The best classical music and opera online streams available
27 October 2020, 10:53 | Updated: 27 October 2020, 16:03
An updating list of the major classical concerts and events being streamed online as a result of the impact of coronavirus measures continuing around the world.
Measures taken worldwide to curb the spread of coronavirus have seen numerous classical concerts and events postponed and cancelled, and concert halls around the world closed for indefinite periods, since March.
Countries banned gatherings, tightened their borders, and many went into lockdown for weeks. Now things are only just starting to slowly open up, but seeing live music is still a rare treat.
As many of us are continuing to stay at home to work, self-isolate and look after the family, many major classical concerts and events are still being held without audiences and streamed live for us to see – for free in many cases – and to bring comfort, solidarity and some beautiful relief in trying times.
Upcoming classical concerts and opera being live streamed
13 September - 22 December, 13:00 or 19:00 BST: Wigmore Hall has opened it’s doors once more, and had the “huge joy” to use director John Gilhooly’s words, of announcing a string of streamed lunchtime and evening concerts – over 100, featuring over 200 artists – for September to December. “Alongside the core chamber and song repertoire, I have encouraged artists to explore 20th and 21st century composers and a diversity of repertoire throughout the series,” Gilhooly says. As well as being streamed online, the concerts are open to restricted audiences on a ballot system. Click here to find out more, and visit Wigmore Hall’s website for full Autumn concert listings and timings.
30 September - 30 December, 20:00 GMT: After six months of absence, the London Philharmonic Orchestra returns to the Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall on 30 September to launch ‘In the Stream of Life’, a full Autumn season of 13 concerts streamed globally on Marquee TV – free for the first seven days. Vladimir Jurowski, Karina Canellakis and Edward Gardner will all be joining the orchestra.
1 October - 10 December, 19:30 GMT: Academy of St Martin in the Fields presents its ‘re:connect’ autumn series from St. Martin-in-the-Fields church online, with all performances available on a pay-to-view basis for 30 days. Enjoy the beautiful music of Pärt, Fauré, Bach and more, and guest appearances from the great Toby Spence, Huw Watkins and others.
8 October – 17 December, 13:10/19:30 GMT: Scottish Chamber Orchestra is extending its online concert offering, and on Tuesday 8 October kicked the new set of online concerts off with chamber music by Schumann and Brahms. There are some great evening and lunchtime instalments coming up, including Ravel’s Violin Sonata, Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme and Schubert’s Symphony No 5 – all filmed at Edinburgh’s beautiful Queen’s Hall and the recently-opened Laidlaw Music Centre at the University of St Andrews.
Visit: facebook.com or youtube.com
9 October - 26 February 2021, 19:30 GMT: Royal Scottish National Orchestra (RSNO) presents a digital season of 10 wonderful orchestral concerts – celebrating 250 years of Ludwig van Beethoven, who said, “There is nothing more beautiful than distributing happiness to many people.” Amen to that. Watch via RSNO’s digital channels.
22 October - 14 December, various times: The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (OAE) launches its new online platform, OAE Player, which features dazzling performances and enlightening (could resist) masterclasses with the likes of violinist Nicola Benedetti, tenor Mark Padmore and baritone Roderick Williams.
The OAE kicks things off on the 22nd with Telemann Fantasias for solo harpsichord, viola da gamba and flute, filmed in London’s stunning Fitzrovia Chapel. That day, Mark Padmore’s masterclass with OAE’s ‘Rising Stars’ singers will also stream, as well as Nicola Benedetti’s performance with the orchestra filmed at Snape Maltings. Performances available on the platform later in the year include Brahms’ Violin Concerto with Alina Ibragimova, Mozart with pianist Steven Devine and Baroque songs with Roderick Williams and Rowan Pierce.
23 - 25 October, 19:00 / 16:00 BST: Violinist and Baroque champion Rachel Podger’s Brecon Baroque festival can be enjoyed online for as little as £4 this year. With a premier of Chad Kelly’s special arrangement of JS Bach’s Goldberg Variations for Rachel Podger and Brecon Baroque on the bill, plus interactive events around the music, it’s a weekend brightener for anyone craving for a virtual concert or two.
23 October - 1 November, various times: The UK’s autumn early music festival Brighton Early Music Festival is going digital this year, with BREMF@home – 10 specially created events screened on YouTube and Facebook. Each film will remain online for 7 days after the premiere. Highlights include an introduction to the trumpet marine – a towering 2 metre high instrument saved from extinction; and medieval songs of protest with new animations of medieval images from Joglaresa.
