Where To Hear Classical Music In London

By Jessica Bailey Last edited 12 months ago
Where To Hear Classical Music In London

You want to listen to classical music in London, but where to go?

Whether it's catching performances of the world's most famous composers by the world's greatest musicians, hearing work by cutting edge composers, or just seeing some free classical music, London is packed with opportunities.

From Wigmore Hall and the Royal Albert Hall, the Royal Opera House and Cadogan Hall, to places you probably wouldn't have thought about such as Rough Trade Records and Wilton's Music Hall, here are the best places to watch classical music in London.

Central London

Wigmore Hall

Wigmore Hall

Undoubtedly the daddy of fine London classical venues, this hallowed institution embraces all: newcomers and aficionados alike — from discounted concerts for children, free tickets for 6-25 year olds or a Coffee Concert on a Sunday, it has your classical needs covered. Plus it's not bad-looking either. Wigmore Hall, 36 Wigmore Street, W1U 2BP

St James's Church, Piccadilly

Based off the bustle of Piccadilly Circus and Leicester Square, St James's offers a wide range of classical performances and free lunchtime organ recitals for a bit of solace in the middle of the West End. Respected ensembles and concert pianists also visit for evening performances ranging from £12-£28. St James's Piccadilly, 197 Piccadilly, W1J 9LL

St Paul’s Church, Covent Garden

Mirroring the famous Covent Garden market is the lovely St Paul's, or as it’s known in the industry, The Actor’s Church. This atmospheric space offers free organ recitals and choral performances any day of the week, with donations gratefully accepted. The best time is after sunset when they get the candles out. St Paul's Church, Bedford Street, WC2E 9ED

Royal Opera House, Covent Garden

Royal Opera House
Photo by Craig Morey from the Londonist Flickr pool.

Possibly the most famous music venue in London is admittedly in the higher price range (although you can get certain tickets for under £10) but it does allow you to see some of the best musical performances the world has to offer — and to sit on the terrace overlooking the plaza. It's not just for classical and opera — the Pet Shop Boys and Ben Folds have performed in this hallowed venue too. One for the bucket list. Royal Opera House, Bow Street, Covent Garden

Handel House Museum

Just off Oxford Street is the place Handel settled down for the rest of his life in London. His old Harpsichord is still in situ and Handel fans are regularly treated to performances, with vocalists and chamber ensembles starting at £10. Handel & Hendrix in London, 5 Brook Street, W1K 4HB

St Martin-in-the-Fields

St Martin in the fields
Photo by Dave Pearce from the Londonist Flickr pool.

Catch free choral performances and established ensembles in the church and its atmospheric crypt. With a programme that features sacred music as well as premieres, ticketed concerts start at around £9. St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JH

Inside Covent Garden Market

Quintets, sextets, aspiring sopranos and tenors often regale the crowds in the market at Covent Garden. You know you wanna listen. Donations welcome! Covent Garden, WC2E

West London

Royal Albert Hall

Photo by David G from the Londonist Flickr pool.

Another big hitter and major player in the classical world that — surprise of surprises — stays open between Proms. Enjoy a bit of finery with Free Friday Music events, Classical Coffee mornings or take in a recital in the Elgar Room. Far from an intimidating place, learn why the architect insisted on a spherical shape in situ. Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP

Royal Academy of Music

Just a short walk from Baker Street, and a few doors down from Madame Tussauds, see some of the country's stars of tomorrow in one of London’s oldest and most respected music academies — for free. Here you can see lunchtime concerts of chamber music, finalists of the famous Yehudi Menuhin competition or just an evening in the company of fresh talent and classical music. Royal Academy of Music, Marylebone Road, NW1 5HT

Institut Français

A stone's throw from the South Kensington museums this sanctuary for all things French pays regular homage to a legion of French musical heritage from Debussy to Chopin. Its yearly It’s All About Piano festival pulls in some big names like Alexei Lubimov and Joanna MacGregor at great prices and also offers tuition, workshops and talks. Institut Francais, 17 Queensberry Place, London SW7 2DT

South London

Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral
Southwark Cathedral. Photo by Dave Pearce from the Londonist Flickr pool.

When you're done with your lunchtime Borough Market burrito, why not pop in for a free organ recital. Or pop back after work to catch a large-scale symphonic concert or choral music in one of central London’s grandest surroundings. Cool people do it. Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, SE1 9DA

Southbank Centre

Sitting in illustrious company on the South Bank, the Southbank Centre has managed to maintain its 1950s pedigree and reputation for pulling in big names through a major renovation. Alongside national orchestras of many countries around the globe and world famous performers, the hall celebrates just about any form of music for great prices. There’s always something going on in the foyers and children are well catered for with masterclasses and interactive sessions. Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX

Cadogan Hall

Cadogan Hall

Another renowned central London hall for classical music, there is always a wide choice of artists to hear from at a range of prices. Watch the likes of the London Chamber Orchestra or one-offs from pianists such as Japan’s respected Ingrid Fuzjko — all averaging between £25-£50. Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, SW1X 9DQ

