Top 5 Alternative Classical Concerts

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Experience orchestras with a twist

If the idea of attending a classical music concert fills you with anxiety or sends you off to sleep right away you might be a candidate for our selection of alternative concerts. Music should be for everyone and the sensation of sharing music together is one that no one should miss out on. Whether you like pop, electro, dance or hip-hop, these alternative classical concerts offer the chance to experience your favourite artists in a new and unusual way.

Max Richter at the Barbican

Max Richter, Photo: Mike Terry

Max Richter is easily one of the most exciting living composers around, a restless uber-creative alchemist of sound, who breaks all confines of genre, writing film music, full ballet scores, post-minimalist electro-acoustics or rewrites of Vivaldi classics. Sounds and Visions - a weekend curated by Max Richter and Yulia Mahr is a complete creative takeover of the Barbican that will see over 18 concerts, film screenings and art installations, some free, some ticketed. Highlights include a performance of his melancholic multimedia work Infra, the 12 Ensemble, one of the UK’s leading string ensembles performing music from The National’s Bryce Dressner, the London premiere of Richter’s stunning ballet score Three Worlds (from Woolf Works) and the Chineke! Orchestra performing his film score of Waltz With Bashir.

Sounds and Visions - A weekend curated by Max Richter and Yulia Mahr is at the Barbican 11 - 14 May. Tickets £10 - 35, plus free events

Re:Imagine at XOYO London

Re:Imagine at XOYO. Photo: Justin de Souza

Re:Imagine bring a full 16 piece orchestra to XOYO nightclub in Shoreditch for live performances of landmark albums from Daft Punk’s seminal electro dance album Homework to Kanye Wests’s debut The College Dropout and follow up My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy to Dr. Dre's 2001 . In April, the all star group of musicians and vocalists will try their hands at Kendrik Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City. Each rendition is fully produced with accompanying visual projections and full light show. Each of these artists’ approach to hip-hop and electro music was revolutionary, and Re:Imagine Orchestra is following suit, bringing live music to a new age.

Re:Imagine are at XOYO 8, 15, 17, 24, 31 March and 1, 5, 7, 28 April

Shoreditch Treehouse

Debut Opera at Shoreditch Treehouse. Photo by Sofia Yang Martinez

This urban, bohemian loft in the heart of one of London's trendiest areas is an intimate music venue with a fully equipped kitchen, hundreds of fairy lights and a majestic Steinway concert piano. Every Sunday evening, they present a classical music concert with humour, charm and prosecco, where you can sit back on a beanbag and enjoy awe-inspiring voices and multi-award winning instrumentalists in a relaxed and friendly setting. Each week, different performers will share outstanding music and intriguing insights into their lives at some of the world’s greatest music conservatoires, West End musicals and major Opera productions. During the break, you can grab a drink, chat to the performers or hop on the Concert Steinway yourself.

Debut Treehouse Sundays are £25

Pet Shop Boys at the Royal Opera House

Pet Shop Boys (c) Royal Opera House

Award-winning electronic pop duo Pet Shop Boys have been at the forefront of British pop music for over 30 years. They return to the Royal Opera House for four very special performances of the show Inner Sanctum, two years after their debut performances sold out in record time. Staged by long-term collaborators designer Es Devlin and choreographer/director Lynne Page and specially created for the Royal Opera House, expect a vivid, laser-laden spectacular taking in everything from rotating, multi-coloured pods, a swarm of futuristic aliens, a flood of colourful inflatables and people dancing in their seats. Affected, moving, colourful and flat out fun, this should be quite a spectacle, showing that

pop music and high art cannot only co-exist but together reach new heights.

Inner Sanctum by the Pet Shop Boys is at the Royal Opera House 25-28. Tickets £35-£110

Philip Glass - The Bowie Symphonies

Philip Glass and David Bowie ca. 1993

Bowie and Glass

Minimalist music guru Philip Glass, maybe the most important living contemporary composer of our time, had written two symphonies in the 90s that reimagine the first two albums of David Bowie’s Berlin trilogy, Low and Heroes. The albums that Bowie recorded with Brian Eno in 1976 experimented with sound, aleatoric techniques, Krautrock influences and synthesizers. Glass describes his Low Symphony as ‘a real collaboration’ between his music and the work of Bowie and Eno. Bowie and Glass had discussed a third symphony before his death, and now, finally, the work has been realised. The Southbank Centre will host the European premiere of the Bowie Symphonies performed by a trail-blazing new music ensemble, the London Contemporary Orchestra, with innovative organist James McVinnie, in a tribute to the chameleon genius of pop mastermind David Bowie.

Philip Glass - The Bowie Symphonies is at the Royal Festival Hall 9 March. Tickets £20-55