Mahan Esfahani

Classical Music Highlights: Acclaimed classical musicians from across the globe join us for Brighton Festival 2024

Classical, Announcements, Classical Music, Classical Music

Renowned and emerging classical composers, ensembles and musicians bring captivating adaptations, premieres and a little bit of humour to the historic Brighton Dome venues this May. 

A Grand Opening Weekend

Sir Antonio Pappano, photography: Musacchio & Ianniello licensed to EMI Classics

The London Symphony Orchestra opens the classical programme on 4 May in the Concert Hall with its new Chief Conductor,  multi award-winning Sir Antonio Pappano, plus prize-winning French pianist, Bertrand Chamayou. Expect the eloquent simplicity and lyricism of Barber’s Adagio for Strings, the whip-cracking wit and boisterous jazziness of Ravel’s Piano Concerto in G Major and Rachmaninov’s Second Symphony.

Be amazed at Glyndebourne on 5 May with harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani, the youngest ever winner of the Wigmore Hall Medal, who will be joined by a small ensemble of Britten Sinfonia players led by acclaimed violinist, Jacqueline Shave.

An Epic Poem, An Epic Concert

States Of Innocence

On 19 May, the newly refurbished Corn Exchange welcomes the premiere of award-winning, Brighton-based composer Ed Hughes’s new score, States of Innocence. Inspired by John Milton’s epic poem, Paradise Lost, the piece has been adapted by acclaimed librettist Peter Cant and commemorates 350 years since Milton’s death.

Royal Manchester College of Music’s Sir John Tomlinson will portray Milton himself, with prize-winning tenor Stuart Jackson in the role of Satan and mezzo soprano Rozanna Madylus as Eve. Renowned for his striking collaborations with composers, directors and choreographers, award-winning media and performance artist Ian Winters brings the story to life with immersive media projections.

Cutting-Edge Classical

12 Ensemble, photography: Raphael Neal

On 16 May, pioneering strings group 12 Ensemble perform Metamorphosis in the Corn Exchange; a programme ranging from Edmund Finnis' reworking of the William Byrd prayer For light within the darkness to an instrumental aria from Oliver Leith’s bleakly beautiful 2022 opera about Kurt Cobain.

Made specially for Brighton Festival, leading visual artist Ben Ditto will create an AI-generated holographic world live on stage during the performance.

On 9 May, International Baroque collective Solomon’s Knot celebrate three leading Baroque composers, all born in the same year. Class of 1685 boasts performances of Bach, Scarlatti and Handel, displaying their signature tight instrumental playing and accompanied by skilful vocal soloists, all merging to create a gripping ensemble. 

Danielle de Niese, photography: Chris Dunlop

Don’t miss ‘opera’s coolest soprano’ and Glyndebourne’s leading lady, Danielle de Niese, in an evening of song. Effortless in opera, musicals and in concert, Danielle will perform a roster featuring composers from Debussy to Sondheim. 

On 8 May in the Studio Theatre, sit back and enjoy the funny side of opera in What’s So Great About Opera?. Ridiculously tall, Grammy Award-winning Welsh contralto Hilary Summers and her shorter, long-suffering English pianist Andrew West form a comedic duo who perform renditions of both beloved arias from the classic canon and specially composed songs including Thoroughly Modern Hilly and I’m a Puccini Heroine Addict. The show climaxes with a jaw-dropping 25-minute one-woman reduction of Mozart’s The Magic Flute!

More Of Brighton’s Best

Heath Quartet

This year, Brighton Festival returns to the splendour of the Royal Pavilion Music Room with new music from the award-winning Heath Quartet on 22 May. Soak up pieces from Haydn and Dutch composer and pianist, Henriëtte Bosmans, in the first half, and works from 19th century Russian composer, Lyadov, plus a modernist 1945 quartet from Austrian-Jewish composer, Erich Wolfgang Korngold, in the second half. Each ticket includes an interval glass of wine in the dazzling Royal Pavilion Banqueting Room.

More Dates For The Diary

7-22 May – Lunchtime Concerts. Spotlighting classical stars of the future including Japanese pianist Shunta Morimoto, Glyndebourne Jerwood Young Artists and singers Hugh Cutting and Rebecca Leggett. Taking place in the Corn Exchange and Studio Theatre.

11 May - The Stranger. Brighton Festival Chorus present Grammy Award-nominee Norwegian composer Kim Andre Arnesen’s UK premiere. The piece highlights our common humanity through mixed media featuring a special centrepiece for the concert.

13 May - Brighton & East Sussex Youth Orchestra. Award-winning storyteller Alia Alzougbi tells tales from 1,001 Nights, followed by the young musicians’ performance of Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade suite. The concert features a performance from former orchestra member-turned-professional, Alan Thomas.

Explore the whole programme

Brighton Festival 2024