2014 might seem like a long way off, but fanfares are already ringing out around the classical music world, heralding a new year of concert programmes. Most of the major classical venues and orchestras have now announced what they’re up to in the 2013/14 season, and we’ve got so much of it in our database that we thought we’d take a look through it all and pick out some likely highlights. Have a read to find out what the concert halls have in store for you next year!

Happy birthday Jean-Philippe, Dick and Harry

Richard Strauss, photo by Ferdinand Schmutzer
Richard Strauss, photo by Ferdinand Schmutzer
This year may well prove to be a quieter affair for anniversaries than 2013. Richard Strauss is turning 150, and our database is already showing signs of a bumper season for his tone poems and orchestral songs. But, thus far, there isn’t as noticeable a shift in concert programming as we have seen this year with Britten, and it may well be in the opera houses of the world where Strauss’ anniversary is celebrated most prominently (as indeed will be the case with Gluck, turning 300). Other anniversaries for 2014 include 250 years since Rameau’s death, and there are already a number of commemorative events scheduled for next season, especially at the Salle Pleyel and Cité de la Musique in Paris and at BOZAR in Brussels. C.P.E. Bach is turning 300, too, and though there are nods to this in many places the highlight so far looks like it will be Jordi Savall’s full performance of his oratorio The Israelites in the Desert at Cité de la Musique.

More contemporary celebrations include Harrison Birtwistle’s 80th birthday, with performances at both the Muziekgebouw and the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and a series of concerts in the Barbican’s new space Milton Hall, with Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.

As for the rest of 2013 – it’s already been pretty packed with anniversary concerts, and Bachtrack's listings remain fit to bursting with Britten, Wagner and Verdi until the year is through. There are particularly notable Britten celebrations in the later parts of this year in Hong Kong, where Hong Kong Sinfonietta play a number of his works, and the Barbican in London, where Britten Sinfonia and Richard Alston Dance Company will team up for an enterprising set of choreographed song. Wagner is ahead of Verdi in the concert hall, with bleeding chunks for all – but concert performances this autumn of Rigoletto from the London Symphony Orchestra and Il Trovatore from the Netherlands Radio Philharmonic, as well as Requiems all over the place, will certainly compensate.

Cities and seasons

Maybe having fewer major anniversaries to celebrate in 2014 is giving concert programmers a little more freedom, and it looks like the focus at the top venues will generally be as much on quality of performance as on particular musical themes. Southbank Centre, for instance, are waving goodbye to their monumental, year-long The Rest is Noise series in 2014, but the upcoming more traditional repertoire will be well-performed indeed, with stars from Maurizio Pollini (in two recitals) to Sir Simon Rattle (performing The Creation with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment), and several top visiting orchestras as well, including Orchestra Mozart with Claudio Abbado and Martha Argerich.

Salle Pleyel © Julien Mignot
Salle Pleyel
© Julien Mignot
In Paris, the trend towards high quality in performance is even more pronounced, as a glance at the Salle Pleyel’s remarkable list of guest orchestras will confirm. They’re welcoming a sizeable percentage of Europe’s top groups, and throwing in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, São Paolo and San Francisco Symphonies to boot – to name but a few. Not that Paris’ musical scene is restricted to eminent symphony orchestras: a wonderful series at Cité de la Musique Concert Hall and Amphitheatre, prominently featuring residents Ensemble Intercontemporain, ensures something for everyone.

BOZAR’s season in Brussels is similarly full of delights, in both the Henri le Boeuf Concert Hall and the Conservatoire Royal de Bruxelles. Season themes include “The Intimate and the Sacred” (look out for a great deal of provocative spiritual music) and a special look at Rameau in his anniversary year. There’s also a visit from the impressively peripatetic Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, who we’re listing in a remarkable twelve different countries. Also at BOZAR next year will be Grigory Sokolov, and you may well want to book tickets for him as soon as possible.

Stockholms Konserthuset © Jan-Olav Wedin
Stockholms Konserthuset
© Jan-Olav Wedin
That said, we’re also listing the great Russian pianist in performances at the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam, and also the Konserthuset in Stockholm – a venue, home of the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra, which features a noticeably diverse programme across its orchestral and chamber seasons. There is a special focus on composers Unsuk Chin and Jesper Nordin, and a contemporary recorder concerto by Daniel Börtz. Esteemed past directors Alan Gilbert and Herbert Blomstedt return, the latter precisely reproducing the programme he gave with the orchestra at his debut 60 years ago. And current music director Sakari Oramo, following a chamber recital this season, will return to the Grünewaldsalen for a solo violin recital.

