring of imagination and reality, as it explores notions of sexuality, creativity and obligation.

21 & 22 September, 7.30pm, £19.50
Kings Place, King’s Cross

Canadian cellist and composer Zoë Keating is a one-woman orchestra, using a cello and a foot-controlled laptop to create a distinctive mix of old a new through live layering. Her music is intricate, haunting and compelling, and has been used in over 20,000 third-party YouTube videos, in everything from dance performances, films, plays, live paintings, climbing videos and live gaming soundtracks.

Wednesday 18 September, 8pm - 11pm, £10 (£6 students and concessions)
The Victoria, Dalston

A night of percussion and electronics in Dalston hosted by nonclassical. Entertaining this evening are Joby Burgess, known for his virtuosic performances and daring collaborations, and electroacoustic folk artist Reylon, who won this year’s nonclassical Battle of the Bands. Music includes Qilyaun by John Luther Adam and Voyages by Gabriel Prokofiev (grandson of Sergei). Live music and DJ sets, in the usual nonclassical style, with plenty of chances for drinking and merry-making.

Saturday 28 September, 9.15pm, £9.50
Kings Place, King’s Cross

Aurora Orchestra is bringing its interactive children’s concert back but this time for adults! Discover your inner child by wandering among the lavender and wiggling with worms, led by workshop leader Jessie Maryon Davies.

Tuesday 3 September, 7.30pm - 9.30pm, £25
Duart Castle, Isle of Mull


Feast on the music of Haydn, Brahms and Britten, played by the Doric Quartet, in the epic surroundings of the Banqueting Hall within a 13th-century castle. This concert is part of the Mendelssohn on Mull Festival, now over 30 years old. German composer Mendelssohn made a 3-week visit to Scotland in 1829 when he was just 20, resulting in him composing The Hebrides overture and the Scottish Symphony (no. 3). Opens with a Champagne reception.

6 & 15 September, 7pm & 2pm, £7-£17
Oxfordshire

Opera Anywhere produce accessible and entertaining opera for all ages in all sorts of spaces. In September they’re taking their new production of Hansel & Gretel, composed by German composer Engelbert Humperdinck in the 19th-century, to the amphitheatre at Waterperry Gardens and Sunningwell Village Hall. Set in 1938, the opera takes for inspiration one of the darker and less well-known stories of evacuee children in wartime Britain. Fun for all the family in a relaxed setting.


Hannah Fiddy