Blackheath Halls, Trinity College

Much like the Royal Academy, Trinity College is another institution responsible for new generations of classical music talent — and this is where they congregate to share their skills. Kids Opera and Sunday morning concerts are regular fixtures. Blackheath Halls, Trinity, 23 Lee Road, SE3 9RQ

King Charles Court, Old Royal Naval College

Another platform for free student concerts by Trinity students, this time in the Old Royal Naval College — now the University of Greenwich — and their stunning Great Hall. Finer surroundings, you could not ask for. Trinity Laban Concerts, SE10 9JF

St Anne's Church, Wandsworth

St Anne's Church Wandsworth
St Anne's Wandsworth. Photo by Steve Keiretsu from the Londonist Flickr pool.

This local church is intimate and yet welcoming, with regular slots for the Wimbledon Choral Society, the South West London Choral Society, recitals, and of course, mass. An understanding of where these pieces of music would have played and originated from makes for a unique musical experience. St Anne's Wandworth, 182 St Anne’s Hill, Wandsworth, SW18 2RS

North London

Kings Place

Nestled by the new development of King's Cross and St Pancras International stations, this relatively new build is fresh and modern, and the programme reflects this. See everything from performances by the likes of The Orchestra Of The Age of Enlightenment, to big draws like James Rhodes. All usually under the £20 mark. Kings Place, 90 York Way, N1 9AG

St Pancras New Church

St Pancras New Church.

Another oasis in the middle of the city (or Euston Road to be more precise), this parish church also doubles up as a regular spot to catch some great one-off performances. Unlike the formality of a concert hall, a church in the lunch break is a real opportunity to fully engage with the music. With a schedule of everything from Ravel to Mozart, on a varied range of instruments and a regular roster of performances, the suggestion of a retiring collection for performers is a small price to pay. St Pancras Parish Church, Euston Road, NW1 2BA

The Parish Church of St John-at-Hampstead

A stone's throw from Hampstead station, this would purport to be a common-or-garden parish church, but a single month's programme boasts choral and organ recitals galore. St John's Hampstead, Church Row, NW3 6UU

The Roundhouse

Though miles and centuries apart, the Royal Albert Hall shares something in common with this cool Camden venue: the circumference of their spaces allow for near-perfect acoustics that make any classical performance imposing yet intimate. Pair this with the likes of Ludovico Einaudi or Khatia Buniatishvili, and get to see and hear masters at work wherever you stand. Roundhouse, NW1 8EH

King's Cross station

Pop down to the pop up pianos and serenade/be serenaded by commuters and visitors alike.

East London

Wilton’s Music Hall

Photo: Wilton's Music Hall.

Recently revamped and taken well and truly off the theatre buildings at-risk register, this historic hall mixes its heritage with new and exciting experimental classical performances, and it hosts transfers of operas. A place to watch. Wilton's, Graces Alley, E1 8JB

Bishopsgate Institute

Based just off London’s famous Spitalfields Market, Bishopsgate Institute has its heart firmly set in the local landscape with family events and musical workshops throughout the year. They have also just appointed their orchestra in residence: the London Musical Theatre Orchestra. Just imagine the fun that could be had with that. Bishopsgate Institute 230 Bishopsgate, EC2M 4QH

Rough Trade East

That’s right, even trendy Brick Lane embraces classical music. Well, a version of it — Chilly Gonzales, composer of new age classical is a regular to the makeshift stage in this hip performance space/music shop.

Rough Trade East 91 Brick Lane, E1 6QL

The Barbican Centre

A long established hub of classical music, the Barbican Hall has seen many greats pass through its doors. In more recent years however, experimental artists have rocked the venue and the centre itself, with themed festivals and regular family concerts and festivals, this venue is truly dedicated to the celebration of classical music. Barbican, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS

Guildhall School of Music and Drama

The newest addition to the Guildhall campus, Milton Court boasts two fairly large theatres, and a full to bursting programme that includes free student showcases, with their Rising Stars concerts at £10, to established talent visiting the school. Guildhall of Music and Drama, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DT

St Stephen Walbrook Church

That little church you hurry by on the way to Cannon Street? It looks like a typical Wren creation, but this has something to set it apart: a font created by Henry Moore. On Friday afternoons at 12.30pm you can pop in for a free organ recital. St Stephen Walbrook, 39 Walbrook, EC4N 8BN

St Leonard's Shoreditch

Another church and performance space, St Leonard's often hosts the BBC Symphony Chorus performers and local choirs, offering a diverse range musical experiences, St Leonard's Church, 119 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6JN

Walthamstow Assembly Hall

A heritage house on the site of the Waltham Forest, this art deco art space stages musical events all year round, ranging from classical to jazz. Walthamstow Assembly Hall, Town Hall, Forest Road, E17 4JF

Last Updated 22 August 2021