What is ‘Concert-Theatre?’

Music and theatre work together frequently but rarely equally. In opera, acting is subservient to the immense demands of the score. In theatre, musicians support the considerable demands of the text. Concert-theatre asks the question: what happens when both elements are included equally?

People are inherently interdisciplinary. Concertgoers are theatre audiences too, and we all possess finely attuned ears from a lifetime of listening. We collapse this illusion of space between genres by revealing the stories behind the standard rep, making music more visible and contextual. The resulting close collaborations allow artists to mutually appreciate their peers in new ways. Touring allows several orchestras to benefit from expensive stand-alone engagements.

We believe that our framework for an even balance of music and story, in the service of universal themes of our shared experience, is vital to the future of concert music.
We therefore employ narration, projections, lights, sound, illusions, and even food to properly feature an iconic piece of music in an immersive way. We focus on marginalized stories to make the urgently relevant case for the performing arts as a political act.

Partners include The Boston Symphony Orchestra, Los Angeles Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Silkroad Ensemble, Shakespeare’s Globe, The Cleveland Orchestra, The National Symphony Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the British Film Institute, and The English Concert, among others.

Venues include The Kennedy Center, The Hollywood Bowl, Buckingham Palace, Washington National Cathedral, The Tanglewood Music Center, Southwark Cathedral, Wilton’s Music Hall, The Barbican, and other leading venues around the world.

Conductors of original works include Andris Nelsons, Dame Jane Glover, Bramwell Tovey, Sakari Oramo, JoAnn Falletta, Trevor Pinnock, Hans Graf and Dima Slobodeniouk. Soloists include Alison Balsom, Camilla Tilling, Amy Dickson, Soumik Datta, Georgia Jarman, Keira Duffy, Abigail Fisher, Pekka Kuusisto. New collaborations include the puppetry masters Gyre & Gimble, composer Max Richter, and new works for young audiences.

Bill Barclay

Writer, Director, Producer

Bill Barclay was director of music at Shakespeare’s Globe from 2012-2019 producing music for over 130 productions and 150 concerts. Original scores include Hamlet Globe-to-Globe to every country in the world, Emilia, Edward II, Romeo & Juliet, Taming of the Shrew, Merchant of Venice, Twelfth Night, Pericles and Comedy of Errors.

A ‘personable polymath’ according to the London Times, he is an American director, composer, conductor, writer and producer, and currently artistic director of Concert Theatre Works.
Broadway and West End: Farinelli and the King, Twelfth Night, and Richard III all starring Mark Rylance.

A passionate advocate for evolving the concert hall, he has created works of ‘concert theatre’ for the LA Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, the BBC Symphony Orchestra at the Barbican, and annually with The Boston Symphony Orchestra (Peer Gynt, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, The Magic Flute, L’Histoire du Soldat), among many other ensembles around the world.

As a composer, Barclay’s original music has been performed in 197 countries, 42 US states, for President Obama, the British Royal Family, for the Olympic Torch, at the United Nations, in Buckingham Palace, and in refugee camps in Jordan and Calais. He is the founder of the label Globe Music recognised by the BBC, The Royal Philharmonic Society and Songlines (Top of the World, 2016), with releases featuring Ian Bostridge and Soumik Datta. His single Let Nature Sing, made entirely of birdsong, debuted at #11 on the UK Pop Charts to benefit the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.

Barclay recently created a new Four Seasons Recomposed for Max Richter on period instruments with the puppetry masters Gyre & Gimble. In 2019, he composed four new productions for the Globe, directed two original immersive works for Washington National Cathedral, conducted his new album, King of Ghosts, on tour with City of London Sinfonia, directed the Grammy-winning Silk Road Ensemble with Heroes Take Their Stands, and directed his original adaptation of Antony & Cleopatra with the Virginia Symphony Orchestra.
Barclay regularly collaborates with charities to collapse the space between arts and advocacy, composing A Mother’s Love for the Wild Foundation, and creating Tales in Migration with the Silkroad Ensemble. A noted concert curator, he piloted the Candlelit Concerts series in the Globe’s Sam Wanamaker Playhouse from its construction in 2014. This series featured major collaborations including the Royal Opera House, The Sixteen, English Concert, Orchestra for the Age of Enlightenment, BBC Proms and London Jazz Festival, with guest curators including John Williams, Trevor Pinnock, Lauren Laverne, the Brodsky Quartet, and Anoushka Shankar.