26 October - 30 November, 19.30 GMT: Classic FM’s Orchestra on Tour, the Philharmonia Orchestra, presents four online concerts, live from their Royal Festival Hall London home. The series opens on Monday 26 October with a programme of American music, including works by Copland, Reich and Florence Price – and continues with Britten’s Les Illuminations starring soprano Julia Bullock on Sunday 29 October; Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto performed by Sergey Khachatryan and conducted by Elim Chan on Thursday 12 November; and violinist Nicola Benedetti and conductor Pablo Heras-Casado joining forces for Beethoven on Monday 30 November.
Visit: philharmonia.co.uk (UK) or app.idagio.com/live/category/concerts (worldwide)
28 October, 18:30 BST: Dash Arts presents a wonderful mini-concert and live discussion on Zoom to mark Estonian composer Arvo Pärt’s 85th birthday. There will be performances of Pärt’s music from British pianist Sophia Rahman and Estonian violinist Andres Kaljuste, as well as conversations between the musicians and Pärt’s own son and chairman of the Arvo Pärt Centre, Michael Pärt. Tickets are available with a suggested £5 donation: more than worth it for tintinnabuli in digital form!
October - November: A Celebration of John Rutter’s Music. The very first Paul Phoenix Academy (PPA) Online Music Festival marks the 75th birthday of one of the world’s most loved composers. He says: “No matter where you are, you can share John Rutter’s inspirational music and uplift spirits, to help one another combat loneliness and create hope and joy.” Rutter himself will be adjudicating, and you can submit your own vocal entry here.
7 November, 13:00 ET: Star soprano Pretty Yende and tenor Javier Camarena join forces to perform operatic favourites and show-stoppers from Zurich, as part of the ‘Met Stars Live’ series of online concerts from the iconic opera company.
9 November, 19:30 GMT: Bampton Classical Opera returns to present a rare operatic gem – Gluck’s one-act opera The Crown, which hasn’t been performed in the UK since 1987. Staged in the Baroque surrounds of the beautiful St John’s Smith Square in London, the production will be available on demand for just £8 online, via Bampton Opera’s website. And if you want to attend in person – the performance itself will be given to socially-distanced audiences on Friday 6 November, tickets for which can be found here.
11 November, 19:00 GMT: Star guitarist MILOŠ performs an online concert from the Konzerthaus Blaibach in Germany. The programme will include Villa-Lobos’ Preludes and an atmospheric arrangement of ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ by Japanese composer Tōru Takemitsu. MILOŠ performance will be available for 72 hours.
13 November, 20:00 EST: Third Coast Percussion performs a live concert of music by master of minimalism, Philip Glass. Free to watch – expect hypnotising repeated motives and energetic rhythms.
13 November, 19:00 CET: The Bergen Philharmonic is streaming concerts from the Grieghallen on its free platform. The next one will be a semi-staged production of Verdi’s Macbeth, in a co-production with Bergen National Opera. Edward Gardner will conduct the orchestra and a cast featuring Roberto Frontali and Alex Penda, directed by Lenka Udovicki.
14 November, 19:30 GMT: The Self-Isolation Choir, founded during the COVID-19 pandemic, is joining virtual forces once again – this time for Mahler’s epic Symphony No. 2 ‘Resurrection’, a piece that communicates a much-needed message of hope and renewal. The piece will also feature the Orchestra for the Earth, conducted by John Warner.
18 November – 23 December 2020: The Sixteen, the Voices of Classic FM, presents a series of six online concerts featuring exquisite music set against a backdrop of splendid architecture. Presented by actor Sir Simon Russell Beale, and conducted by Harry Christophers, ‘A Choral Odyssey’ will see the choir sing at, and explore the history and architecture, of iconic locations around the country, including Shakespeare’s Globe and Penhurst Place in Kent. The online series will have new episodes every Wednesday, and all episodes will be available to watch on demand until 31 January 2021.
21 November, 20:00 EDT: Clarinettist Anthony McGill performs Anthony Davis’s powerful You Have the Right to Remain Silent – an orchestral work inspired poignantly by Davis’s own experience of being pulled over by the police and held at gunpoint for 45 minutes because he “matched the description” of a suspect fleeing a robbery. McGill performs the work with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and conductor Louis Langrée.
24 November 2020, 19.30 GMT: Following its partnership with Classic FM to present The Philharmonia Sessions, Philharmonia Orchestra re-ignites the series with Beethoven’s The Creatures of Prometheus. Esa-Pekka Salonen has the baton, and the legendary Stephen Fry joins the orchestra to lend his insights on the ballet.
