Orchestral Theatre

Welcome to this site.

My name is Adrian Curtin. I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Communications, Drama, and Film at the University of Exeter. I am working on a research project and a programme of public engagement, funded by the British Academy, which examines ‘orchestral theatre’, specifically, interdisciplinary performance experimentation by contemporary British music ensembles.

In recent years orchestras have become more theatrically ambitious. They have begun to depart from the standard concert format, rituals, and mode of presentation, inherited from the later nineteenth century, and re-think how concerts are programmed and presented, how musicians perform, where performance can occur, and the role of the audience in the co-creation of the live event. Orchestras exploring these performance possibilities often collaborate with artists from other disciplines, including theatre, dance, film, and visual art, in the creation of generically hybrid work that challenges conventional understanding of the orchestra, of musicians’ skills and capabilities, of borders between art forms, and of orchestral repertoire. 

Southbank Sinfonia, Atmospheres (photo: Matt Belcher)

On this blog I will share updates about my research and public engagement activities, including a series of conversations I am having with people involved in creating this work. These conversations will be available in podcast form.