16 Feb 2018

The top music destinations in 2018

From Reykjavik to Tokyo, Sydney to Berlin, here are the cities that will be shaping what you listen to in 2018.

Harpa Concert Hall Reykjavik


Midwinter isn’t bleak in Reykjavik, thanks to Dark Music Days, a festival celebrating contemporary music from Iceland and elsewhere. Concerts are held in the multi-award-winning Harpa (pictured), the new hall designed by artist Olafur Eliasson with Henning Larsen Architects. And the city also happens to have one of the world’s best record shops, 12 Tónar.

Image credit: KeongDaGreat / Shutterstock.com

Tokyo at night


Along with all its other attractions, Tokyo has some fantastic concert halls, presenting some of the world’s best performers and orchestras. Herbert von Karajan described Suntory Hall as “a jewel box of sound”, and there’s much more than opera at Tokyo Opera City Hall. Other grand possibilities include New National Theatre and Bunkamura Orchard Hall.



People have always flocked to Berlin for its amazing music scene, which covers every genre possible. Violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter (pictured) made her debut with the Berlin Philharmonic at 13, and has played with the orchestra so often she considers it her second living room; if you can’t see her there, she’s playing with Sydney Symphony Orchestra in June.



Art and music go hand in hand in Portugal’s capital. The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, a cultural force in the city, holds concerts in its centre, which also houses a spectacular museum. And you’ll want to arrive half a day early before your concert at the Cultural Centre of Belém to check out the contemporary works at Museu Coleção Berardo next door.


Sala Sao Paulo

São Paulo

Named one of the world’s top 10 concert halls, Sala São Paulo is the most unusual on the list. It’s a converted railway station waiting area, with a movable ceiling that changes the acoustics depending on who’s performing. Brazilian pianist Nelson Freire has played there, and he’s back in Sydney in March.



Music is an any-time-of-day affair in London, with many top venues, including Wigmore Hall and St John’s Smith Square, having brilliant lunchtime series. Some of the world’s leading music schools can be found in the capital, too; you may even come across a name of the future at one of their concerts.


Sydney Opera House


As far as modern buildings go, you’d be hard pushed to find one more widely recognised around the world than the Sydney Opera House, home of the SSO. That’s not the only place to hear the orchestra; you can also check out their programs at City Recital Hall.

Image credit: Keith Saunders


Carnegie Hall

New York

In the city that never sleeps, catch music in bars, clubs, parks, concert halls and – in the case of Bargemusic – on a converted coffee barge near the Brooklyn Bridge. You might be lucky and find local resident, pianist Emanuel Ax, at Carnegie Hall (pictured), but more likely than not, he’ll be touring the world, including to Sydney.

Image credit: Felix Lipov / Shutterstock.com

To hear some of the best classical musicians in the world perform in Sydney, see what's on in the SSO’s 2018 Season.

*This article originally ran 10 August 2017.

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