Visit: philharmonia.co.uk (UK) or app.idagio.com/live/category/concerts (worldwide)
1 December - 31 December: VOCES8’s online festival returns with a snow-dusted selection of holiday music, filmed live from the choir’s stunning church in the heart of London and from venues across the world. Live From London Christmas comprises 15 concerts in total.
5 December, 15:00: Spitalfields Music Festival goes online for 2020 for one action-packed day only. Spitalifields Festival At Home will feature performances from Chineke! Junior Orchestra and the Dunedin Consort, world premiere performances of brand new music – and an informal late-night ‘song club’, featuring composer Errollyn Wallen, singer-songwriter Katie Melua, and friends.
Recent past live-streamed classical concerts
2 October, 19:30 BST: Pianist Kirill Gerstein heads to Wigmore Hall in London to perform a beautiful live concert of Debussy’s Études and Liszt’s Sonata in B minor. Lucky for those of us unable to be in the socially-distanced audience, the concert will be streamed in full online.
Visit: wigmore-hall.org.uk or youtube.com
9 October, 08:30 BST (19:30 NZST): Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra presents ‘APO at the Opera’ – a live-streamed concert of works by Verdi, Puccini, Bellini and Gounod – with conductor Holly Mathieson and presenter Simon O’Neill leading proceedings. Enjoy moments from La bohème, Otello, Romeo and Juliette, Rigoletto and more.
11 October, 18:45 BST: Stradivarius Piano Trio performs a streamed concert in the gorgeous surrounds of Leonardslee House in Sussex – with Bach, Beethoven, Schumann and Sally Beamish on the bill. As well as being a chance to hear sumptuous music, this concert’s raising money for a very good cause, Chestnut Tree House Children’s Hospice, with a live auction taking place halfway through the evening.
10 - 20 October: Beijing Music Festival broadcasts its 23rd edition on Facebook – with a theme that celebrates and reflects on ‘the music must go on’ in light of 2020’s events. Shanghai Symphony Orchestra, the China Philharmonic, the Wuhan Philharmonic and Beijing Symphony Orchestra will make appearances among others. Another big feature of 2020 was Beethoven, who was born 250 years ago this year, so there’ll be plenty of that too.
16 October, 19:00 BST: London Symphony Orchestra (LSO) and Classic FM team up to stream LSO’s concert of works by Bartók, Strauss and Kendall – live from LSO St Luke’s – on LSO YouTube Channel and Classic FM’s Facebook Page. “The programme really suits conductor Kerem Hasan’s personality,” LSO violinist Alix Lagasse says. “He’s so energetic and vibrant, and he’s chosen a programme all about dance.”
Visit: facebook.com or youtube.com
16 - 17 October: St Andrews Voices launch their 2020 festival online, including welcoming Harry Christophers and the Voices of Classic FM, The Sixteen, for two virtual performances from the spectacular acoustics of St Augustine’s in Kilburn.
16 - 18 October, 10:00 - 21:00 BST: Music at Malling Festival has moved its 2020 edition online, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. And there’s now a streamed offering – including pianist Daniel Grimwood’s performance of Beethoven’s ‘Moonlight’ and ‘Pathétique’ sonatas, a celebration of British music, and a stream of Eleanor Alberga’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarves.
17 - 18 October: The International Malcolm Arnold Festival, now in its 15th year, will be available online for the first time in its history. Events celebrating the music of the great composer are free to watch, with the festival welcoming donations from viewers. Performers will include flautists Jenny Dyson and Emma Halnan, violinists Peter Fisher and Roger Coull, and The Amos Miller Brass Quintet – among many other performers and special guests.
22 October, 20:00 GMT: The Kanneh-Mason family of seven immensely talented musicians performs live from the Barbican to a limited audience. Tickets are sold out, but the concert – and a Q&A between the children and their parents – is streaming online for £12.50.
24 October, 18:00 BST: Opera stars Diana Damrau and Joseph Calleja join forces for the latest instalment of ‘Met Stars Live in Concert’, performing popular arias and duets live at the stunning Royal Palace of Caserta in Italy (see above). Expect ceiling-raising performances of Verdi, Bizet, Rossini and more.
24 October, 19:00 BST: As part of the City of Derry International Choir Festival, Tenebrae – with director Nigel Short at the helm – performs an enchanting concert of works by Allegri, Bach, Lasses and Rege, in a free online concert broadcast from London’s St Stephan Walbrook Church.