Amplifying the next generation of creators, we host May’s edition of Out-Spoken, a vibrant poetry and gig night with live music that champions diversity of voice in poetry. New work commissioned includes a first-of-its-kind concerto by Abel Selaocoe and Seckou Keita, merging the sound-worlds of Western Africa, Southern Africa and Europe. The European Poetry Festival sees new collaborative work commissioned with Latvian and British poets, showcasing the cross-lingual potential of 21st-century European poetry.
New ways of experiencing classical music includes the Divergent Sounds project on neurodiversity, Scriabin’s Prometheus & Rachmaninov’s The Bells illustrating synaesthesia and FUNHarmonics’ interactive concerts for families. Sir Michael Morpurgo joins resident artist Daniel Pioro for the final concert of his residency, featuring new texts interspersing Vivaldi’s Four Seasons.
Throughout May, enjoy visual art with the acclaimed survey of internationally renowned British artist Mike Nelson: Extinction Beckons in the Hayward Gallery, as well as Aladdin Sane: 50 Years in the Royal Festival Hall, delving into the iconic ‘lightning bolt’ image of David Bowie by Brian Duffy.
ART & EXHIBITIONS | ALADDIN SANE: 50 YEARS EXHIBITION
Thursday 6 April – Sunday 28 May. Exhibition Space, Level 1, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £5
Fifty years on from the release of David Bowie’s album, this exhibition delves into the creation of its iconic ‘lightning bolt’ cover portrait by Brian Duffy. For the album Aladdin Sane, the creativity of Bowie’s music was matched by an extraordinary image on the cover, photographed by Duffy (1933 – 2010). With a focus on the photo session that gave us Bowie’s ‘lightning bolt’ portrait, this exhibition explores the continuous reshaping of Bowie’s image, and his part, along with Duffy’s, in a reimagining of sexual and gender identity.
ART & EXHIBITIONS | FREE PROGRAMME | NEW HEATHEN ARCHIVES
Thursday 6 April – Saturday 27 May, Mon & Tue: 10am – 6pm, Wed – Sun: 10am – 11pm. Closed 9 – 10 April, Archive Studio, Level 2, Royal Festival Hall. Free.
Retrace David Bowie’s long history of appearances at the Southbank Centre and behind-the-scenes stories of his memorable performances across our site in this free display of never-before-seen archive material. From his Southbank Centre debut in 1969 in the recently opened Purcell Room, to his curation of Meltdown, our annual contemporary music festival, in 2002, Bowie has had a storied and rich history with the Southbank Centre.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | AMERICAN RHAPSODY
Wednesday 5 April, 7.30pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed at £15 – £50. For ages 7+
Aurora Orchestra roams from the mountains of Appalachia to the mean New York streets of West Side Story in a virtuosic American programme. Welcoming regular collaborator Tom Poster on piano, this all-American programme showcases the dazzling musicianship of one of our newest Resident Orchestras.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | FREE PROGRAMME | PHILHARMONIA CHAMBER PLAYERS: TCHAIKOVSKY
Thursday 4 May, 6pm, Royal Festival Hall. Free. For ages 7+.
Members of the Philharmonia Orchestra perform Tchaikovsky’s heartbreaking Piano Trio, written as a eulogy, in a free concert.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | STEPHEN HOUGH PLAYS BEETHOVEN
Thursday 4 May, 7.30pm, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £15 – £70. For ages 7+.
Sir Stephen Hough, Knighted in 2022 for Services to Music, plays Beethoven’s stormy Third Piano Concerto with the Philharmonia Orchestra, ahead of Nielsen’s glorious evocation of ‘the spirit of life’.
FAMILY AND YOUNG PEOPLE | FREE PROGRAMME | RUG RHYMES
Friday 5 and Friday 19 May, 11.30am, National Poetry Library, Level 5, Blue Side. Free and unticketed. For ages 0-5.
What rhymes with rug? National Poetry Library puppets Federico and Firebird can’t wait to tell you with their session of nursery rhymes, poems and rhyming stories.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | ABOMINATION: A DUP OPERA
Friday 5 – Sunday 7 May, Fri-Sat at 8pm, Sun at 6pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed at £12.50 – £35. For ages 12+.
