Summer 2021 Classical Concerts


The move back to social events and cultural activity can be a shock to the system - so what better way to relax and stretch your “going out” muscles than with a classical concert. Culture Calling round up some of summer’s highlights…

Marylebone Music Festival runs from 24-26 June in Manchester Square Gardens, which will be transformed into a covered (and well ventilated!) outdoor venue. There’s a mix of free and ticketed events - with the opening performance on Thursday 24 June at 2pm, by young musicians from the Royal Academy of Music, free for all to attend. Other highlights include Beethoven’s stirring Pastoral Symphony at 2pm on Saturday 26 June and Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf, conducted by none other than Sue Perkins, at a child-friendly time of 11am on Friday 25 June.


The following weekend sees the start of Spitalfields Music Festival, with various events and concerts taking place across East London from 1-11 July. Alicia Jane Turner’s promenade installation and musical performance a place to call home has caught our eye, performed twice daily on 3 and 4 July in a time-capsule of a flat from the 1800s, above The George Tavern pub. Here Alicia explores queer spaces throughout history - taking in important London sites of LGBTQ+ culture alongside contemporary online spaces - while examining the resilience of queer communities and the cultural and historical importance of safe spaces.

The biggest classical event in London’s calendar - the BBC Proms - takes place from 30 July - 11 September. While socially-distanced and online performances will of course make up a large part of the festival, there are nevertheless a whole heap of brilliant events to choose from. Highlights include South African cellist Abel Selacoe: Africa Meets Europe at the Royal Albert Hall on 15 August, where the pioneering cellist continues his boundary-pushing fusion of playing styles and techniques, and the now ubiquitous presence of contemporary arranger Jules Buckley who this year teams up with avant-garde songwriter Moses Sumney who performs songs from his catalogue of otherworldly pop compositions backed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Royal Albert Hall on 21 August.


It’s worth taking the trip outside of London to the confusingly titled Leeds Castle Concert (because Leeds Castle is actually in Kent) on September 4, where the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra will perform a varied programme of traditional favourites and new compositions. The concert takes place in a natural amphitheatre, situated just in front the Castle itself, and the gorgeous backdrop makes for a great family day out, with the annual Spitfire flyover and fireworks finale sure to entertain the little ones.

Looking ahead a little further, a much-delayed concert from Ólafur Arnalds on 24 September at the Eventim Apollo is a must-see for anyone with an interest in contemporary classical music. The Icelandic composer brings the latest chapter of his work to a close with this final series of concerts, and you can expect stirring synthesisers and pianos interacting with a string quartet, live percussion and his unique self-playing Stratus pianos to perform a selection of pieces from his deeply moving recent catalogue.

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