Opera and Classical Music Venues

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Royal Opera House

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Royal Opera House
London Coliseum - English National Opera (ENO)
Wigmore Hall
Royal Albert Hall
Kings Place
Kings Place
Cadogan Hall
St Martin-in-the-Fields
St John's Smith Square
LSO St Luke's
LSO St Luke's
Blackheath Halls
Southbank Centre
Central Hall Westminster
Barbican Hall
St James's Church Piccadilly
 

© Will Pearson

London has a wealth of concert halls where you can here the best classical music and opera from all over the world, in venues as varied as the acoustically wonderful Wigmore Hall to the famous Royal Albert Hall where the Proms take place.

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Royal Opera House

Architecturally stunning home of The Royal Ballet and The Royal Opera.

Bow Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2E 9DD

Tube: Covent Garden Station , Leicester Square Station

 
 

This impressive building in the heart of Covent Garden has been playing host to major stars of the classical music world since 1858. The third theatre to be located on this site, today's Royal Opera House is the result of a reconstruction in the 1990s (although the main auditorium is part of the original building). It is a beacon of modern theatre design and the place to go for high quality performances in sumptuous surroundings. As one of London's most esteemed, iconic and beautiful performance venues, it's worth a visit even if you're not a ballet or opera fan. Before 1999 the theatre only opened its doors to ticket holders just before performances but today you can explore parts of the building for free during the day - the Paul Hamlyn Hall with its dramatic glass atrium is especially worth a peek. For smaller scale productions such as chamber opera and experimental dance shows there's the 400-seat Linbury Studio Theatre and the Clore Studio Upstairs holds an audience of 180 for more intimate events and performances.

 
 
 

London Coliseum - English National Opera (ENO)

Majestic West End theatre belonging to the English National Opera.

St Martin's Lane, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 4ES

Tube: Charing Cross Station , Leicester Square Station, Covent Garden Station, Embankment Underground Station

 
 

London Coliseum is a magnificent historic building and an excellent venue in which to enjoy the soaring sounds and high drama of some truly thrilling operas. This impressive theatre, which started its life as a venue for variety shows, is now - conversely - indistinguishable from its artistically first-class company in residence, the English National Opera. Back in 1904, impresario Oswald Stoll and architect Frank Matcham set out to build the largest and finest theatre in London and the Coliseum was indeed a striking addition to the city's entertainment scene, complete with electric lighting and a revolving stage. Having undergone an extensive restoration programme in 2000, specifically to accommodate the ENO, it remains one of the grandest theatres in the capital today. The splendour of the building is only matched by the quality of the performances that take place there. All ENO productions are sung in English as the voices of some of the world's most talented performers fill the auditorium night after night. The pre-eminence of the company also attracts a host of distinguished directors, designers and visiting troupes to stage dance, opera and circus under its famous proscenium arch, the largest in London.

 
 
 

Wigmore Hall

London's best venue for chamber and solo classical music attracts an excellent selection of international musicians.

36 Wigmore Street, Marylebone, London, W1U 2BP

Tube: Bond Street Station , Oxford Circus Station

 
 

Of all the concert venues in London, Wigmore Hall is the only one rated internationally for its acoustics so it's no surprise that this grandiose recital venue, built by the Bechstein piano company in 1901 in the centre of London, is regarded by many as London's best venue for chamber and solo performances. Wigmore Hall's renaissance materials - alabaster and marble - and the rectangular shape have given it a clear, clean acoustic that is a world away from the boom of the great domed concert halls. In the past it has attracted performances from Artur Schnabel, Pablo Sarasate, Percy Grainger, Myra Hess, Arthur Rubinstein and Camille Saint-Sans, and continues to draw an excellent selection of international musicians.

 
 
 

Royal Albert Hall

19th-century concert hall and home to the Proms.

Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London, SW7 2AP

Tube: South Kensington Station

 
 

Classical music, opera and the world-famous Proms series all take place within the Royal Albert Hall's iconic oval walls with the classical strains bouncing balls off the famous mushrooms on the ceiling. The brainchild of Prince Albert, inspired by the success of the Great Exhibition, the hall first opened in 1871, ten years after the Prince's death. Heavily influenced by ancient amphitheatres and notions of the 'Empire and the arts, the oval structure's terracotta walls are decorated on the outside with a frieze dedicated to "The Triumph of Arts and Sciences". Gas lighting, poor acoustics and old pipe organs have been replaced over the years and the awe-inspiring venue now exists as a testimony to both the architectural and aesthetic achievements of the past and the technological developments of the present - it now features the largest pipe organ in the British Isles. A Grade I listed building, the hall has a capacity of over 5000 and is most consistently packed out during the summer when the Promenade concerts (the full name for the Proms) take over. First held here in 1941 when their original venue - the Queen's Hall - was bombed, the Proms remain fantastically popular.