Fusing opera with drag, cabaret and political satire, acclaimed composer Conor Mitchell and the Belfast Ensemble present their award-winning verbatim opera.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | HYMN OF THE FORESTS
Saturday 6 May, 7.30pm. Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £14 – £65. For ages 7+.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra ends the season with a colossal shout of joy: Janáček’s Glagolitic Mass. Edward Gardner prepares the way with Mendelssohn’s beloved Violin Concerto, performed by Alina Ibragimova, before assembling vast forces to end the season with a colossal shout of joy. But first, on the day of King Charles III’s coronation, we open with Tippett’s Suite for the Birthday of Prince Charles.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | FREE PROGRAMME | MUSIC OF TODAY: COMPOSERS’ ACADEMY
Sunday 7 May, 6pm, Royal Festival Hall. Free. For ages 7+.
Be the first to hear new music by this year’s cohort of participants in the Philharmonia Orchestra’s Composers’ Academy. Over the last nine months, the composers have worked with the Philharmonia players, composer Christian Mason and Anna Clyne, the Orchestra’s Featured Composer. Today their pieces are brought to life – come and support them, and experience the cutting edge of classical music.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | YAMADA CONDUCTS SAINT-SAËNS’ ORGAN SYMPHONY
Sunday 7 May, 7.30pm, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £10 – £65. For ages 7+.
When the Royal Festival Hall organ plays with the full Philharmonia Orchestra, it’s something you experience not just with your ears but with your whole body. Let the sound fill you from top to toe as the Philharmonia performs Saint-Saëns’ Organ Symphony, which he considered his finest work.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | RPO JOURNEYS OF DISCOVERY: PSYCHEDELIA
Wednesday 10 May, 7.30pm, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £10 – £50.
A fantastical world of dreams and nightmares; the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra blows open the doors of perception with music. Jennifer Higdon’s blue cathedral is a deeply moving aural experience. Prokofiev’s Second Violin Concerto has deeply romantic melodies and the youthful energy of ballet. Berlioz’ zany Symphonie fantastique is equally unpredictable, hallucinatory, even unhinged at times. The work’s protagonist has been spurned by the woman he adores and so chases her in a series of dreams that get ever more desperate, capturing gentle yearning to feverish, overwhelming passion.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | PAVEL KOLESNIKOV & SAMSON TSOY: SYMPHONIC DANCES
Wednesday 10 May, 7.30pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed at £15 – £45. For ages 7+.
Plunge into the kaleidoscopic colours of Rachmaninov and Prokofiev with the London-based piano duo of Pavel Kolesnikov and Samson Tsoy. Prokofiev’s Cinderella is a perennial favourite for ballet fans the world over. Written in the same year, Rachmaninov’s Symphonic Dances was envisioned as a score for an abstract ballet.
LITERATURE & SPOKEN WORD | FREE PROGRAMME | EUROPEAN POETRY FESTIVAL: LATVIAN POETRY
Wednesday 10 May, 8pm, National Poetry Library, Royal Festival Hall. Free. For ages 16+.
The UK’s biggest celebration of continental poetry, the European Poetry Festival returns to the National Poetry Library for its sixth year. Supported by Latvian Literature, this event sees three of Latvia’s most dynamic writers perform, new collaborations with British counterparts made and the cross-lingual potential of 21st-century European poetry.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | SCRIABIN’S PROMETHEUS & RACHMANINOV’S THE BELLS
Thursday 11 May, 7.30pm, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £10 – £65. For ages 7+.
Most of us will never know what it’s like to have synaesthesia – where two senses, in Scriabin’s case hearing and sight, are linked. The Philharmonia Orchestra recreates Scriabin’s Prometheus: The Poem of Fire, complete with the colours he saw when he heard different sounds. As well as solo piano, organ, chorus and an array of percussion, the score contains a part for ‘colour organ’, indicating the colours that should flood the concert hall at each key moment in the music.
LITERATURE & SPOKEN WORD | OUT-SPOKEN: MAY
Thursday 11 May, 7.30pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed at £12. For ages 16+.
In what is becoming a yearly tradition, Out-Spoken jumps to a bigger venue – the Queen Elizabeth Hall – for its trademark monthly blend of brilliant poetry and performance. As ever, TS Eliot and Polari Prize winner Joelle Taylor hosts, with Sam ‘Junior’ Bromfield spinning the best in reggae, soul and R&B throughout the evening. Line up to be announced.
