July 2020: Classical Livestream Planner

By Kristina Elstner and Keegan Morris |

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Even though in-person concerts have been suspended, many talented artists and ensembles are committed to sharing stunning music through the internet. Here’s a guide to some upcoming classical livestreams you should add to your calendar!


GatherNYC presents Lara Downes

July 3 at 10:00am
Pianist Lara Downes is presenting an enriching way to commemorate Independence Day this weekend with Oh Beautiful: A Summertime Celebration of American Music streaming live on Facebook, in partnership with GatherNYC, as part of their Mindful Minutes concert series. You’ll hear Downes perform works by Florence Price, George Gershwin, and John Wineglass in a celebration of the diverse and bountiful American music library.

Lara Downes (Photo: Christine DiPasquale)

Porchlight Music Theatre performs Felder's Beethoven

July 12 at 7:00pm
We’ve all heard “Ode to Joy,” “Moonlight Sonata,” and the four best-known opening notes ever written. You know the ones. But Chicago’s own Porchlight Music Theatre is looking to present Beethoven’s vast and influential music catalogue in a new light, with their performance of Hershey Felder’s Beethoven. In celebration of the 250th anniversary of Beethoven’s birth, and with his music as the backdrop, the performance will give viewers a look at Beethoven not often seen or heard.

Boston Symphony presents Tanglewood 2020 Online Festival

Various dates
In times like these, we have to adapt. With the cancellations of many summer music festivals around the country, the Boston Symphony has done just that, by converting its annual outdoor festival, Tanglewood, to a completely online experience for all the enjoy. See newly-produced content, like a Gil Shaham performance of commissioned works by Scott Wheeler and William Bolcom, a conversation between members of the acclaimed Juilliard String Quartet, as well as encore BSO performances. Check out their website to peruse the festival’s expansive eight weeks of video and audio features – many of them free! Just open your window, let the summer breeze in, and press play.

Andris Nelsons and Yo-Yo Ma at the Tanglewood Shed (Photo: Hilary Scott)

Seattle Symphony

Various dates
Whether you’re looking for music programming geared towards children, educational material to broaden your knowledge of orchestral music, or simply a performance that brings solace or delight, there’s a Seattle Symphony live broadcast for you. Check out their website for a schedule of features and performances throughout the month of June like ‘Meet the Instrument’, family concerts, and ‘Tiny Clips for Tiny Tots’.

Seattle Symphony music director Thomas Dausgaard (Photo: Thomas Grøndahl)


Bang on a Can New Music Marathon

June 14 at 2:00 pm
After 22,000 viewers tuned in for Bang on a Can’s first 6-hour music marathon in May, this cutting-edge music organization, dedicated to bold programming with its international community, is returning for 25 new performances in another binge-worthy 6-hour livestream on June 14. Those attending can look forward to performances from musicians from all across the globe, including Terry Riley, Ted Hearne, and Rhiannon Giddens, conversations with composers and performers, as well as an astonishing ten world premiere performances. Join in the marathon here!

Rhiannon Giddens with her band at TFF Rudolstadt 2015, photo by Schorle [CC BY-SA 4.0, image cropped], via Wikimedia Commons

Make Music Chicago

June 21
If you’re missing the enrichment of seeing live music in Chicago, you’re not alone. Thankfully, Make Music Chicago is looking to bring both musicians and those who just love music together, taking their annual in-person festival to the internet with a full day of interactive musical livestreams from performers in the Chicago area. What makes this celebration of music unique is that all are invited to contribute, no matter their age, musical ability, or musical style.

Part of Make Music New York on June 21, 2012 (Photo: Make Music Day)

QuaranTrio live from Philadelphia

April 21 at 7:00 pm
A trio of lauded chamber musicians: violinist Brendan Speltz (Escher Quartet), violist Milena Pajaro-van de Stadt (Dover Quartet), and cellist Brook Speltz (Escher Quartet), team up for a live broadcast of music by Ernst von Dohnányi, Chris Rogerson, and Beethoven presented by an ensemble of music organizations including the Chamber Music Society of Detroit.

Dover Quartet

Metropolitan Opera's At-Home Gala

Saturday, April 25 at noon CT
What an antidote to opera withdrawal! The Met has taken its annual gala digital, which means that you can see more than 40 leading opera stars — including Renée Fleming, Lawrence Brownlee, Anita Rachvelishvili, and Bryn Terfel — perform remotely in a free digital livestream, all from your own living room. Stream it at metopera.org.

Renée Fleming (Photo: Andrew Eccles / Decca)

Mahler's New York: A Digital Festival

Through April 30
The New York Philharmonic, another storied occupant of Lincoln Center, hosts a virtual two-week festival featuring the music of Gustav Mahler. Of course, the festival covers his symphonies and lieder, but "e-tendees" can also expect a virtual walking tour and a DJ set inspired by the composer and conductor, who served as the orchestra's music director from 1909-1911. Head to nyphil.org to join forthcoming livestreams of past concerts, performances available for on-demand viewing, and a slew of other interesting digital content.

