The New Voices Collective - the New York-based group which, since 2001, has provided a showcase for musical composers, including Jason Robert Brown and Andrew Lippa - will launch in the UK this autumn with a star-studded concert at the Southbank Centre’s Queen Elizabeth Hall on 12 October 2008.

Nigel Planer will host the evening, which will include performances by West End stars including Lara Pulver, Damian Humbley, Eliza Lumley, Claire Moore, Dianne Pilkington, Oliver Tompsett and Matthew White. Pulver and Humbley co-starred in the UK premiere of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years at the Menier Chocolate Factory in 2006 (pictured), while Pulver was Olivier and Whatsonstage.com Award-nominated for her turn last year in the UK premiere of another Brown musical, Parade, at the Donmar Warehouse.

A spokesperson told Whatsonstage.com that this would be the first in a series of New Voices concerts in London, with 2009 dates due to be announced shortly.

Initially founded to showcase up-and-coming composers, the New Voices Collective soon invited more established songwriters to join in by working with new collaborators and exploring different styles. What happens when several composers try their hand at the same song? Or when a theatre composer teams up with a poet? Or when a pop musicmaker pens something for a string quartet?

The answer to these questions have led to the premiere of over 200 new songs over the past seven years. In addition to Jason Robert Brown and Andrew Lippa, these have included works by Stephen Schwartz, John Kander, Michael John LaChiusa, Georgia Stitt, Tom Kitt, Jeff Blumenkrantz, Jenny Giering, Steve Marzullo, Paul Loesel, Mary Heisler and Zina Goldrich.

The first New Voices concert clashes with the already sold-out, fifth anniversary event for Notes from New York, the UK-founded concert series which also promotes the work of contemporary musical theatre composers, many of them American. As previously announced (See News, 28 May 2008), it’s celebrating with a gala staging of Jason Robert Brown’s The Last Five Years at the West End’s Theatre Royal Haymarket, with series regulars Julie Atherton and Paul Spicer performing the two-hander for one-night only at the same time, 7.30pm, on 12 October.

- by Terri Paddock