LITERATURE & SPOKEN WORD | GRANTA BEST OF YOUNG BRITISH NOVELISTS
Thursday 11 May, 7.45pm. Purcell Room, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Tickets £12.
For four consecutive decades since 1983, Granta has introduced the brightest stars in the British literary scene. Showcasing an incredible array of talent, ranging from newcomers to already acclaimed writers, the Best of Young British Novelists series has consistently recognised the outstanding fiction writers of each generation. The selection of the next 20 exceptional young writers is announced in April 2023. A panel of writers connected to the series join us to discuss what is shaping the next generation of outstanding British voices. Line-up to be announced.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | ABEL SELAOCOE, SECKOU KEITA & CHINEKE! ORCHESTRA
Friday 12 May, 7pm, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £15 – £65. For ages 7+.
Abel Selaocoe and Seckou Keita join compositional forces for the first time to write a new concerto for cello, kora and orchestra. The first of its kind, this concerto merges the sound-worlds of Western Africa, Southern Africa and Europe, immersing the listener in an exploration of the interplay and soundscapes between the cello and kora. Seloacoe/Keita’s Double Concerto is co-commissioned by Orchestre national de Bretagne, Ulster Orchestra and the Southbank Centre.
DEBATE | LITERATURE & SPOKEN WORD | CAN WE HAVE PROSPERITY WITHOUT GROWTH?
Friday 12 May, 7.30pm. Queen Elizabeth Hall. Tickets £15 & £25. For ages 16+.
A debate panel presented by the Southbank Centre and Intelligence Squared, in which leading experts debate current issues with international perspectives. As the UK and other countries around the world grapple with a bleak economic forecast and the creeping effects of climate change, this event asks; What is a prosperous society? And how important is economic growth in reaching it? Arguing on the debate panel is; Bim Afolami MP, Conservative MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Renewable and Sustainable Energy and author of Unlocking Britain: Recovery and renewal after COVID-19; Kate Raworth, economist, co-founder of Doughnut Economics Action Lab and Senior Associate at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute; Helen Thompson, Professor of Political Economy at Cambridge University and author of Disorder: Hard Times in the 21st Century.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | FAMILY AND YOUNG PEOPLE | OAE TOTS: LPO FUNHARMONICS – FLYING HIGH IN THE SKY!
Saturday 13 May, 10.15am, 11.15am & 12.15pm, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £9 (adults), £2 (children) – £65. For ages 2 – 5. All children must be accompanied by an adult.
Let your little ones’ imaginations take flight in an interactive music workshop with musicians from the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. These workshops run alongside the London Philharmonic Orchestra’s FUNharmonics Family Concerts, which provide an opportunity for younger family members to join in with the musical fun – May’s edition is Before the Firebird.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | FAMILY AND YOUNG PEOPLE | FUNHARMONICS FAMILY CONCERT: BEFORE THE FIREBIRD
Saturday 13 May, 12 noon, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £16 – £24. For ages 7+.
In an interactive concert for families, the London Philharmonic Orchestra weaves a spellbinding story inspired by Stravinsky’s masterpiece. The traditional story of the Firebird tells of a Prince, a magical bird, and their battle to defeat an evil sorcerer and release 13 captive sisters. But just how did these brave sisters end up under King Katschei’s spell in the first place? Join us for participatory music and compelling storytelling with Composer Paul Rissmann and librettist Hazel Gould’s new prequel.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | MANCHESTER COLLECTIVE & SEAN SHIBE
Saturday 13 May, 5pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed at £10 – £35. For ages 7+.
These boundary-breaking artists collaborate for the first time in a show that takes in a dizzying range of music, including new works by Kelly Moran and Emily Hall. From La Folia, the original Baroque smash hit, to the spiritual music of Julius Eastman, all the way to David Lang’s hot, heavy and hard-hitting Killer. Manchester Collective is a Southbank Centre Resident Artist.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | DIVERGENT SOUNDS
Sunday 14 May, 4pm & 7pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed at £1 – £10. For ages 7+. This event is British Sign Language interpreted (BSL). A recording will be available to watch after the performance.