An arts and culture writer for the Guardian and reviewer for Songlines magazine, Bill recently published Shakespeare, Music, and Performance for Cambridge University Press, and The Jon Lipsky Play Anthology for Smith & Kraus. He has lectures on his research specialty the Music of the Spheres on three continents, and is a leading international voice on Shakespeare’s music. He is a contributing essayist in a forthcoming book on Shakespeare’s Music with Oxford University Press in 2020.

Barclay is a lauded actor, having won a Fox Foundation Resident Actor Fellowship, the largest grant for actors in the US. A Boston native, he was a member of the resident acting companies at Shakespeare & Company (10 years, Resident Music Director), the Actors Shakespeare Project (10 years, Artistic Associate), and The Mercury Theatre (Colchester, UK). He trained in Bali and at the National Theatre Institute; he is a graduate of Vassar College and earned his MFA in Playwriting at Boston University.

His newest play with music, The Chevalier, was commissioned by the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and premiered at Tanglewood in August. It is currently preparing for a tour of the US and UK 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. This true story about the neglected composer Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges, is followed by facilitated talkbacks addressing racial equity in classical music.

Four actors and solo violin reveal Bologne’s true friendships with Mozart and Marie Antoinette, featuring Bologne’s finest music for orchestra.
Written and Directed by Bill Barclay

The Chevalier is the centrepiece of an international advocacy campaign for racial representation across the US and EU orchestra ecology. Each performance raises money for the Sphinx National Alliance for Audition Support which funds auditions for musicians of colour in the United States to win tenured chairs in US orchestras. Bill Barclay has co-created a new audition alliance with the Chineke! Foundation in London to amplify this effort in Europe, the European Alliance for Audition Support (EAAS). Musicians of colour need financial support to audition for orchestras that have stubbornly resisted inclusion, particularly among Black players, composers, and conductors. Bologne’s story is one of many that must be restored to our lopsided history. We are also partnering with the Festival Saint-Georges in Bologne’s hometown in Guadeloupe, to open-source and digitise all of Bologne’s 250+ compositions.

Commissioned by The Boston Symphony Orchestra for a world premiere at the Tanglewood Learning Institute’s inaugural season in 2019, The Chevalier was selected as a finalist in the Eugene O’Neill National Playwrights’ Conference in 2021. The Winston-Salem Symphony workshopped the work in 2020 ahead of its full premiere which was scheduled to be part of the 2021 National Black Theatre Festival.

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 full-length stage play will continue to be workshopped throughout 2021. Our ‘concert theatre’ tour with just four actors intersperses Bologne’s finest movements with dramatic and comedic scenes.

We either tour with our own ensemble of 7, or perform with your orchestra. The 80 minute show can accompany a talkback on racial equity in the arts, as well as both lectures and masterclasses for universities.

A playlist of the music is streamable here.

This story is attributed to the work of Margaret Casely-Hayford CBE, Chi-chi Nwanoku OBE, and Gabriel Banat, whose passionate efforts have brought the Chevalier to life.

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”

The Chevalier is represented worldwide by Dorn Music.

This approved text is not to be altered or shortened without the management’s permission. Please replace older versions.

Full Score and Parts are available upon request.

May 2023

Grieg and Ibsen
Hilariously Reunited

This seminal concert staging of Peer Gynt was commissioned by the Boston Symphony, and remounted at Milwaukee Symphony and Cincinnati Symphony with Pekka Kuusisto and Camilla Tilling. A new comedy in verse that brings the audience to its feet every night. Watch our trailer below.


-The Boston Globe

“Innovative, yet utterly captivating,
yet true-to-the-music”

-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Whimsical, entertaining, and eye-opening…
It unfolded cinematically…
enhanced by a hilarious bit of puppetry.”

-Cincinnati Business Courier

Our flagship production showcases dynamic interplay between orchestra, chorus, actors and puppetry in a creative distillation of over five hours of material. It exists in two versions – 105 minutes including an intermission, and a 80 minute one-act. All eight of the famous suite movements are included, with over a dozen thrilling imports from Grieg’s original incidental score only found in the 1980’s.