 
 
 

Kings Place

Just 150 metres from King's Cross and St Pancras stations and with a waterside setting, the Dixon-Jones designed Kings Place combines the offices of The Guardian newspaper with a concert hall and two art galleries.

90 York Way, King's Cross, London, N1 9AG

Tube: King's Cross Station

 
 

Just 150 metres from King's Cross and St Pancras stations and with a waterside setting, the Dixon-Jones designed Kings Place combines the offices of The Guardian newspaper with a concert hall and two art galleries. As you'd expect from the architects behind recent improvements to the Royal Opera House and National Portrait Gallery it's a well designed complex of curvaceous surfaces and appealing public spaces. The concert hall, London's first to be purpose-built since the Barbican Concert Hall over 25 years ago in 1982, includes a stunning wood-lined 420-seat auditorium. Two orchestras - the London Sinfonietta and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment - have set up their headquarters here, a place where they can rehearse and perform as well as teach music.

 
 
 
 

Cadogan Hall

Former church that is now the home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

5 Sloane Terrace, Belgravia, London, SW1X 9DQ

Tube: Sloane Square Station

 
 

Cadogan Hall opened its doors on 18th June 2004 with a surprising lack of fanfare. The former Church of Christ Scientist is now the home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the least elitist of London's major orchestras. The sheer walls and steep barrelled roof of the 900-seat auditorium give it a great acoustic: crisp, clear and VERY loud. Originally constructed in 1901, this is a lovely example of the Byzantine style of church-building, with a gorgeous Art Deco interior, that puts the bleak modernism of the RPO's former South Bank home to shame. Alongside the smaller Wigmore Hall, this has a claim to be London's most attractive dedicated classical music venue.

 
 
 

St Martin-in-the-Fields

Imposing church overlooking Trafalgar Square with vibrant music programme and pretty cafe in the crypt.

Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 4JJ

Tube: Charing Cross Station , Leicester Square Station, Embankment Underground Station, Covent Garden Station, Piccadilly Circus Station

 
 

This historic church of St Martin-in-the-Fields overlooking Trafalgar Square was built in 1726 and is the best known work of Scottish architect James Gibbs whose first public building was St Mary-le-Strand. The Palladian features of St Martin-in-the-Fields reveal the influence of Gibbs' training under the leading Roman architect of the time, Carlo Fontana. The church combines several roles: religious, charitable and musical with candle-lit concerts held from Thursday to Saturday, and free lunchtime recitals on Mondays, Tuesdays and Fridays. It also houses a gift shop, brass rubbing centre, art gallery and a courtyard as well as a glorious eaterie underneath the church - the atmospheric Cafe in the Crypt - where traditional roasts are served on a Sunday and jazz concerts take place on Wednesday nights. All profits go to support the work of the church, with its particular ministry to the homeless.

 
 
 

St John's Smith Square

Among the finest Baroque churches in London and a great chamber music venue.

Smith Square, Westminster, London, SW1P 3HA

Tube: St James's Park Station

 
 

Formerly a church, this stunning 18th century building was designed by architect Thomas Archer and now is a venue for concerts with a restaurant and bar in the crypt. With its four pillared towers, this Baroque masterpiece in a quiet square in Westminster was ruined by firebombing during World War II. The reconstruction was able to open out the interior a little, while retaining the booming acoustic, and it is now a hugely successful classical music venue with 800 or so seats, focused particularly on chamber and choral music. The lively programme of concerts includes baroque music and contemporary concerts. For anyone coming to London in November or December, in the months leading up to Christmas, and looking for first class choral music, this is the place to come.

 
 
 

LSO St Luke's

The Grade 1 listed Hawksmoor church on Old Street is home to the London Symphony Orchestra

161 Old Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1V 9NG

Tube: Old Street Station

 
 

This gorgeous 18th century Grade 1 listed Hawksmoor church is one of a number of London churches which has, in recent years, been converted into a concert venue where the acoustics have proved surprisingly good. LSO St Luke's has been restored to become the home of the London Symphony Orchestra's community and music education programme. Located on London's Old Street, EC1, this stylish and sophisticated venue plays host to a diverse selection of concerts and workshops, alongside LSO rehearsals. It is also available to hire for rehearsals, recordings and chamber music performances as well as a wide variety of corporate and private events.

 
 
 

St James's Church Piccadilly

St James's Church was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and opened in 1684.

197 Piccadilly, St James's, London, W1J 9LL

Tube: Piccadilly Circus Station , Green Park Station

 
 

St James's Church in Piccadilly, designed by Sir Christopher Wren and opened in 1684, includes a font, organ case and reredos by Grinling Gibbons while the poet William Blake was baptised at the church in 1757. There's a long association with music at this church; British orchestral conductor Leopold Stokowski, one of the leading conductors of the early and mid 20th century, best known for his long association with the Philadelphia Orchestra, was choirmaster from 1902 until 1905. The music programme continues to impress with free lunchtime recitals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday as well as an array of paid evening concerts. The London Festival Orchestra are residents and there's an antiques market on Tuesday and an arts and crafts market from Wednesday to Saturday.