Amble Skuse’s soundscapes, played by City of London Sinfonia, build on conversations with neurodivergent people, focus groups and a steering panel to explore neurodivergent perceptions and experiences. The Divergent Sounds project explores ways in which neurodivergent people’s brains may work differently, and the strengths and challenges that come with being neurodivergent in a neurotypical world. In collaboration between King’s College London and City of London Sinfonia.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | CORINTHIAN ORCHESTRA PERFORMS MAHLER 5
Wednesday 17 May, 7.30pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed at £15 – £22.
The Corinthian Orchestra returns to the Queen Elizabeth Hall for their annual visit, and this season’s programme includes two iconic 20th-century pieces. Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs, which portray intensely moving poems contemplating autumn, sunset and sleep, is followed by Mahler’s Symphony No.5 which takes you on a journey of midnight storms, joyous horn-calls and the tender love letter Adagietto.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | BUDAPEST FESTIVAL ORCHESTRA: MAHLER 9
Wednesday 17 May, 7.30pm, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £15 – £65. For ages 7+.
Iván Fischer conducts his Budapest Festival Orchestra in a work both tragic and life-affirming, unique in its power, wisdom and sincerity – Gustav Maher’s Ninth Symphony. Mahler was consciously bidding a farewell, at least to life as he knew it, following the death of his daughter, Maria Anna, and facing serious heart disease himself. There is a valedictory quality to this music that is simultaneously tragic and life-affirming: a work unique in its power, wisdom and sincerity.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | MOZART ON THE ROAD: PART 2
Thursday 18 May, 7pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed at £10 – £82. For ages 7+.
The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment follows in the footsteps of CPE Bach, JC Bach and Mozart: composers who left home to find their own voices. Each of the four pieces tell the story of how the composers became agents of change in their new havens.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | SANTTU CONDUCTS STRAVINSKY I: THE FIREBIRD
Thursday 18 May, 7.30pm, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £15 – £70. For ages 7+.
Santtu-Matias Rouvali begins a two-concert focus on Stravinsky and Prokofiev with music from Stravinsky’s first major ballet, The Firebird, and a fiendish piano concerto, Prokofiev’s Piano Concerto No.2. Full of savage energy, it makes huge technical demands of its soloist, but is in the more-than-capable hands of Behzod Abduraimov.
LITERATURE & SPOKEN WORD | INTERNATIONAL BOOKER PRIZE SHORTLIST READINGS
Thursday 18 May, 7.30pm. Queen Elizabeth Hall. Tickets £15. For ages 16+. This event is Speech-to-Text transcribed (STT).
The finest fiction from across the globe is under the spotlight in this annual event.
The International Booker Prize introduces the finest fiction from across the globe, and celebrates the ingenuity and imagination of writers and their translators. The prize celebrates novelists and short-story writers from around the world as well as the art of translation by shining a light on the best translated fiction. The winning author and translator share the £50,000 prize equally.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | UNCLASSIFIED LIVE: CURIOUSER AND CURIOUSER
Friday 19 May, 8pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed at £12 – £22.
Discover composers evading categorisation with the BBC Concert Orchestra, conductor André de Ridder and BBC Radio 3 host Elizabeth Alker. You’re invited to enjoy music that transcends genres, conjured up by the full forces of the orchestra in a live concert version of the BBC radio show, Unclassified. This selection of intriguing composers includes Welsh art-pop surrealist Cate le Bon, Qasim Naqvi, known to many as the drummer from Dawn of Midi and ambient composer Hinako Omori. In partnership with de Ridder and the BBC Concert Orchestra.
COMEDY | PHIL WANG: WANG IN THERE BABY!
Wednesday 12 – Sunday 15 April, 7.30pm and Sunday 16 April, 3pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed at £18 – £30. This event is British Sign Language interpreted (BSL).
Phil Wang’s brand new stand-up show, hot off the heels of his critically-acclaimed Netflix special, David Letterman appearance and role on Life & Beth with Amy Schumer. Phil Wang’s chatting race, family, nipples and everything else that’s been going on in his Philly little life to venues nationwide. Presented in association with Avalon.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | THE MUSIC OF ZIMMER VS. WILLIAMS
Saturday 20 May, 2.30pm, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £18.50 – £49.50. For ages 7+.