Spektral Quartet hosts the "Greatest Talent Show on Planet Earth"

Saturday, April 11 at 8:30 pm CT
With a fresh take on a talent show and the opportunity to embrace community, Spektral Quartet follows up on their in-person talent show from last summer with a virtual one over Zoom. Hosting what they’ve dubbed the Greatest Talent Show on Planet Earth, the Chicago quartet encourages your participation, be it with music, dance, comedy, or “flaming axes.” Whether you’d like to perform, or just want to tune in, make sure to RSVP!

Spektral Quartet (Photo: Jocelyn Chuang)

Andrea Bocelli: Music for Hope

Sunday, April 12 at noon CT
In what promises to be an uplifting concert, Andrea Bocelli will livestream an Easter performance from the cathedral of one of the epicenters of the COVID-19 pandemic: Milan.

Beethoven 9 by the CSO

Sunday, April 12 at 3:00 pm CT
The CSO will host a Facebook premiere for a complete video recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 from 2014. The performance of the treasured work is conducted by music director Riccardo Muti and features the Chicago Symphony Chorus plus soloists like Matthew Polenzani, and Eric Owens. If you miss the stream, don't worry: the video will remain on Facebook for on-demand viewing.

Riccardo Muti conducts the Chicago Symphony Orchestra (Photo: Todd Rosenberg)

Lara Downes

Friday, April 3 at 7 pm CT
Pianist Lara Downes launches her new album, Some of These Days, with a Facebook Live performance from her home in Sacramento, California. The album's uplifting content — freedom songs and spirituals — offers hope in this troubled time. Plus, you can make a difference just by tuning in: the e-concert is a fundraiser for hunger relief organization Feeding America.

Lara Downes (Photo: Jiyang Chen)

Artist Relief Virtual Benefit Concert

Saturday, April 4 at 7:00 pm CT
Classical music stars, including Rachel Barton Pine, J’Nai Bridges, Anthony McGill, and Emanuel Ax, will come together (digitally, that is) for a virtual concert to benefit Artist Relief Tree, a new fund for artists affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Tickets are available for a donation of $5 or more.

J'Nai Bridges (Photo: S. Richards Photography)

Civic Orchestra of Chicago 100th Anniversary Virtual Concert

Sunday, March 29 at 7:00 pm CT
Taking place exactly 100 years after the venerable training orchestra's first concert, what was scheduled to be a traditional, in-person concert, will now be live streamed on Sunday evening. The program will feature an excerpt from Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 5 (patched together from 60 remote recordings by Civic musicians) and seven Civic-commissioned world premieres.

Hope at Home

Daily at noon CT
In a series of half-hour episodes of live musical performance, violinist Daniel Hope performs and hosts some of the world’s most renowned classical musicians. The streams will be available on the ARTE Concert website and on Deutsche Grammophon’s YouTube channel.

Third Coast Percussion

Saturday, March 28 at 7:00 pm CT
Chicago’s own Grammy-winning percussion ensemble will share some of their favorite music, including a work written for them by Philip Glass in a livestream by UChicago Presents in partnership with the 92nd Street Y and the Chamber Music Society of Detroit.

Music Never Sleeps NYC

24 straight hours, beginning Friday, March 27 at 5:00 pm CT
Soon after the sweeping wave of concert cancellations began, cellist Jan Vogler shared a bright idea. A 24-hour performathon featuring him and many esteemed colleagues. The list has ballooned to about 60 performers, including such NYC-based luminaries as Joshua Bell, Jennifer Koh, Pablo Sáinz Villegas, and Inon Barnatan.

London Symphony Orchestra

Thursday, March 26 at 2:30 pm CT
To paraphrase the distinguished orchestra, they may not be able to perform, but they will keep playing. Keep calm and carry on, indeed. The LSO has announced twice-weekly full length concerts streamed live on YouTube. The next one is led by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, who conducts Schumann’s Symphony No. 3 and Mendelssohn’s Concerto for Violin and Piano featuring violinist Isabelle Faust.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner

Seattle Symphony

Thursday, March 26 at 9:30 pm CT; Saturday, March 28 at 10:00 pm CT; Sunday, March 29 at 4:00 pm CT
The resident orchestra of the Emerald city is keeping its audience entertained with a consistent broadcast schedule: weekly on Thursdays and Saturdays. This week, they'll share live rebroadcasts of Dvořák's Symphony No. 8 with conductor Thomas Dausgaard from earlier this year.

Thomas Dausgaard (Photo: Thomas Grøndahl)

We'll keep this guide updated with newly announced classical livestreams, so make sure to check back in!