The Barbican's 2014-2015 season's just been announced. It's not wildly glamorous, but, on closer examination, it's a more solid season than expected. Last year the South Bank chose commercial pull over music, handing the place over to marketing The Rest is Noise. The South Bank once was a hothouse of artistic vision, pioneering ventures like the Messiaen year, the Bartók series, the Nono series and so on. There are, or were, people at the South Bank with knowledge and integrity. "Own curated" series keep music in the hands of musicians. In the long term if you want to run an arts centre, you need to build on the unique resources you already have. Have we become so obsessed with anniversaries that we've forgotten core repertoire? Gimmicks come and go. Back to basics isn't such a bad thing.
The Barbican Centre is home to several good orchestras such as the BBCSO, the LSO, and The Academy of Ancient Music. There will always be a market for good music, done well, even if it's not trendy. The LSO, for example, is building upon Valery Gergiev's strengths by doing a lot of Russian music What's more Gergiev is bringing the Mariinsky Opera to London, with "two contrasting operas dealing with archetypical aspects of Russian identity", Mussorgsky's Boris Godunov and Rodion Schedrin's The Left Hander (3rd and 4th November). How Vladimir Jurowski (a superb programme planner) would love to be able to do that. The Mariinsky Opera Chorus and the LSO Chorus are giving concerts too, Russian sacred music and Rachmaninov Vespers. The LSO is also doing a violin series with soloists like Kavakos, Znaider, Ehnes, Tetzlaff, Bell and others. Bernard Haitink returns to conduct Bruckner and a Mozart/Beethoven programme with Mitsuko Uchida. In June he does two more concerts: Mahler, Beethoven, Mozart. No harm in that! More unusually he's conducting Mark-Anthony Turnage Frieze with Beethoven 9.
In January, Simon Rattle conducts the LSO in two major concerts: Schumann Das Paradis und die Peri with a superlative cast. This is an importamt piece in the evolution of German music theatre. It's oratorio with operatic ambitions. Had Schumann lived would he have developed a different route to Wagner? Rattle and John Eliot Gardner, each in their own ways, have done much to bring this piece to attention. This will be one of the highlights of the year, and will be augmented by an LSO Discovery Day exploring the piece.
Rattle will also be bringing the Berliner Philhamoniker to London in February 2015 with a complete Sibelius cycle. This is majorly important because Sibelius is a composer whose work benefits from being heard in sequence. Rattle is one of the best exponents and the Berliner Philharmoniker are so good that they're always worth hearing.. Book now - this will be a blockbuster.
See also The BBCSO season and concerts around that, even bigger and more interesting.
AND a summary of the Blockbuster Barbican Baroque season.