Be whisked away on epic adventures at a concert that spotlights unforgettable scores from two of the world’s greatest film composers; Hans Zimmer (The Lion King, Gladiator) and John Williams (the Star Wars series, Jaws). Relive the magic and power of their best scores at this event, where selections from these iconic scores are performed by the London Concert Orchestra with conductor Anthony Inglis. This dazzling show is back by popular demand following a sold out 2022 performance.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | HOLST: THE PLANETS
Saturday 20 May, 7.30pm, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £19.50 – £57.50.
Lift off with the Philharmonia Orchestra on a starry night filled with Holst’s planetary masterpiece and Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No.2, performed by Danny Driver.
GIGS | THE ANCHORESS
Saturday 20 May, 7.30pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed at £16.50 – £20.
Welsh producer and multi-instrumentalist Catherine Anne Davies is The Anchoress, known for her debut album Confessions of a Romance Novelist, one of The Guardian’s albums of the year, HMV’s Welsh Album of the Year and Best Newcomer at the PROG awards. Davies’ writing and engineering skills have made her one of the most interesting up-and-coming songwriters in the UK. She won the PRS Writer/Producer award in 2019 and has worked with artists including the London Philharmonic Orchestra, Nitin Sawhney, Ed Harcourt, Bernard Butler, Liam Howe (Jessie Ware, Marina) and Paul Statham (Kylie, Dido). Davies performed at Meltdown, curated by The Cure’s Robert Smith.
LITERATURE & SPOKEN WORD | OUT-SPOKEN MASTERCLASS: MAY
Sunday 21 May, 1pm, Sunley Pavilion, Level 3, Green Side, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £20. For ages 18+.
Our monthly three-hour poetry session, open to writers of all levels, gives you a chance to learn approaches and techniques from leading UK and US poets.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | DANIEL PIORO, MICHAEL MORPURGO & LONDON SINFONIETTA
Sunday 21 May, 4pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed at £15 – £45. For ages 7+.
The London Sinfonietta and violinist Daniel Pioro guide an exploration of time through music by Vivaldi and Grisey, featuring narration and specially created writing by author Michael Morpurgo. This concert focuses on our perceptions of time, through two very different yet complementary masterpieces; ‘nature time’ in Vivaldi’s iconic The Four Seasons and Gérard Grisey’s Vortex Temporum, a work that takes us through three time frames: ‘normal’, human time, the ‘expanded’ time of whales and the ‘compressed’ time of birds. Additional players to be announced.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | SANTTU CONDUCTS STRAVINSKY II: PETRUSHKA
Sunday 21 May, 7.30pm, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £15 – £70. For ages 7+.
Santtu-Matias Rouvali’s two-concert focus on Stravinsky and Prokofiev continues with the captivating ballet score Petrushka and Prokofiev’s First Violin Concerto. Violinist Esther Yoo brings what The Telegraph calls her ‘superb self-possession [and]… deep and penetrating tone’ to the solo part of the great 20th century violin concertos. The concerto balances lyricism and virtuosity with a darker edge – a hint of the turmoil and pain of the First World War and the impending Russian Revolution.
CLASSICAL MUSIC | INGRID FLITER PLAYS SCHUMANN
Wednesday 24 May, 7.30pm, Queen Elizabeth Hall. Ticketed at £15 – £45. For ages 7+.
Ingrid Fliter devotes her recital to the music of Robert Schumann, creating an evening of high-romantic intimacy, turbulence and triumph. His piano music often references his wife, the great pianist and composer Clara Wieck, while he looked back at his own tender memories for Kinderszenen – Scenes of Childhood. Filter’s set includes the celebrated piece Traümerei (Dreaming) and the Symphonic Etudes, a magnificent recital showpiece.
LITERATURE & SPOKEN WORD | SADIQ KHAN IN CONVERSATION: BREATHE
Wednesday 24 May, 7.30pm, Royal Festival Hall. Ticketed at £15, £25, £35. For ages 16+.
In a discussion on politics, life, and the future of our city and planet, Sadiq Khan celebrates the publication of his uplifting new book, Breathe. The first book from the Mayor of London, Breathe offers actions for tackling the climate crisis. In a rich discussion, Khan uses his story to identify how environmental action gets blown off course, and reveals how to get it back on track. Join Khan for this memorable evening and hear him demonstrate how anyone; whether voter, activist or politician; can win the argument on climate. It will help create a world where we can all breathe again. Presented in association with Penguin.