The London Philharmonic Orchestra has announced the UK premiere performances of Bill Barclay’s THE CHEVALIER a show about the life and times of Joseph Bologne in March 2023
Bill Barclay’s critically acclaimed concert theatre work THE CHEVALIER tells the story of the first musician/activist, Joseph Bologne, 18th century Black composer and violinist who advocated for the abolition of slavery in the French colonies while teaching music to Marie Antoinette and leading Europe’s top orchestra.
“Absorbing and illuminating” – John von Rhein for Chicago Classical Review
“A compelling new concert theatre work” – Chicago Sun-Times
Snape-Maltings Snape March 19, 2023, 7:00PM
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Matthew Kofi Waldren, conductor
St Martin-In-the-Fields London March 21, 2023, 7:30PM
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Matthew Kofi Waldren, conductor
Concert Theatre Works will bring its critically acclaimed show The Chevalier in the premiere performances in the UK to audiences in Snape and London. Braimah Kanneh-Mason performs as solo violinist and is joined by actors Chukwudi Iwuji as Joseph Bologne, David Joseph as Mozart, Merritt Janson as Marie Antoinette, and Bill Barclay as Pierre Choderlos de Laclos.
Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges: Chukwudi Iwuji
Solo violin: Braimah Kanneh-Mason
Marie Antoinette: Merritt Janson
W.A. Mozart: David Joseph
Pierre Choderlos de Laclos: Bill Barclay
London Philharmonic Orchestra
Matthew Kofi Waldren, conductor
Actor Chukwudi Iwuji (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol.3) who will play Joseph Bologne says, “I’m so thrilled to be back performing in the West End with this wonderful project and with one of the world’s best orchestras. Joseph Bologne’s star is rightfully rising again and this vehicle is an important step toward much-needed equity in classical music and culture. The LPO, Bill Barclay, Snape Maltings, St Martin-in-the-Fields and Concert Theatre Works should be proud of this unique collaboration.”
Writer and Director of The Chevalier, Bill Barclay says, “How exciting to tread the boards at both Snape Maltings and St Martin-In-the-Fields this March, bringing Bologne’s neglected story and music to audiences in the UK. Performing The Chevalier in London and Suffolk with the London Philharmonic Orchestra feels like a homecoming for me especially, since Shakespeare’s Globe was my anchor for seven years. Concert Theatre Works commends the LPO for their recently announced initiatives to support and uplift conductors from historically underrepresented communities. It shows a deep commitment to supporting future generations of Black musicians. The march for equity goes on.”
About THE CHEVALIER
Son of a slave and French aristocrat, Joseph Bologne has reached the top of his game – music teacher to Marie Antoinette and Europe’s fencer to beat. But when a bedridden Mozart is carried into his kitchen, he attracts the attention of a secret police force returning people of colour to slavery.
As Paris hurtles toward Revolution, Bologne is forced to choose between his creative freedom and the crusade for equality. Can he sacrifice his bow for his sword?
This is the true story of three immigrants – Marie Antoinette, Mozart, and the Chevalier – conflating the French Revolution with the Resistance against authoritarianism unfolding today.
The Chevalier, written and directed by Bill Barclay was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra for the Tanglewood Learning Institute in 2019 and has had performances with the Cleveland Orchestra, the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago’s Music of the Baroque, and with the Harlem Chamber Players, an ethnically diverse collective of professional musicians dedicated to bringing high-caliber, affordable and accessible live classical music to people in the Harlem community and beyond.
About writer/director BILL BARCLAY
Director, writer, composer and conductor Bill Barclay is artistic director of Concert Theatre Works. He was director of music at Shakespeare’s Globe from 2012-2019 and has been recently named Artistic Director of the Music Before 1800 concert series in New York City. This season’s collaborators include: National Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Music of the Baroque, Chicago’s Symphony Center, Gandini Juggling, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, United Strings of Europe, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Chautauqua Institution, Caramoor Festival, and the Harlem Chamber Players. Broadway and West End credits as Music Supervisor include Farinelli and the King, Twelfth Night, and Richard III, all starring Sir Mark Rylance.