“Barclay’s stage direction made full use of the space, and simple props of chairs, tables, and coat racks left the Norwegian countryside and other exotic locations up to the imagination.”

-Boston Classical Music Review

“The result, which won and deserved a cheering, standing ovation on Friday, was witty and engaging, and flowed seamlessly. Creatively set on two movable platforms, three trunks, a few footstools and chairs and some stylized trees, designed by Cristina Todesco, and dressed in wonderfully detailed costumes and puppets by Charles Schoonmaker, it was full of energy and fun.”

-Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“A combination of surrealness and tenderness spelled by rustic comedy…the direction, cast, and simple production were decidedly convincing, and the audience really responded.”

-The Shepherd Express

Program note

Henrik Ibsen’s sprawling verse play has always been intimidating to stage. His protagonist encounters a who’s who of Scandinavian folklore across three continents, 40 scenes, and 60 years. As a contrast, Grieg’s original incidental score survives neatly in two concert suites, fashioned by the composer after the 1876 Oslo premier. This new adaptation tonight tries to tame the story while going back to the wilder incidental score, mining for fresh bits of Grieg you’ve probably not heard before.

It’s hard to identify a more exuberant writer than Ibsen in 1867. In its grab bag of genres from fantasy to naturalism, Peer Gynt is said to anticipate the literary modernism of the First World War. I rather think it anticipates film, cutting from place to place, exploring fantastical imagery, and using comedy to connect us to Peer the person (who many believed had actually lived). Those innovations still amaze readers today, and all this before he wrote his greatest plays: Hedda Gabler, A Doll’s House, Ghosts, The Wild Duck, and The Master Builder.

Like the play that barely contains him, Peer has a foot in both romantic and modernist impulses. A dreamer and an opportunist, he pursues the world’s temptations in the mold of the self-made man, only to realize at death’s door the hollowing consequences of individualism. In all the translations I’ve read, the word Self reigns supreme in Peer Gynt. His simple aim is to be who he is above all else. After all, didn’t Shakespeare counsel us to be true to thyself ‘above all’? Peer dares us to criticize him for this. What is amazingly insightful is in the decades since Ibsen wrote Peer Gynt, our global industrialized economy has only increasingly spun on this idea, as does our social media, celebritizing the Self one Instagram photo at a time. But where does compassion factor in? Where meaning? Is pleasure all? Peer’s cautionary tale of hedonism becomes more relevant with each passing day.

It is a joy to bring theatrical tools so fully into the concert hall with this iconic score. Too often, Peer Gynt is only known to us through Grieg’s greatest hits. I have labored to find homes for as many unfamiliar movements from the original score as I could. To serve the music, the text had to be written from scratch, economizing the narrative while retaining the spirit of Ibsen’s many different meters and rhyme schemes. We have committed to a rare fully staged presentation in the concert hall so that Grieg’s iconic music can reunite with the grandeur of the story and the caprice of its characters. Above all, we have stayed true to the spirit of equal partnership between Ibsen and Grieg in our ‘concert-theatre’ approach. I hope we are honouring these legends most however, in making something that feels true to us too.

-Bill Barclay
Writer and Director

Peer Gynt is represented worldwide by Dorn Music.

This approved text is not to be altered or shortened without the management’s permission. Please replace older versions.

Full Score and Parts are available upon request.

May 2023

An immersive staged mass
Celebrating the 400 year legacy of William Byrd

“Effortless perfection”

-The Observer

England’s finest composer was a covert Catholic facing brutal prosecution. Hear Byrd’s Mass for 5 Voices as he intended: sung for worship in strictest secrecy.
Co-commissioned by St. Martin-in-the-Fields, London, and Washington National Cathedral, D.C. Fretwork and The Gesualdo Six collaborate for the first time in a theatrical seance by candlelight to commune with some of the most ravishing music ever written.


“Musically it’s glorious…chillingly authentic…ominous, buoyant and uplifting… What better way to open this year’s 400th anniversary celebrations.
“The spirit of clandestine celebration of a Catholic mass is at the heart of Bill Barclay’s Secret Byrd…The all-male voices ring out with intonational precision and an almost ecstatic connection to text that would have delighted Byrd.”

Read the full GUARDIAN review.

