A professional orchestra dedicated to performing musical theatre scores is to launch later this year, backed by leading figures including composers Howard Goodall, Stephen Schwartz and Alan Menken.
The London Musical Theatre Orchestra is aiming to be “the best musical theatre orchestra in the world” and will play its first concert at Cadogan Hall in November. Its founder, Freddie Tapner, told The Stage it would feature top musicians alongside well-known West End performers.
Its first concert will be Rodgers and Hammerstein’s State Fair in November, followed by Alan Menken’s A Christmas Carol, which will be performed at the Lyric Theatre in the West End on December 19. A third in the season has yet to be announced.
The London Musical Theatre Orchestra already exists as a rehearsal group, which allows musicians to take part in private play-throughs of musical theatre scores for experience and fun. However, Tapner said a public orchestra was being launched out of a desire to “share the passion we have for this repertoire”.
Tapner added that to generate more momentum around the idea of musical theatre as a wonderful genre, there was a need for a public-facing orchestra that was the best in the world at playing musicals.
Three quarters of the professional orchestra will be made up of musicians sought out by Tapner to perform, with the remaining spaces going to members of the existing rehearsal orchestra.
Tapner said this would provide up and coming musicians with a development path.
“It means we can sit some of our existing players, who we feel are ready to go to the next level, alongside top professionals, and give them a fantastic learning experience,” he said.
Tapner said there would be a minimum of around 40 musicians performing in each concert.
Other patrons of the orchestra include choreographer Gillian Lynne, lyricist Anthony Drewe and writer Julian Fellowes.
“I hope this orchestra will bring the music of musicals to the forefront of the public eye and the industry eye as well. I think it’s really important that we celebrate the astonishing work that composers and lyricists have put into our profession,” Tapner said.