The Orchestral Theatre

What can you do with a group of musicians and a stage?

We’ve been asking this question since launching Aurora in 2005. These days some of our boldest answers emerge as part of The Orchestral Theatre at Southbank Centre – a series which sets out to rethink how an orchestral performance could look and feel.

“The aim is to make an audience hear anew, not by sugaring any pills, not by didactic explanation, not by light-shows, but by context… I was gripped from start to finish.” (Hilary Finch, The Times)

The experimental projects developed through this series offer audiences a new way of engaging with orchestral music. Some involve collaborating across art forms, developing new work including film, dance and/or theatre in which orchestral music and musicians are the driving force.  Some see us removing music stands and chairs altogether and having the orchestra play entirely from memory. Others still bring music alive through elements of spoken word, historical contextualisation and audience participation.

The common thread which links these Orchestral Theatre programmes is the sense of an audience being taken on an adventure which deepens their engagement with the music being performed. Where orchestral concerts can sometimes feel like fragmented assortments of unconnected pieces, we look to create through-conceived programmes with a sense of theatre, playfulness and surprise; often threading together solo, chamber and orchestral repertoire into seamless musical journeys.

As a result of a generous grant by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, this series is named in memory of Sir Claus Moser; it is also supported by grants from Cockayne – Grants for the Arts, The London Community Foundation, and the Hargreaves & Ball Trust. In addition to performances at Southbank Centre, The Orchestral Theatre also generates much of our regional and international touring output.

Browse our What’s on page for a list of all upcoming performances in the series.