The St. Petersburg Philharmonia

The obvious first port of call in the journey to the best musical spots in St. Petersburg, the St. Petersburg Philharmonia consists of two beautiful venues, or halls, considered as heaven by many a music lover. The celebrated institution regularly hosts concerts of its highly decorated home St. Petersburg Philharmonic Orchestra and the world-renowned St. Petersburg Academic Symphony Orchestra, as well as inviting both up-and-coming and already established talent from Europe and beyond. A variety of musical offerings, amazing acoustics, jaw-dropping interiors, and great prices – everyone will find something to their taste.

St. Petersburg Philharmonia. Credit: visit-petersburg.ru
St. Petersburg Philharmonia. Credit: visit-petersburg.ru

Oh, and for all long-standing music junkies or novices interested in getting some first-hand musical insight, the Philharmonia offers a wide range of season tickets giving you the opportunity to attend a series of concerts which are often prefaced with lectures by top classical music experts. Psst: a St. Petersburg Phil season ticket is a great present for any occasion, which is probably why they sell faster than hotcakes, so we recommend you to be on the look-out when the sales open.

The St. Petersburg Court Chapel

The St. Petersburg Court Chapel. Credit: opeterburge.ru
The St. Petersburg Court Chapel. Credit: opeterburge.ru

Dating back to a 15th century choir founded by Tzar Ivan the Third, the St. Petersburg Court Chapel is the oldest professional musical establishment in Russia. Apart from the famed home choir, the Chapel also has its own orchestra and a stunning concert hall located on the Moyka embankment. Same as the St. Petersburg Philharmonia, this place boasts superb acoustics and a fine music organ which makes its unconventional jazz-meets-Bach Christmas concerts a real treat. Keep your eyes peeled for the many discounts the Chapel offers: there’s a whopping 30% reduction of all tickets bought in its box office between 12am and 1pm, while students get 30% off all tickets anytime, so there’s no excuse not to give it a go.

Opera houses

Opera enthusiasts will definitely enjoy stopping by the St. Petersburg Opera, a cozy chamber theater located on Galernaya street. Created by the Russian opera mastermind Yury Alexandrov, whose impressive career record includes stage-directing at the Met, La Scala, and Verona Arena, this small yet lusciously decorated theater runs elegant and high-quality productions of both classic and modern operas and is an unquestionable must-visit in our books.

The St. Petersburg Opera. Credit: visit-petersburg.ru
The St. Petersburg Opera. Credit: visit-petersburg.ru

Those looking for more grandeur and big opera names may head to the Mikhailovsky and Mariinsky theaters, both of which host dazzling and large-scale performances starring the best-of-the-best of contemporary opera. Before you get too excited, please note that the much-coveted tickets can cost a small fortune and sell out with meteoric speed. So stay tuned to the theaters’ program updates and maybe start a habit of daily visits to the Gorbilet website where you sometimes can snatch yourself a Mikhailovsky or Mariinsky ticket at a discounted price. (Emphasis on ‘sometimes’.)

Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin opera at the Mariinsky theater. Credit: mariinsky.ru
Richard Wagner’s Lohengrin opera at the Mariinsky theater. Credit: mariinsky.ru

Beautiful music in beautiful churches

How about listening to some classical music in a church? Mind-blowing. But wait, concerts at the St. Catherine Basilica are just that. An excellent music organ, outstanding acoustics, nice (and not exclusively church-y) repertoire, and top-notch singers. Oh, and your wallet will thank you – the tickets always stay at a pleasing price of 500 rub for a several-hour concert. Bargain.

St. Catherine Basilica. Credit: muzcentrum.ru
St. Catherine Basilica. Credit: muzcentrum.ru

Come to think of it, St. Petersburg has a wealth of churches that are happy to share their beautiful venues with musicians and music aficionados. Apart from the Catholic Church of St. Stanislaus, which prides itself in its high-tech music organ and awe-inspiring acoustics, there are also the Estonian church of Jaanikirik, Lutheran Annenkirche, and the Lutheran-Evangelical Church of St. Mary, all of which offer a varied affiche of both church and secular organ and piano concerts.

Jaanikirik. Credit: peterburg.ru
Jaanikirik. Credit: peterburg.ru

St. Petersburg Concert Choir

The St. Petersburg Concert Choir at the St. Isaac's Cathedral. Credit:  The St. Petersburg City Administration
The St. Petersburg Concert Choir at the St. Isaac's Cathedral. Credit: The St. Petersburg City Administration

Even if you’re not a big fan of classical music, we still heartily suggest you check out the St. Petersburg Concert Choir. Usually held in the sublime venues of the St. Isaac’s Cathedral and Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, this choir’s gigs are not just a concert, but an ultimate musical experience. You get to spend several hours of quality time in these dimly lit and unusually still out-of-this-world spaces which are otherwise swarming with tourists loudly doing their touristy things. Not to mention that the ensemble in question is considered one of the best choirs in Russia and Europe. Conclusion? Give it a go, you won’t regret the 500 rub you spend on the ticket.

Concerts with a twist

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov memorial flat. Credit: theatremuseum.ru
Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov memorial flat. Credit: theatremuseum.ru

If you want something more than just two-ish hours of music, the St. Petersburg State Museum of Theater and Music is your best bet. Held in the memorial flats of the iconic composer Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, singer extraordinaire Feodor Chaliapin, and the reputable Samoilov acting dynasty, the museum’s events give spectators the chance to not only listen to authentic music, but also to live the cultural experience of the venues’ famous owners as concerts often go hand in hand with immersive theatrical performances. Eerie, but still kind of cool.

Concert at the Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov memorial flat. Credit: petrospb.ru
Concert at the Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov memorial flat. Credit: petrospb.ru

Other St. Petersburg museums, such as the State Museum of Political History of Russia and the National Pushkin Museum, are also known for hosting very atmospheric music events.

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