Every King Lear is different from the last, as imaginative theatre-makers unlock fresh facets in revered texts. What can we learn from that in classical music? Since 2010, Southbank Sinfonia players have had the chance to think theatrically, treading the boards of the National Theatre. While all its productions entail music, our collaborations have each cast the musicians right among the actors, evolving an exciting new form of stagecraft.
The association began with Tom Stoppard and André Previn’s Every Good Boy Deserves Favour, then Jonathan Miller’s staging of Bach’s St Matthew Passion, and Alan Bennett and George Fenton’s Hymn which transferred to the West End. In Amadeus, an ensemble of Southbank Sinfonia players sets a new precedent for what an orchestra can achieve theatrically.
The resonance of this has reinvigorated our own approach to staging concerts, most distinctly in our #ConcertLab initiative. We have also collaborated with actors from the Royal Shakespeare Company, bringing to life ‘lost’ scores by classical composers including Vaughan Williams never heard beyond the Stratford stage. We are also proud to have established a new association with Nicholas Hytner’s acclaimed Bridge Theatre where the orchestra presents characterful concerts responding to the setting of each new play.