A ‘personable polymath’ (London Times), Bill Barclay has debuted works of concert theatre for the LA Philharmonic, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the Grammy-winning Silkroad Ensemble, City of London Sinfonia, and annually with The Boston Symphony Orchestra. He has created in some of the world’s most iconic spaces: The Hollywood Bowl, The Kennedy Center, the Barbican, Buckingham Palace, Shakespeare’s Globe, The Southbank Centre, Hampton Court Palace, and Washington National Cathedral. Collaborators include the conductors Marin Alsop, Andris Nelsons, Dame Jane Glover, Seigi Ozawa, JoAnn Falletta, Bramwell Tovey, Gianandrea Noseda, Harry Christophers, Trevor Pinnock, and Sakari Oramo. Other partners include The English Concert, Tanglewood, Cincinnati and Virginia Symphonies, Orchestra for the Age of Enlightenment, National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain, The Sixteen, Mostly Mozart Festival and Handel & Haydn Society.
His newest play with music, The Chevalier, was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and premiered at Tanglewood in 2019. A Finalist for The National Playwright’s Conference, it tours the US and UK in 2022 to raise money for the Sphinx National Alliance of Audition Support, which aims to address the lack of racial representation in orchestras in North America.
About the LONDON PHILHARMONIC ORCHESTRA
Uniquely groundbreaking and exhilarating to watch and hear, the London Philharmonic Orchestra has been celebrated as one of the world’s great orchestras since Sir Thomas Beecham founded it in 1932. With every performance we aim to bring wonder to the modern world and cement our position as a leading orchestra for the 21st century. Our home is at the Southbank’s Royal Festival Hall, where we’re at the beating heart of London’s cultural life. You’ll also find us at our resident venues in Brighton, Eastbourne and Saffron Walden, and on tour throughout the UK and internationally, performing to sell-out audiences worldwide. Each summer we’re resident at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, and you’ll find us online, on streaming platforms, on social media and through our broadcast partnership with Marquee TV. We also release live, studio and archive recordings on our own label, and are the world’s most-streamed orchestra, with over 15 million plays of our content each month.
Our Principal Conductors have included some of the greatest historic names like Sir Adrian Boult, Bernard Haitink, Sir Georg Solti, Klaus Tennstedt and Kurt Masur. In 2021 Edward Gardner became our 13th Principal Conductor, and Vladimir Jurowski became Conductor Emeritus in recognition of his impact as Principal Conductor from 2007–21. Karina Canellakis is our current Principal Guest Conductor and Brett Dean our Composer-in-Residence.
We’re committed to inspiring the next generation of musicians and music-lovers: there’s nothing we love more than seeing the joy of children and families enjoying their first musical moments, and we’re passionate about equipping schools and teachers through schools’ concerts, resources and training. Reflecting our values of collaboration and inclusivity, our OrchLab and Open Sound Ensemble projects offer music-making opportunities for adults and young people with special educational needs and disabilities.
Today’s young instrumentalists are the orchestral members of the future, so we’re committed to offering them opportunities to progress. Our LPO Junior Artists programme is leading the way in creating pathways into the profession for young artists from under-represented communities, and our LPO Young Composers and Foyle Future Firsts schemes support the next generation of professional musicians, bridging the transition from education to professional careers.
About BRITTEN PEARS ARTS
Britten Pears Arts is a pioneering music, arts and heritage charity based on the Suffolk coast at two popular, historic visitor destinations: The Red House and Snape Maltings. Britten Pears Arts emerged from the creative partnership of Benjamin Britten, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century, and his professional and personal partner, singer Peter Pears. Britten and Pears shared a progressive vision for music and the arts to be useful, helping people enhance and bring joy into their lives. Britten and Pears’ vision inspires all our activity, from work with the local communities to our national leadership roles in the fields of talent development and music, health and wellbeing. Britten Pears Arts was created through the merger of the Britten–Pears Foundation and Snape Maltings in 2020.
About THE CAST
An extraordinary actor both on screen and on stage, Chukwudi Iwuji (Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges) continues to captivate audiences with his versatility and establish himself as one to watch.
Iwuji currently stars opposite John Cena in James Gunn’s spinoff series PEACEMAKER for HBO Max and DC. Next, he will reunite with director James Gunn and make his debut in the Marvel universe starring in GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY VOL 3, as the villain, “The High Evolutionary.”
Iwuji also costars in Abi Morgan’s hit BBC series, THE SPLIT, which is currently streaming.
