London’s Barbican resumes public concerts from May 17

London’s Barbican resumes public concerts from May 17


norman lebrecht

April 13, 2021

The Barbican has announced the return of live audiences from May 17, with the hall playing to 50 percent capacity.

Reopening concerts include the premiere of Errollyn Wallen’s Dido’s Ghost, Sheku and Isata Kanneh-Mason, and the Britten Sinfonia with Thomas Adès.

Few EU cities will be enjoying concerts so soon.




  • Gustavo says:

    “Few EU cities will be enjoying concerts so soon.”

    So the Brexit in combination with COVID-19 was the best thing that could have happened to the UK since Maggy Thatcher.

  • Sisko24 says:

    I hope this reopening goes well for them. It would be nice if it did.

    I have a tangential inquiry about the Barbican. From what I’ve read, it isn’t a good concert hall for symphonic music. Since Simon Rattle left for other shores and the powers that be decided (evidently) to not build a new concert hall in London, does that mean that the Barbican will be looked at for a redo? Does anyone have any idea about that?

    • Jon says:

      Yes, the City Corporation has pledged to launch an international competition next year for plans to refurbish the Barbican Centre:

      “Barbican Centre director Nicholas Kenyon said: “New times need new solutions. As we reimagine the City in a time of recovery, we are delighted that a major project to renew the Barbican will be launched in 2022, its 40th anniversary, updating our iconic venue in line with sustainability, climate action, and the ever-changing needs of audiences, communities, and our many performers, including our superb resident orchestra, the LSO. This will make the Barbican the creative home for the next generation.”

    • Maria says:

      It only opened in 1982!

    • John Kelly says:

      You are correct, it’s not a very good hall for symphonic music, not horrible, but certainly not good. Can that ever be rectified? Doubtful in my judgement.

    • Saxon says:

      The Barbican is not great for symphonic music, but is not a disaster either. It is adequate, but no more than that.

      Festival Hall, in contrast, is poor, and the Albert Hall isn’t much better.

  • Michael Wilkinson says:

    Brighton Festival has a live recital of Schwanengesang at the Dome (distanced audience) with Roderick Williams on May 17th, and further concerts after that.

    • Maria says:

      Hardly a crowd puller, particularly if you don’t love Lieder in large doses!

      • Michael Wilkinson says:

        Roderick Williams is certainly a crowd-puller, as one of our finest singers,( listen to his new recording of these works) and more classical music follows.

  • Maria says:

    Only London can do this as they have the money to do so, not all the cities in the UK, whatever about the EU. 50% audience a financial nightmare, if not disaster, for Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, Belfast, Cardiff and Glasgow. And the South Africa form of the virus taking off again in the London boroughs of Wandsworth and Lambeth, right south of the capital.

  • Jacob Christensen says:

    Denmark is scheduled to open concert venues on May 6 (I have a ticked for a – postponed – concert in Odense that evening)