 
 
 
 

Blackheath Halls

Beautiful Georgian building in the village of Blackheath.

23 Lee Road, London, SE3 9RQ

Tube: New Cross Station (East London line closed. Bus service operates)

 
 

Blackheath Halls, a beautiful Georgian building in the village of Blackheath in South East London, with its 600-seat great hall, 160-seat recital room and cafe bar, is home to Trinity Laban Music School. Built in 1895 by William Webster, Blackheath Halls, along with the Conservatoire of Music and the School of Art, claims to be part of the oldest surviving purpose built cultural complex in London. It was originally used as a venue for orchestral and choral works and played host to some of the most famous musical performers of the early 20th century. Saved from demolition in the 1980s, it fully reopened in 1991 and continues to this day as a notable venue for classical concerts as well as rock and pop performances, comedy acts, and family activities.

 
 
 

Royal Academy Of Music

The Royal Academy of Music, founded in 1822 as a bastion of musical excellence includes a school, library and museum as well as staging live concert performances.

Marylebone Road, Marylebone, London, NW1 5HT

Tube: Regent's Park Station , Baker Street Station

 
 

The Royal Academy of Music, founded in 1822 as a bastion of musical excellence includes a school, library and museum as well as staging live concert performances. The museum houses the academy's permanent collection of instruments and musical artefacts as well as running temporary exhibitions. The museum's building was designed by John Nash as part of the formal approach to Regent's Park and dates from 1823, the year when the Academy first admitted students. The Royal Academy's main concert hall, the Duke's Hall, was refurbished in the 1990s and seats around 400 people making is suitable for the daily rehearsals, orchestral and ensemble performances, masterclasses, and presentations for which it's used.

 
 
 

Southbank Centre: Royal Festival Hall

The heart of London's classical music scene is this huge concert hall.

Belvedere Road, South Bank, London, SE1 8XX

Tube: Waterloo Station , Embankment Underground Station

 
 

The Royal Festival Hall, one of the world's leading concert venues and the largest venue within the Southbank Centre, stands at the heart of the site. Over 150,000 hours of music have been performed at the Royal Festival Hall since its completion in 1951. Welcoming over three million visitors a year, the Royal Festival Hall is primarily a classical music venue. It's the home of the London Philharmonic Orchestra, London Philharmonia and four associate ensembles. It's also the site of the annual Meltdown Festival, hosts some London Jazz Festival concerts and offers free lunchtime music in the Central Bar of the Royal Festival Hall. At the Southbank Centre's Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Purcell Room you can also enjoy regular recitals, dance performances and choral concerts making this vast arts centre the place to go for hundreds of concerts from opera to contemporary music.

 
 
 

Barbican Hall

The Barbican Centre's immense concert hall plays hosts to classical, jazz and avant-garde music.

Silk Street, City, London, EC2Y 8DS

Tube: Barbican Station , Moorgate Station

 
 

Open 363 days a year, the Barbican Centre offers the most diverse music, theatre and arts programme of any London venue. As well as being home to the London Symphony Orchestra, in conjunction with the attractive local church of St Luke's, the giant and acoustically superb Barbican Hall attracts a host of international classical, jazz, rock, and world music stars. The building itself is a labyrinth and finding your route from the station or car park is an adventure in itself. Staircases twist around each other, directing lost patrons into mysteriously empty mezzanines, where odd snatches of music are the only guide back to the main lobby. The joy of coming across exhibitions, live music, or talks from a major arts celebrity in some odd corner of the building is a unique feature of this remarkable concentration of artistic talent. It also attracts a host of international classical, jazz, rock, and world music stars.

 
 
 

Central Hall Westminster

The Edwardian hall hosts regular performances by the London Symphony Orchestra.

Storey's Gate, Westminster, London, SW1H 9NH

Tube: St James's Park Station , Westminster Station

 
 

Combining its dual functions as an event / conference venue and a Methodist church, the imposing Central Hall Westminster also offers a busy programme of live music, including regular performances by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. It has also been host to pop and jazz musicians including American hip-hop artist Kanye West, Icelandic band Sigor Ross, and folk artist Laura Marling. The venue has an intimate atmosphere, despite the impressive capacity of over 2,000, an impressive domed ceiling and grand organ with over 4,600 pipes. The venue has a period feel to it and has featured in a number of films, including 'Calendar Girls' and 'Jekyll and Hyde'. Gandhi, Churchill and the Price of Wales have all spoken here and the hall also played host to the first General Assembly of the United Nations in 1946. Visitors curious about exploring the inside of this Edwardian structure can take a free guided tour, daily from 9.30am to 5pm.

 
 
 
 
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