Edinburgh’s iconic Usher Hall announces new Sunday Classics season

(From top left clockwise: Angela Hewitt, Thomas Sanderling, Yuri Temirkanov, Marat Bisengaliev)

(From top left clockwise: Angela Hewitt, Thomas Sanderling, Yuri Temirkanov, Marat Bisengaliev)

  • Edinburgh welcomes orchestras from across the world including the Symphony Orchestra of India, Japan Philharmonic and Russian Philharmonic with premiere conductors including Yuri Temirkanov, Martyn Brabbins and Thomas Sanderling.

Edinburgh’s iconic Usher Hall is pleased to announce its 2018/19 Sunday Classics programme. A much-loved and integral part of the venue’s year-round schedule, the Sunday Classics concert season runs from 14 October 2018 until 16 June 2019.

Some of the world’s finest international orchestras and soloists will flock to Edinburgh’s Usher Hall to take part in this concert series. The season kicks off in October, with a visit from the Russian State Symphony Orchestra and pianist Barry Douglas, whose interpretations of Russian music are renowned, to perform Shostakovich’s Piano Concerto No.2, while the Vienna Tonkunstler Orchestra also pay Usher Hall a visit with the dazzling Angela Hewitt later in the month for Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.5.

The final Sunday Classics concert in 2018 is set to be a very special afternoon of music with the War Horse: The Story in Concert – Centenary Concert.Narrated by War Horse author Michael Morpurgo and performed by the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the concert will commemorate 100 years since the end of the First World War.

The Usher Hall welcomes in the New Year with a visit from St Petersburg Philharmonic, the oldest orchestra in Russia. They bring with them the explosive pianist Freddy Kempf for Rachmaninov’s Piano Concerto No. 2. In February virtuoso violinist Marat Bisengaliev will perform Bruch’s Violin Concertoalongside The Symphony Orchestra of India, while at the beginning of April London’s historic Royal Philharmonic Orchestra takes to the stage for a diverse programme of Vaughan William’s Fantasia, Elgar’s Enigma Variations and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto performed by the phenomenal Pinchas Zukerman.

The Japan Philharmonic perform Beethoven’s Piano Concerto No.3 with John Lill, unanimously regarded one of the finest pianists in the world, on the keys as part of a varied afternoon of music on 14 April, and on 12 May YouTube pianist sensation Valentina Lisitsa makes a triumphant return to Sunday Classics with the Russian Philharmonic of Novosibirsk.

The final concert of the season takes place on 16 June with another special performance from the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Ben PalmerThe Planets – An HD Odyssey will awe the audience as Holst’s beautiful and mystical suite The Planets is performed by the RSNO while a film – created in collaboration with NASA and award winning producer/director Duncan Copp – is shown on the big screen.

This multimedia event features the latest high-definition planetary images from NASA’s exploration of the solar system, made more vivid alongside the orchestra’s performance of Holst’s The Planets and is preceded by other iconic classics synonymous with the theme of Space, including Strauss’s Blue Danube Waltz (featured in 2001: A Space Odyssey) and John Williams’s iconic Star Wars theme.

Now a well-established and much-loved part of the Usher Hall’s year-round programming, the Sunday Classics season brings the world’s finest orchestras to Edinburgh. The 2017-18 season brought the likes of the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Russian State Philharmonic and Mahler’s ‘Resurrection’ Symphony with Bruckner Orchester Linz to name but a few. The series also sees distinguished international soloist accompany the ensembles, with last season’s guests including classical YouTube sensation Valentina Lisitsa and arguably the world’s greatest living violinist, Maxim Vengerov.

Councillor Donald Wilson, Culture and Communities Convener, said: “Where better to enjoy a live symphony than a relaxing Sunday afternoon at the Usher Hall? Designed and built with classical music in mind over 100 years ago, the tradition of concert-going at Edinburgh’s most stunning indoor venue continues as strongly as ever.

“It’s a genuine pleasure to sit back in the impressive auditorium and lose yourself in the music, and this new programme of Sunday Classics will feature first-class orchestras from around the world outside the usual Festival period. Plus, with special rates for students and those out of work, and free tickets for under 16s, the Usher Hall is helping to make classical music accessible to all.”

Tickets go on sale Sunday 27 May.


Date:               Sunday 14 October 2018, 3pm

Orchestra:      Russian State Symphony Orchestra

Conductor:     Valentin Uryupin

Soloist:            Barry Douglas (piano)

Programme:   Tchaikovsky – Swan Lake Suite

Shostakovich – Piano Concerto No. 2

Rachmaninov – Symphony No. 2


Date:               Sunday 28 October 2018, 7.30pm

Orchestra:      Vienna Tonkünstler Orchestra

Conductor:     Yutaka Sado

Soloist:            Angela Hewitt (piano)

Programme:   Bernstein – On the Town: Three Dance Episodes from On the Town

Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 5

Sibelius – Symphony No. 5


Date:                Sunday 18 November 2018, 3pm

Orchestra:      Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Conductor:      David Charles Abell

Narrator:        Michael Morpurgo

Programme:   War Horse: The Story in Concert – Centenary Concert


Date:               Sunday 27 January 2019, 3pm

Orchestra:      St Petersburg Philharmonic

Conductor:     Yuri Temirkanov

Soloist:            Freddy Kempf (piano)

Programme:   Rachmaninov – Piano Concerto No. 2

Mahler – Symphony No. 4


Date:               Sunday 24 February 2019, 3pm

Orchestra:      Symphony Orchestra of India

Conductor:     Martyn Brabbins

Soloist:            Marat Bisengaliev (violin)

Programme:   Weber – Oberon Overture

Bruch – Violin Concerto No. 1 in G

Rimsky-Korsakov – Scheherazade


Date:               Sunday 7 April 2019, 3pm

Orchestra:      Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

Director & Soloist:     Pinchas Zukerman (conductor and violin)

Programme:   Vaughan Williams Fantasia on a Theme by Thomas Tallis

Elgar Enigma Variations

Beethoven Violin Concerto


Date:               Sunday 14 April 2019, 3pm

Orchestra:      Japan Philharmonic Orchestra

Conductor:     Pietari Inkinen

Soloist:            John Lill (piano)

Programme:   Rautavaara – Opener

Beethoven – Piano Concerto No. 3

Takemitsu – Requiem for Strings

Sibelius – Symphony No. 2



Date:               Sunday 12 May 2019, 3pm

Orchestra:      Russian Philharmonic of Novosibirsk

Conductor:     Thomas Sanderling

Soloist:            Valentina Lisitsa (piano)

Programme:   Rimsky Korsakov – Capriccio Espagnol

Rachmaninov – Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini Variations

Mussorgsky – Pictures at an Exhibition


Date:               Sunday 16 June 2019, 3pm

Orchestra:      Royal Scottish National Orchestra

Conductor:     Ben Palmer

Programme:        The Planets – An HD Odyssey:

Richard Strauss Also Sprach Zarathustra (opening)

Johann Strauss II Blue Danube Waltz

J S Bach (orch. Stokowski) Toccata and Fugue in D minor

Beethoven Symphony No. 7 (2nd movement)

Williams Main Theme from Star Wars

Holst The Planets