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Message from Sage Gateshead: Heinrich Schiff

Posted on 23 December 2016

It is with great sadness that we learned today of the passing of Heinrich Schiff after a long illness. Heinrich Schiff was Music Director of Northern Sinfonia, before its Royal title, from 1990-1996 and after stepping down as Music Director, he returned a number of times as a guest artist. He was an inspirational cellist and conductor and led many memorable performances in City Halls and Sage Gateshead. He last performed with Royal Northern Sinfonia in 2011 – a Beethoven ‘Eroica’, which is still remembered by the orchestra and audiences alike for its musical profundity.

Lars Vogt, Music Director of Royal Northern Sinfonia says: “It seems unthinkable to me that Heinrich Schiff is not with us anymore. I am deeply saddened about this immense loss to the music world and to me personally. I have admired him as a musical giant, at first from afar as a teenager and later as a wonderful collaborator both as conductor and cellist, and also as a really good friend. I first performed with him in concert in Newcastle with the Northern Sinfonia in 1991, and I still remember fondly not only the unique musical experience with him and the orchestra but also how friendly he was towards me, treating me, then 20 years old, as an equal and colleague. I will never forget the many musical and personal experiences with him, particularly the sound of his cello which he really made to sing in an inimitable way and the immense inspiration that he was to so many people around him.”

Bradley Creswick, Leader of Royal Northern Sinfonia says: “Heinrich was a completely unique man and musician, full of burning, impassioned integrity. His love of words infused his music making and created incomparable musical inspiration on stage. Heinrich shaped the sound and qualities of Royal Northern Sinfonia like few others, and we will be forever in his debt.”

The thoughts of all of us at Sage Gateshead are with Heinrich’s family and friends at this difficult time.