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Guide to Classical Music, Opera and Dance in London

The Tower Bridge © Simon Winnall | London and Partners
The Tower Bridge
© Simon Winnall | London and Partners
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Our guides to orchestras and venues in London
Festivals in London
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LondonLa Traviata Gala Evening for the MS Society

La Traviata Gala Evening for the MS Society
Verdi: La traviata
Matthew Kofi Waldren; Rodula Gaitanou; Opera Holland Park; Lauren Fagan; Matteo Desole; Stephen Gadd; Laura Woods

LondonCarolyn Wharton

Chopin
Carolyn Wharton, Piano

LondonBach's Mass in B minor

Bach: Mass in B minor, BWV232
London Handel Orchestra; Adrian Butterfield

LondonRCM Brass Ensemble

RCM Brass Ensemble
Walton, Mozart, Mussorgsky
Jack Pilcher May; Nigel Black; Chris McMullen-Laird; RCM Brass Ensemble; RCM Chamber Orchestra
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La bohème at ROH: a simple tragedy, heart-rendingly told

Maria Agresta (Mimì), Matthew Polenzani (Rodolfo) in Act 4 © ROH | Catherine Ashmore
A committed cast make this  a beautifully performed ensemble piece in which the tragedy of young love cut short by untimely disease is compellingly put across.
****1
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Williamson breaks new ground with BRB

Artists of BRB in Williamson's Embrace © Emma Kauldhar
It is good to see Birmingham Royal Ballet in such fine fettle. This triple bill is well conceived and deftly performed. Not always flawless in its execution, but a five star programme nonetheless.
*****
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Lovely programme... but the Philharmonia can deliver more

Shiyeon Sung © Yongbin Park
The William Tell Overture promises much, Grieg and Tchaikovsky are well played but struggle to escape the routine.
***11
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BRB brings its Romeo & Juliet to London

César Morales and Momoko Hirata in Romeo and Juliet © Bill Cooper
Like meeting the near-identical twin of that much-loved friend: BRB's fine performance of their unique take on Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet 
****1
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Biography

People looking for a classical concert in London are truly spoilt for choice. The city boasts five major orchestras and regularly hosts many others; several venues for chamber music and smaller-scale orchestral performances; choral works are frequently played in the main concert halls as well as in churches, and there are two major opera houses.

The Barbican Centre where the well known London Symphony Orchestra perform (and the BBC Symphony Orchestra) as well as the Southbank Centre (where you find both the Royal Festival Hall and Queen Elizabeth Hall,) home of the Philharmonia and London Philharmonic Orchestra vie for the title of London's premier hall for orchestral concerts. Cadogan Hall, near Sloane Square, is the main home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, which also performs music outside the standard classical repertoire. In summer, the attention shifts to the BBC Proms festival at Kensington's Royal Albert Hall, which hosts a dazzling array of visiting Orchestras as well as the BBC's own performing groups.

The Wigmore Hall in Marylebone, is the capital's home of instrumental and chamber music. In addition, there are many other venues for smaller scale events, joined recently by the newly built King's Place, a development near King's Cross station which houses the London Chamber Music Series. London has several specialist orchestras such as the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (specialising in baroque and early music), and the London Sinfonietta, which plays 20th and 21st century works.

Many churches host concerts of choral and other works, most notably St. Johns Smith Square in Westminster and St. Martin-in-the-Fields on Trafalgar Square.

London has two internationally acclaimed opera companies: the Royal Opera (which performs at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden), and the English National Opera, which performs at the London Coliseum and always sings opera in English. Less known is the fact that there are several smaller opera companies such as Hampstead Garden Opera, who perform in smaller venues with tickets suitable for considerably smaller budgets!

These are some great concerts also to be found at the music colleges: the Royal Academy of Music and the Royal College both have events which showcase their students: these are often of very high quality.

There are dozens of other venues not listed above. If you're a music fan visiting the capital and looking for a classical music concert, you'd be hard pressed to pick a day when nothing's playing, and if you live in London, you have an overwhelming selection of orchestras, conductors and pieces of music in different styles from different composers. The main danger is to your bank balance!