Review: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra – Musicals from the Heart, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, September 17 2023

Review: Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra – Musicals from the Heart, Mayflower Theatre, Southampton, September 17 2023

By Nick Mabey

Heartbeat (formerly Wessex Heartbeat) celebrated its 30th anniversary in fine style on 17th September with a wonderful concert at Southampton’s Mayflower Theatre. The show, titled Musicals from the Heart, offered two hours of music provided by Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, with vocal performances by six West End musical actors. A near sell out crowd, including the Duchess of Edinburgh (a long-term supporter of the charity), was treated to fifteen songs and two instrumentals from a broad range of musicals, as well as some inspiring video clips of the Heartbeat and its work.

Hosted with great heart and humour by BBC Solent’s Lou Hannon and local-boy-turned-musical-star Earl Carpenter, both halves of the show kicked off with overtures, from Cats and Chicago respectively.  As well as being a charismatic host, Carpenter sang solo twice and joined the other performers for a further couple of numbers.  Music was chosen from a wide range of musicals, including Aspects of love, Phantom of the Opera, Frozen, Sunset Boulevard, Oklahoma and Wicked.  The finale, four songs from Les Miserables provided a fitting climax to an inspiring emotional evening.

As well as a celebration, the evening was also of course a fund raiser for Heartbeat, who showcased a range of wonderful projects, past and present, that are focused on helping babies, children and adults diagnosed with congenital and cardiovascular diseases. Primarily they support the work of the renowned Wessex Cardiac Unit based at Southampton General Hospital, by providing specialised equipment, services and facilities to help patients and their relatives through their cardiac journey. 

Wessex Heartbeat was launched in 1992 through the Tom, Dick and Harriet campaign in the Daily Echo.  With an initial target of £3 million, the charity soon grew in scale and ambition, with a further £4 million raised by 2002. At the centre of the work is Heartbeat House, in Tremona Road, which was formally opened in 2006, although accommodation for families of patients has always been part of the charity’s offer.  A more recent pioneering project on 3D heart modelling sounds amazing, and was featured a lot in the evenings efforts.  


You can find out a lot more about Heartbeat, including how to donate and volunteer, from their website,


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