A short walk north from the Barbican, the converted church LSO St Luke’s is an enviable combination of rehearsal, concert and broadcasting space. With the flexibility to present a variety of chamber groupings all the way up to full orchestra, the 2023–24 season offers an array of concert series, catering to listeners of all types.

Loading image...
Chamber music at LSO St Luke’s
© Tom Lovatt

The free LSO Discovery Lunchtime Concerts, presented by Rachel Leach, on Friday lunchtimes monthly from September through to June 2024 are the perfect type of event for listeners new to classical music. Only 45 minutes in length, the music is announced shortly before the concert, can be anything from small groups to a whole orchestra and includes a range of repertoire from different periods. Complementing this series is LSO Discovery Musical Storytelling, designed for children. These events are very desirable and sell out fast, so be sure to book ahead.

BBC Radio 3 hosts a series of lunchtime concerts at St Luke’s, and this season, fans of Richard Strauss should be sure to stop by for the Essentially Strauss series. Strauss was a prolific composer of chamber works, but many of these remain relatively obscure and little-performed. Strauss’ youthful Piano Quartet, and some early works for wind ensemble, conducted by Nicolò Foron (the recent winner of the Donatella Flick Competition), have already been presented in September. 

In October, mezzo Catriona Morrison unearths some early Strauss Lieder, programmed (perhaps a little unfairly) against Berg’s Op.2 Songs and Mahler’s Songs of a Wayfarer. Later in October, Elena Urioste and Tom Poster also perform early Strauss, alongside a selection of Kreisler miniatures and an unusual work by German composer Luise Adolpha Le Beau.

The Baroque Fancies concert series begins in November, featuring a smorgasbord of 17th- and 18th-century offerings (as well as a smattering of Baroque-commentary works from later eras). Soprano Lucy Crowe and pianist Anna Tilbrook present a predominantly English selection of songs from Purcell and Arne, echoed in French romantic chanson from Louise Farrenc and Cécile Chaminade among others.

Loading image...
Rachel Podger
© Theresa Pewal

Acclaimed virtuoso Baroque violinist Rachel Podger makes an appearance soon after in November, joined by lutenist Daniele Caminiti and harpsichordist Marcin Świątkiewicz. This wide-ranging concert includes Podger’s signature composer Heinrich Ignaz Biber, but also includes diverse selections from Telemann, Froberger, and a darkly chromatic gem of a sonata by the Italian composer and violinist Francesco Maria Veracini.

Harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani also appears in this Baroque series, with a recital including music by Sebastian and WF Bach, William Byrd (recognising the 400th anniversary of his death this year), and neo-Baroque offerings by Victor Kalabis and Brett Dean. The recorder has been much maligned lately, but it is a beautiful instrument, and recorderist Lucie Horsch is joined by harpsichordist Tom Foster for a recital including some haunting solo recorder music by blind Dutch recorder virtuoso Jakob van Eyck.

Loading image...
Axelle Fanyo
© Capucine de Choqueuse

The European Concert Hall Organisation (ECHO) is running a few concerts at St Luke’s this season, featuring their Rising Stars young artists. French soprano Axelle Fanyo has been inviting the audience to assist in curating her recitals, and the direction of her October recital will be determined by the audience applause – whether it should divert towards American composers (Copland, William Bolcom, Florence Price) or French composers (Caplet, Ravel, Poulenc). In January, the second ECHO concert will also include Poulenc, as well as a range of Spanish selections from Mompou and de Falla, when guitarist Sean Shibe appears at St Luke’s. A new commission from Thomas Adès will also be heard on this occasion.

Spanish themes continue into the new year, with the Spanish Connections concert series. The long-established London chamber group the Nash Ensemble perform in February, with a dancey programme of Turina, de Falla and Ravel. Both Turina and de Falla make appearances in Juan Pérez Floristán’s solo recital a few days later. Then, Spanish mezzo Clara Mouriz appears with pianist Joseph Middleton, with a similarly Iberian programme. This concert series will be rounded out with acclaimed cellist Alban Gerhardt performing with pianist Stephen Osborne.

Loading image...
Bertrand Chamayou
© Marco Borggreve

Pianist Bertrand Chamayou is a resident soloist with the LSO in 2024, performing Unsuk Chin’s Piano Concerto with François-Xavier Roth in March. At LSO St Luke’s he presents four programmes from February through to April, together with guest musicians. The music is yet to be announced. In addition, Roth himself will appear at St Luke’s to conduct a series of new, short pieces for orchestra, as part of the LSO Panufnik Composers Workshop.

The final concert series this season at St Luke’s is dedicated to Mozart and Haydn string quartets. Haydn more or less invented the genre, and had a profound influence on his younger colleague Mozart. In April, two young quartets, Quatuor van Kuijk and the Armida Quartett, both former BBC New Generation Artists, will perform pairings of Haydn and Mozart, the second concert featuring Mozart’s famed “Dissonance” Quartet. Then in May, the British period-instrument group Consone Quartet and the eclectic French Quatuor Voce will appear with similar Hadyn/Mozart programmes: a chance to contrast two differing approaches to classical quartet repertoire.

For those with free lunchtimes in London, the 2023–24 season at LSO St Luke’s offers much: for young people, for listeners new to classical music, and for old hands looking to catch the newest talent in chamber music.

See our complete listings for LSO St Luke’s 2023–24.
This preview was sponsored by the London Symphony Orchestra