Breaking: LSO quits Barbican for smaller hall

Breaking: LSO quits Barbican for smaller hall


norman lebrecht

August 27, 2020

The London Symphony Orchestra will resume work next week, ‘moving to LSO St Luke’s, newly equipped with state of the art facilities,’ so long as the Barbican remains stubbornly closed.

This is a bold act of self-empowerment on the LSO’s part.

Three orchestral concerts are scheduled at LSO St Luke’s, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and including Bartok’s Bluebeard’s Castle.

Lunchtime and drivetime concerts will be open to live audiences at LSO St Luke’s.

Rattle said: ‘Audiences will be used to the LSO’s performing virtuosity, but in our new situation we have had to be quick on our feet and become virtuosos of programming! We realise how lucky we are to have LSO St Luke’s and we have moved at lightning speed to transform it into a modern filming and recording centre which can accommodate anything from chamber concerts to a medium sized orchestra.

‘It has been fascinating to put together programmes for all kinds of groups from 2 players up to nearly 70, and we have taken the opportunity to explore composers and performers that we have long wished to be part of our family. There is a new emphasis on music by female composers and also composers from ethnic minorities. I am particularly excited to give the UK premiere of George Walker’s Sinfonia number 4, Strands. He was the leading African-American composer up to his death aged 96 two years ago, and his music has been unaccountably neglected in Europe, despite its immense strength and integrity. We hope this will be just the start of a LSO exploration of his work.

‘There will be 14 orchestral concerts and a whole series of Friday lunchtime chamber concerts, and we feel blessed to be able to perform together once more after all these months. I would like to pay tribute to the orchestra and the entire organization for remaining so resourceful and typically positive throughout this difficult period, and I can’t wait to make music again. It will seem like Feast after Famine.’

The pianist Peter Donohoe posts: ‘I am extremely happy to be able to announce, after many months of uncertainty, that my performance of Tippett’s wonderful piano concerto with the London Symphony Orchestra and Sir Simon Rattle will go ahead in the LSO St Lukes Centre on 23 September at 6.30.

‘This will be my first public appearance since the end of January in Moscow. It will such a thrilling experience to once again see musicians arriving with their instruments and to get down to some serious music-making. And what great colleagues I am lucky enough to be working with on such an optimistic and joyful work – one that I have long held to be one of the very greatest British piano works.’


  • Andy says:

    Good news. Good for them for coming up with a solution to get back onstage. I haven’t been to a live concert since February and am hoping to be there when Peter Donohoe plays the Tippett piano concerto, which should be quite a treat. Feast after famine indeed.

  • Peter Macklin says:

    Why is this article accompanied by a painting of Symphony Hall in Birmingham?!

  • Tone row says:

    Hidden in the press release is that the orchestral concerts will have no live audience…

  • Schoenberglover says:

    Their programming for the autumn looks more varied & exciting than the original plans. Shame there won’t be a live audience.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    I’m guessing St. Luke’s should sound significantly better than The Barbican.

  • Ironia says:

    I had my booking for Bluebeard cancelled by the virus, so good news it will be back. How does one book?

  • CarlD says:

    I have no idea what’s supposed to be objectionable about this quote from Rattle. As for the photo, it’s a joke. Lighten up.