Selected additional film and tv credits include, THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD directed by Barry Jenkins, JOHN WICK: CHAPTER 2, WHEN THEY SEE US, DOCTOR WHO, and SHINE YOUR EYES.
An accomplished theater veteran, Iwuji has worked as multiple leads at The Public Theatre, including starring as OTHELLO in Shakespeare in the Park and THE LOW ROAD, for which he was awarded an Obie.
Other stage credits include Ivo van Hove’s OBSESSION opposite Jude Law, and HEDDA GABLER opposite Ruth Wilson, both for The National Theatre. Chukwudi is an associate artist for the prestigious Royal Shakespeare Company.
Iwuji is also a founding member of Chudor House Productions, his family’s production and management company.
Merritt Janson (Marie Antoinette) Merritt Janson is a New York based actor and writer working across theater, television and film. Devoted to developing new work, Merritt has originated roles in Robert Woodruff’s Notes From Underground and Autumn Sonata (Yale Rep, La Jolla, Theatre for a New Audience); Your Blues Ain’t Sweet Like Mine, created by Ruben Santiago-Hudson (Two River); Built with Robert O’Hara at 59E59, Jonathan Franzen’s House For Sale directed by Daniel Fish (Duke Theater, Transport Group); Lloyd Suh’s Great Wall Story (Denver Center); The Deception created by Dominique Serrand (La Jolla); and The Onion Cellar with Amanda Palmer and The Dresden Dolls at the American Repertory Theater.
An Off-Broadway regular, Merritt has specialized in classical roles with Theater for a New Audience (Julius Caesar directed by Shana Cooper, Sir Michael Boyd’s Tamburlaine the Great, and Measure for Measure directed by Simon Godwin); The Public (Richard II w/WNYC, A Midsummer Night’s Dream); Red Bull Theater (Coriolanus) and Shakespeare Theatre DC’s Othello. Over five seasons with Shakespeare & Company she played Miranda opposite Olympia Dukakis in The Tempest, Viola in Twelfth Night, Rosalind in As You Like It, Titania in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Desdemona in Othello opposite John Douglas Thompson. Other works include the title role in The Wilma’s Eurydice directed by Blanka Zizka, American Repertory Theater’s Britannicus directed by Robert Woodruff and Paradise Lost directed by Daniel Fish.
She can be found regularly onscreen most recently appearing on “Dexter: New Blood” (Showtime), “Elementary” (CBS), “Billions” (Showtime), “Quantico” (ABC), and “Madam Secretary” (CBS).
Merritt also plays music. Her style and composition are rooted in early American blues and her primary instruments are finger-style guitar, piano and tenor banjo. She has used this skill in several productions, most recently in TFANA’s Measure for Measure.
Merritt holds an MFA in Acting from ART/MXAT at Harvard University and a BA in English: Creative Writing from The Colorado College
David Joseph (Amadeus Mozart) David Joseph has been at Shakespeare & Company for fourteen seasons. Past roles include: James in Time Stands Still (nominated for Best Leading Actor Award), Mr Darcy in Christmas at Pemberly and Pride and Prejudice, George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life, Lysander in A Midsummer Nights Dream, Elyot in Private Lives, Dorante in The Liar, Sebastian in The Tempest, Clown 2 (12 Characters) in 39 Steps. David earned a Best Leading Actor nomination for playing Charlie Chaplin in the world premiere of The Consul, The Tramp and Americas Sweetheart at Old Castle Theatre, Shipwrecked, Player 2 (22 Characters) WINNER of Best Ensemble Award, Old Castle Theatre. Other recent roles include: Mozart in The Black Mozart at Tanglewood, Thom in The Last Wife for WAM, Michael in Can You Hear Me Baby (NYC & The Goodwill Theatre), George in Word Play at Playwrites Horizons, (NYC), Johnny in Hotel California (NYC), Coleman in I Married The Icepick Killer at Stella Adler Theatre (NYC). Film Credits: David was Producer and Staring role of the feature film Penny Land which premiered at Manhattan Film Festival, Damsel by Douglas Burgdorf, another feature film, premiered at the Spain International Film Festival, Romeo in Romeo & Juliet for The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Ang Lee’s Taking Woodstock, Glowing Screens Magdalena’s Brain. In 2008 & 2010 David had the honor of singing The National Anthem at Fenway Park in Boston.
Concert Theatre Works website: www.concerttheatreworks.com