London Philharmonic Orchestra presents the UK premiere performances of The Chevalier, written and directed by Bill Barclay

Featuring the music and story of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges

Written and directed by Bill Barclay

Matthew Kofi Waldren conductor

Braimah Kanneh-Mason violin

Chukwudi Iwuji Joseph Bologne

Merritt Janson Marie Antoinette

David Joseph Mozart

Bill Barclay Choderlos de Laclos

The London Philharmonic Orchestra will present the UK premiere performances of Bill Barclay’s The Chevalier, a unique piece of concert theatre which tells the story of Joseph Bologne, Chevalier de Saint-Georges. The performances are at Snape Maltings on Sunday 19 March and St Martin-in-the-Fields on Tuesday 21 March 2023.

Joseph Bologne was an 18th-century Black composer, virtuoso violinist, friend of Mozart and Marie Antoinette, and contributor to the abolition of slavery. He also became one of the first Black colonels in the French army, leading Europe’s first all-Black regiment of 800 foot soldiers and 200 cavalries. An extraordinary artist, his story was nearly forgotten by history but will now be told.

Bill Barclay, Writer and Director of The Chevalier 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.”

Actor Chukwudi Iwuji 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.”

Elena Dubinets, Artistic Director of the London Philharmonic Orchestra says: Joining classical music and theatre while retelling the stories of legendary classical music figures is exciting and necessary. Writer and director Bill Barclay has presciently focused his company’s work on helping to de-marginalize musicians of colour, including Joseph Bologne, the Chevalier de Saint-Georges who was, for too long, forgotten by history. As an orchestra, we are very proud to be able to tell his story alongside the artists from Concert Theatre Works, the wonderful violinist Braimah Kanneh-Mason playing some of Chevalier’s most familiar compositions, and the conductor Matthew Kofi Waldren. We hope that LPO’s advocacy for performing music by composers from underrepresented backgrounds will raise the awareness of this wonderful music for our audiences.”

The full-length performance features four costumed actors, Chukwudi Iwuji, Merritt JansonDavid Joseph and Bill Barclay, who are joined by a solo violinist, Braimah Kanneh-Mason, and conducted by Matthew Kofi Waldren. Bologne’s finest music is interspersed with dramatic and comedic dialogue reflecting on the true nature of equality.

Tickets to the St Martin in the Fields performance are available here

Tickets for the Snape Maltings performance are available here

In advance of the performance, a playlist has been created of the music used and described in The Chevalier. Find it on Spotify here.