London’s Southbank Centre announces 2020/21 classical music season

21 February 2020
By Ellie Palmer
Plenty of previous Pianist cover stars feature during the season

Main image, from left to right: Víkingur Ólafsson (©Deutsche Grammophon), Yuja Wang (©Norbert Kniat), Daniel Barenboim (©Official Website), Mitsuko Uchida (©Justin Pumfrey), Eric Lu (©Columbia Artists), Steven Osborne (©Linlithgow Arts Guild).


Southbank Centre has announced a gigantic 2020/21 classical music season with over 230 concerts across Southbank Centre’s internationally renowned venues, Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and Purcell Room.

Gramophone Artist of the Year Víkingur Ólafsson, who is a Southbank Centre Artist Associate, is one the artists who will be leading the season.

Ólafsson’s repertoire will range across four centuries, from Rameau to new works.

It was the Icelandic pianist's early 2019 Bach release that caught the eye of Gramophone

Appearances include two piano recitals, his London Philharmonic Orchestra debut in Grieg’s Piano Concerto and a performance of Papillon by Bent Sørensen and a newly commissioned work by Edmund Finnis in a Philharmonia Music of Today early-evening concert. 

Ólafsson comments: ‘I admire people who keep an open ear, who challenge what they know about music and are not afraid to re-explore it. For me, there is no one way of doing things in music.

With this in mind, I am grateful to have the chance to perform on so many occasions in Southbank Centre's 20/21 season as an Associate Artist. Southbank Centre is always bursting with life and it will be exciting to build an even closer rapport with its wonderful audiences through programmes which I hope will be diverse and colourful.’


Daniel Barenboim will explore the complete Beethoven Piano Trios at the Royal Festival hall in January 2021 alongside violinist Michael Barenboim and cellist Kian Soltani.


Pianist cover stars aplenty

Eric Lu (Issue 106), Yuja Wang (Issue 105), Mitsuko Uchida (Issue 104) and Steven Osborne (Issue 74) are all due to make appearances throughout the season.

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Yuja Wang featured on the December 2018-January 2019 issue of Pianist

Yuja Wang has been handed the honour of opening the season on 24 September at Royal Festival Hall. Yuja will perform under the baton of the Southbank Centre’s Principal Conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen, who will be taking part in his 13th and final season.

Greek Myths will be the focus as Salonen will conduct Scriabin’s Prometheus: The Poem of Fire.


Mitsuko Uchida will be joined by the Mahler Chamber Orchestra (12 March 2021) as they continue their exploration of Mozart’s Piano Concertos with Piano Concerto No 18 in B flat, K.456, and No 21 in C, K.467.

Mitsuko Uchida featured on the cover of the October-November 2018 issue of Pianist

The pair’s recent performance together at Royal Festival Hall in early February was given five stars by both The Times and The Guardian; two historically tough critics.


Pianist Issue 106 star Eric Lu will make his International Piano Recital Series debut, where fellow pianists Imogen Cooper and Maurizio Pollini will also join.

The 2018 Leeds International Piano Competition winner appeared on the cover of the February-March 2019 issue of Pianist

The recital information for Steven Osborne, Yefin Bronfman and Gerard Aimontche will be released in due course.