The Stage

“A good musical score will both support and enhance the play it serves, and can lift a prosaic moment into something quite extraordinary.”

Michael Bruce, theatre composer

As one of the resident orchestras at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the London Philharmonic Orchestra spends each summer in the theatre, supporting and enhancing the drama and emotions depicted on stage. Our repertoire also extends to works originally written as incidental music for theatre productions – our 2015-16 season explored ways in which composers were inspired by the plays of Shakespeare, including Mendelssohn’s musical donkey in A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Sibelius’ take on The Tempest.

In this area of The Studio, we explore the different ways music can add to live drama, working with the text to create an on-stage world. We hear insights from professional composers about the process of working with a theatre director on a new production, and offer new creative briefs for you to try composing for stage yourself.


Playlist: Music for the stage – The Industry
How does a composer start writing music for a new theatre production? Who are the key creatives involved?  Find out what happens in the industry from composer Simon Slater, have a look behind the scenes at Shakespeare’s Globe, and find out how Simon’s music was used in their 2017 production of King Lear.  The Globe have also created some video resources about this production.

Music for the Stage – the industry

Videos in the playlist:

• Simon Slater – Composing for the stage
• Composing case study: King Lear at Shakespeare’s Globe

Creative Area

Playlist: Creative brief 1: King Lear scene and guidance
Using this playlist and guidance, we invite young composers to create music for a scene from Shakespeare’s King Lear.  In the first video in the playlist the scene is performed by three actors, for you to use as the basis for your music.  In the second video professional theatre composer Simon Slater discusses the scene and gives some pointers on how to approach it musically.

Creative brief 1: King Lear scene and guidance

Videos in the playlist:

• Creative brief 1: King Lear scene
• Creative brief 1: Approaching the brief
• Response 1 – LPO Soundworks ensemble
• Response 2 – Neil Tòmas Smith
• Response 3 – East Sussex Music CPD
• Response 4 – Seaford Head School group 1
• Response 5 – Seaford Head School group 2
• Response 6 – CAMC Chamber Ensemble

Creative brief 1: create music for this scene from King Lear

  • • For tips on how to approach the brief, watch Simon Slater’s video (second in the playlist). You can also download further guidance 
  • • To help plan your composition’s structure and mood, download the full text of the scene
  • • What did you come up with? We would love to hear your compositions, to sync to the scene and include in our video playlist.  For this, you can use any instruments(s) or software available to you, and compose in any style you wish.
  • • If you would like your music to be featured on the playlist, send your compositions (by email or file transfer) as audio files to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. including your name, the names of anyone else playing on your track, your age/school/college if relevant and any comments about your piece you’d like to share