Guide to Classical Music in London

One of the most exciting things about studying at the School is getting to spend time living in London, where any interest can be followed. In this blog, MSc Public Health student Mounika Parimi shares her passion for London’s classical music scene.

The perfect break from my studies at the School is to get lost in London’s classical music experiences. There are several venues walking distance from the School that provide fantastic opportunities for students interested in listening to world-class classical music. Below, I outline a few favorite venues and the best ticket deals you can receive.

Royal Albert Hall: Depending on when you get here over the summer, the BBC proms, a series of eight weeks of fabulous orchestral music, will be playing every night of the week. When recording the proms, the BBC wants to make sure that every seat is filled in the hall. Therefore, they give away remaining, unpurchased seats for only £5 on the day of performance! A very London thing to do is to queue outside the hall a couple of hours before the performance starts to get a great ticket deal! You will truly feel like a Londoner and also have the chance to be on TV!

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Opera House
: A 15-minute walk from campus, the Royal Opera House puts on several classical ballets and operas. If you book early enough, there are several cheap seats available, especially for students (as cheap as £9). Additionally, every Friday at 1:00 pm the opera house releases 49 tickets for every performance for the subsequent week. You have to be very quick to snatch these tickets, but you can get tickets for as cheap as £11 through Friday Rush!

Royal Opera House

Royal Opera House

Southbank Centre:
This is probably my favorite venue. It is a cultural center along the Thames on the south bank, with several spaces dedicated for artistic exploration and for the community of London to enjoy. There are several free events for free put on by the center. They are also one of the homes of the London Philharmonic Orchestra (LPO). The Southbank Centre has several 50% concession seats available for every performance. With the concession, you can watch world class performances by the LPO and other orchestras for as cheap as £7!

Southbank Centre

Southbank Centre

Barbican Center:
Another cultural center of London combining spaces for visual art, dance, theatre, and music. If you are under 25 years old, you can sign up as a young Barbican member to get cheap tickets and other fantastic deals.

Sadler Wells Theatre: Located in the Angel area, Sadler Wells is an unassuming theatre where the English National Ballet performs quite often. If you book early, you will be able to get cheap tickets. However, the theatre has a few tickets that they are only allowed to sell over the phone, so by calling them, you will be able to bag a cheap ticket for world class premiers of ballets for only £11!

St. Paul’s Cathedral: The St. Paul’s Cathedral choir is world renowned. You are able to enjoy the pristine sound of the young boys’ choir and other choirs at St. Paul’s through their different musical offerings and services throughout the year. Watch their website for updates of choral music offerings, especially around Christmas and Easter. Enjoying glorious choral music in the acoustics of St. Paul’s is certainly a special London treat!

One way to stay on track with classical music performances in London is to download the app Student Pulse. This app will keep you updated on several orchestral and chamber music concerts in London from 9 different venues, and allow you to purchase cheap tickets ranging from £4- £10 with just a click of a button.

London makes classical music and culture in general accessible and affordable for students and young people. Even if most of the cheap tickets for a performance is sold out, calling the box-office is always a good idea. Often there are return tickets, or other seats that are only available over the phone. Even if no tickets are available at the moment, the box-office staff can usually advice you on the best way to get a cheap ticket.

Studying at the School can be stressful and intense. Taking a break and treating yourself with a world class concert with a very cheap ticket once in a while, not only gives you a break from your studies, but also immerses you into the musical culture of London! Enjoy the tips, and happy listening!

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