Live music and audiences return to Barbican Centre in recast autumn season

London venue announces concerts for both live and digital viewers, while the LSO will close the year’s Beethoven celebrations with an ambitious piano concerto cycle

London’s Barbican Centre announced on Tuesday the return of live concerts in a reimagined autumn 2020 season. A concert series, Live from the Barbican, will take place between 4 October and 13 December 2020 with a digital audience alongside a socially distanced live one. Less than a sixth of the seats in the hall – which can in normal times accommodate just under 1,950 – will be available due to social distancing requirements. Around 300 tickets will be on sale for £20 each, and tickets to watch the live stream (or on demand within a 48-hour window) will be £12.50.

Bryn Terfel
Bryn Terfel, opening the Barbican’s classical season on 4 October. Photograph: Mitch Jenkins

The music season begins with bass-baritone Bryn Terfel performing music by Bach, Finzi and Ivor Novello with the Britten Sinfonia; on 22 October all seven brothers and sisters of the Kanneh-Mason family will be on stage for their first ever London concert together, and on 1 November Antonio Pappano is joined by tenor Ian Bostridge, soprano Dame Sarah Connolly, and the Carducci Quartet. Other highlights include Scottish multi-instrumentalist and contemporary composer Erland Cooper, Neil Hannon’s chamber pop group The Divine Comedy, singer-songwriter Emmy the Great, and, as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival, Cassie Kinoshi and SEED Ensemble will mark the 80th birthday of spiritual jazz star Pharoah Sanders in November.

Composer Erland Cooper
Erland Cooper. Photograph: Chris Turner

The Barbican’s resident symphony orchestras will also be returning to the venue and live music making. The BBCSO give the world premiere of the chamber orchestra version of Magnus Lindberg’s Accused on 6 November, and, in December, the orchestra and its principal guest conductor Dalia Stasevska are joined by physicist Professor Brian Cox to explore music and the cosmos.

The London Symphony Orchestra, which has this month begun a season of socially distanced live performances at LSO St Luke’s, will give a series of 11 concerts from 29 November in the Barbican hall. Acclaimed Polish pianist Krystian Zimerman will be the soloist in the five Beethoven concertos, in concerts that will be performed twice a day to a live audience and recorded for future broadcast.

Krystian Zimerman
Complete Beethoven cycle … Krystian Zimerman. Photograph: Hiroyuki Ito/Getty Images

The Beethoven concertos will be paired with works by Stravinsky, and on 17 December the final LSO concert of 2020 will close Beethoven’s 250th anniversary year with Zimerman playing all five piano concertos in one extended programme across a single day.

Nicholas Kenyon, the Barbican’s managing director, hailed the new season as “a significant step forward”. “We’re delighted to expand our offer through the autumn, gradually opening up our venues and providing space for artists and communities to connect … online as well as in person.”

“As it became apparent that the show couldn’t go on as planned this autumn, we realised we had to start over and create an entirely new season that’s right for here and now,” said Huw Humphreys, head of music. He hopes that the new technology and streaming initiatives will mean that the Barbican’s concerts reach a bigger, global audience.

“The autumn concerts have been designed and produced with both digital streaming and live audiences in mind and developed entirely in-house,” Humphreys added. “This has made us more flexible and agile, and we hope to continue to use this technology in the future to bring our programming to wider audiences on and offline, nationally and internationally. Who knows what the future holds, but livestreaming will play an increasing role in concert presentations going forward.”

• Full details of the new season at


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