The return of live music: what venues have re-opened and are there any classical concerts near me?

31 July 2020, 13:57 | Updated: 31 July 2020, 14:33

What classical concerts are returning in the UK?
What classical concerts are returning in the UK? Picture: Mark Allan

By Rosie Pentreath

Indoor live music with an audience is allowed to return on 15 August, as long as it is safe to do so. But what venues will be open and which orchestras are returning?

In July, the Prime Minister announced that audiences could return to indoor live performances in August (confirmed as no earlier than 15 August), paving the way for the long-awaited return of live classical music and other performing arts, following the devastating impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

Outdoor concerts have also been given the go-ahead, with safe social-distancing in place.

Pending successful pilots – which are currently being carried out with the London Symphony Orchestra, among others – socially distanced audiences will be allowed to return on Saturday 15 August, all being well.

But, after the closures and devastating job cuts caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, will concert halls and other venues be able to re-open right away? And which orchestras will be able to return? Below is an updating list of live events we’ve spotted that you can attend in person.

Read more: What are the new rules for rehearsals, concerts and live music venues? >

What live classical music is restarting in the UK?

  1. London Symphony Orchestra ‘Summer Shorts’ – LSO St Luke’s, London

    Throughout July and August, London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) – one of Classic FM’s partner orchestras – is bringing us ‘Summer Shorts’, a series of short recitals by LSO musicians, performed live at LSO St Luke’s. They’re available to watch on YouTube, but they’re also part of the government’s pilot scheme for welcoming live audiences back, with opportunities to buy tickets and attend coming up very soon.

    Visit: lso.co.uk/summershorts

  2. Wigmore Hall welcomes back live audiences

    From 14 September, Wigmore Hall is hoping to open its doors once again to live audiences – pending the latest advice from the government.

    The Autumn season will consist of 80 concerts featuring 150 international musicians – from pianists Igor Levit, and Mahan Esfahani, soprano Sabine Devieilhe and mezzo Marianne Crebassa, to the Arditti Quartet and the Nash Ensemble – performing wonderful concerts to a reduced-capacity audience.

    Before the government put the breaks on reopening music venues on 1 August due to a rise in coronavirus cases, the plan was to let only 56 people attend the concerts at the Hall itself. But that’s now yet to be confirmed.

    Luckily the performances will also be streamed online. See Wigmore Hall’s update on Twitter below.

    Visit: wigmore-hall.org.uk

  3. Read more: We’re now getting a glimpse of what live music looks like post-lockdown >

    Kings Place ‘Culture Clinic’ – Kings Place, London

    Aiming to fill the gap in your life left by the closure of venues and lockdown of musicians around the country and the world, Kings Place has launched ‘Culture Clinic’ in line with the government’s planned re-admittance of indoor audiences.

    On an individual basis – and with a group of up to six people in total – the clinic invites audience members missing live music to experience a unique, 15-minute ‘consultations’ with musicians offering bespoke one-to-one performances in a safe environment. The audience is even welcome to share their personal stories or reflections from lockdown, which the artists will respond to with a new or existing piece of music or literature.

    Visit: kingsplace.co.uk/whats-on/culture-clinic

  4. Fidelio Orchestra, ‘Fidelio Unbound’ – Fidelio Orchestra Café, London

    When pubs were allowed to reopen on 4 July, Fidelio Orchestra Café in London welcomed punters back in a COVID-safe capacity, bringing with its refreshments performances from leading musicians. Under the tag ‘bringing live classical music back’ the café has welcomed people to hear performances for Steven Isserlis, Alina Ibragimova and Samson Tsoy safely, with appearances from pianists Pavel Kolesnikov, Louis Schwizgebel, and Charles Owen, and actor Simon Callow reading Shakespeare, in July and August.

    Visit: fideliorchestra.art/fidelio-unbound

    Steven Isserlis performs at Fidelio Unbound in London.
    Steven Isserlis performs at Fidelio Unbound in London. Picture: Fidelio Orchestra
  5. Snape Maltings Weekend Concerts

    Snape is planning to host safely distanced, reduced-capacity weekend concerts at Snape Maltings Hall from August, once the government has been deemed it’s safe to do so.

    Watch for updates on the BrittenPears Twitter.

    Visit: snapemaltings.co.uk

  6. And for those still more comfortable enjoying music outdoors...

    Hampstead Garden Opera presents an opera by Holst

    Throughout August, Hampstead Garden Opera is putting on Holst’s one-act chamber opera, Sāvitri, in the garden of Lauderdale House in Highgate.

    So if you’re not quite ready to head inside between enclosed walls with fellow classical lovers, with the coronavirus pandemic lingering, these performances might be just the opportunity for you to get back to enjoying in-person, live music.

    Visit: hgo.org.uk/savitri

We will be adding more venues and events as they open and are announced.