Unsuk Chin is in for a particularly good year in Sweden, with Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra set to première her Clarinet Concerto in May 2014 – with soloist Kari Kriikku and conductor Kent Nagano, who is taking up a position as Principal Guest Conductor. Nagano is also conducting a Beethoven 9 in October, and taking the reins for the Swedish première of Hans Abrahamsen’s Let Me Tell You, a piece for soprano and orchestra that Barbara Hannigan will later bring to Amsterdam with the Rotterdam Philharmonic and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.

The Berwaldhallen, home of the Swedish Radio Symphony in Stockholm, confirms that Sweden is the place to go to hear top-quality contemporary orchestral music. Alongside large amounts of Mahler and a lot of Baroque music, the Swedish première of Mark-Anthony Turnage’s Speranza will surely be another highlight, especially with the orchestra’s director Daniel Harding in charge (he conducted the world première with the LSO a couple of months ago).

BBC Symphony Orchestra © L. Platman
BBC Symphony Orchestra
© L. Platman
London will have its fair share of new music too, with the BBC Symphony Orchestra’s new chief conductor Sakari Oramo bringing a number of premières to their new season at the Barbican. The London Symphony Orchestra, also based at the Barbican, celebrates Bernard Haitink’s 85th year, and with chief conductor Valery Gergiev there are twin focuses on Berlioz and Scriabin, continuing their habit of offering new glances on interesting older music. There’s also a Brahms cycle from the Gewandhaus Orchestra Leipzig, and the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra are visiting too. Further south, highlights from the new season at Southbank Centre include the long-awaited world première of Henryck Górecki’s Fourth Symphony, and a rare visit from György and Márta Kurtág. Resident ensembles the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia and the OAE all have strong seasons, and the London Sinfonietta still have more to announce.

© Carnegie Hall Corporation
© Carnegie Hall Corporation
Gergiev is also performing prominently in New York: at Carnegie Hall, with his Mariinsky Theatre Orchestra, in a series of three concerts which spotlight those three contrasting Russian contemporaries Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Rachmaninov. Naturally, Carnegie is welcoming many more remarkable guests besides, including Yo-Yo Ma and his Silk Road Ensemble, the Vienna State Opera for concert performances of both Wozzeck and Salome, and Louis Lortie performing Lizst’s enormous Années de pèlerinage, complete. A Britten War Requiem from Atlanta Symphony and Robert Spano in April 2014 suggests that after the mammoth Britten year we’re currently enjoying, he might be a concert hall fixture to stay.

Musical life in Vienna extends well beyond the opera house and the Vienna Philharmonic, as our listings amply prove: the Vienna Symphony have a beautiful season programmed, and although Philippe Jordan officially becomes Music Director in the 2014/15 season he is conducting the orchestra in nine concerts next season as well. The ORF Radio-Symphonieorchester Wien, with Chief Conductor Cornelius Meister, have an attractive programme of old and new, and are one of several orchestras to give unexpected prominence to the works of Arthur Honneger: conductor Vladimir Fedoseyev is joining them for a concert performance of “dramatic psalm” Le Roi David.

Vienna Symphony Orchestra © Lukas Beck
Vienna Symphony Orchestra
© Lukas Beck
Elsewhere in the German-speaking world, the Gürzenich Orchestra Cologne are planning numerous performances of Schoenberg’s epic Gurrelieder with director Markus Stenz, the German première of Britta Bystrom’s Second Trumpet Concerto with Tine Thing Helseth, and plenty more besides. And the ever-ambitious Bamberg Symphony Orchestra have a programme including some provocative Beethoven concerts and a guest appearance from Gustavo Dudamel for Schubert and Tchaikovsky. The Zurich Chamber Orchestra, meanwhile, are celebrating Sir Roger Norrington’s 80th birthday in 2014 with much Mozart and more besides, and they have also programmed what is surely among next season’s most intriguing kids’ events: it’s called “The Infernal Comedy” and features an appearance from John Malkovich.

For sheer variety, Amsterdam is probably the city to beat. Both the Concertgebouw and the Muziekgebouw offer a dazzling array of concerts of all types, with orchestra lovers well satisfied with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Netherlands Philharmonic and Netherlands Radio Philharmonic all at the Concertgebouw regularly, the hard-touring Amsterdam Sinfonietta often at both venues, and some wonderfully daring repertory at the Muziekgebouw with emphases on the early and the modern. With so many other major artistic projects just coming to fruition as well, Amsterdam will be a fascinating place to be in the coming year. But wherever you’re based, and wherever you’re planning to go, we hope we can help you to find some live music for while you’re there.