“If they haven’t already filmed this, they should for when the initial tour is over. In the meantime, do try to see it live.”

Early Music Review

2023 Tour and Tickets

Jan 27-28 UK Premier in the West End, with The Gesualdo Six and Fretwork. SOLD OUT
March 4-5 US Premier in at Washington National Cathedral in DC, with Cathedra. SOLD OUT
April 19 Bridgewater, VA with Cathedra.
May 11 St Paul’s School, New Hampshire, with Cathedra.
May 12 St Stephens Church, Providence RI, with Cathedra.
June 9-11 Death of Classical, Greenwood Cemetery, Brooklyn NY, with Cathedra and Abendmusik.
June 29 Oxford Festival of the Arts (UK), with The Gesualdo Six and Fretwork.
July 2 Lincoln (UK) with Martin Randall Travel, with The Gesualdo Six and Fretwork.
July 16 First Congregational Church in Nantucket, MA, with Cathedra.
September 7 The Mount Without, Bristol (UK), with The Gesualdo Six and Fretwork.
September 13 St Marys, Haddington at the Lammermuir Festival, Scotland, with The Gesualdo Six and Fretwork.
October 13 St. Bartholomew’s, Brighton Early Music Festival, with The Gesualdo Six and Fretwork.
November 14-15 Performance Santa Fe, with The Gesualdo Six and Abendmusik.
December 2
 National Centre for Early Music, York (UK), with The Gesualdo Six and Fretwork.

“Secret Byrd is deeply moving – a spiritual experience sensitively translated for a secular age…touring the UK and US throughout this year, it is the brainchild of Bill Barclay, a well-established master of sui generis music-theatre events. This collaboration with the vocal ensemble The Gesualdo Six and viol consort Fretwork has his meticulous fingerprints all over it.”

The Tablet

Secret Byrd is represented worldwide by Dorn Music.

This approved text is not to be altered or shortened without the management’s permission. Please replace older versions.

Full Score and Parts are available upon request.

May 2023

Sibelius’ incidental music for Shakespeare’s The Tempest

A meditation on ‘lateness:’ mortality, legacy, and creative fulfilment.

It is 1925 and the great Finnish master is bombarded by requests for his Eighth Symphony by the young conductor, Serge Koussevitzky. Dithering for inspiration, Sibelius’ life is forever changed with a commission for incidental music for The Tempest. The last act of Shakespeare’s play resonates with him in a more powerful way than he could ever have imagined, and he must confront the end of tonality and his creative voice in the world.

Shakespeare’s profound final play, detailing the loss of his own poetic powers, triggers the ‘Silence of Järvenpää:’ the final 25 years of the Sibelius’ life when at the height of his fame he could compose no longer. “The Tempest (Stormen)” is Sibelius’ penultimate work and one of his most astonishing achievements. Deeply pictorial and personal, it is at once a precursor to cinematic music and a farewell to symphonic tonalism.

The story revolves around three couples – Prospero and Ariel, Jean and Aido Sibelius, and Serge and Olga Koussevitzky. Their three worlds: Shakespeare’s imaginary island, backstage at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, and deep in the forests of Finland, stay separate until the very end, when Sibelius finally faces the natural terminus of his creativity.

In development.

Researched with help from the Koussetivzky Music Foundation and the Library of Congress

This new concert theatre work uses actual correspondence shared between the Sibelius’s and Koussetizky’s between 1915-1940. Below is the telegram Sibelius sent Serge curtly announcing his 8th Symphony would yet not arrive – NICHT DIESEN SAISON. Sent in the middle of Koussevitzky’s historic Sibelius symphony cycle, promising to conclude with a premier of his newest, this one telegram must have been devastating. The symphony never came.

Sibelius Tempest is represented worldwide by Dorn Music.

This approved text is not to be altered or shortened without the management’s permission. Please replace older versions.

Full Score and Parts are available upon request.

May 2023

THE CHEVALIER | Trailer | with Dame Jane Glover, conducting Music of the Baroque

PEER GYNT | Trailer



PEER GYNT | Images


Tanja Dorn

Owner & President
Phone: +49 (0) 511 13 222 475
Email: dorn@dornmusic.com

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Vice President, Touring & Artist Management
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Email: acocella@dornmusic.com