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Learn from music's leading lights at Festival of Contemporary Music for All

Posted on 23 February 2018

Musicians of all ages have the chance to spend the day making music with some of the UK’s top composers and artists at Sage Gateshead next month.

A day of workshops for voices, instruments, electronic artists and composers will take place on Sunday 4 March as part of the international Festival of Contemporary Music for All (CoMA), which is happening across the UK and beyond.

Leading the sessions will be composers and conductors Sir James MacMillan and James Weeks, composer and sound artist Mariam Rezaei and conductor Hugh Brunt. There is also the chance to perform with members of Royal Northern Sinfonia.

James Weeks lives in Gateshead and his music is commissioned and performed worldwide. He co-founded EXAUDI, one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles for contemporary music and last year was appointed assistant professor in composition at Durham University.

He said: “I’ve been working with CoMA for three years as a tutor and have found it incredibly rewarding to be able to ignite a passion for living contemporary music among people of all sorts of backgrounds and abilities.

“I think everyone who comes to the Festival will find it refreshing and ear-opening, however much or little experience they’ve had with contemporary music in the past. All you really need is open mindedness and a spirit of adventure!”

Mariam Rezaei is currently composer in residence at The Lit and Phil library in Newcastle and is artistic director of turntable ensemble NOISESTRA in Gateshead. She is music director of the award-winning choir Northern Proud Voices.

Hugh Brunt is director of the Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia as well as co-artistic director and co-principal conductor of the London Contemporary Orchestra. He conducted the string and choir arrangements on Radiohead’s 2016 album A Moon Shaped Pool and has collaborated with artists such as Beck, Imogen Heap and Belle & Sebastian.

Sir James MacMillan is one of today’s most successful composers and conducts orchestras across the world. His powerful choral work St Luke Passion is being performed by Royal Northern Sinfonia, Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia, Quay Voices (Sage Gateshead’s youth choir) and The Girl Choristers of Newcastle Cathedral – conducted by Hugh Brunt – on Saturday 3 March at 7.30pm. There is also an opportunity to hear from the man himself at a pre-concert talk starting at 6.30pm.

The same evening the world premiere of a new work, Venetian Sky, commissioned for Sage Gateshead’s concourse space and composed and conducted by James Weeks, will be performed by Royal Northern Sinfonia and the New Tyneside Orchestra at 7pm.

The CoMA Festival celebrates new music with an emphasis on taking part. All the workshops provide opportunities for singers and players to actively get involved in new music.

Helen Blythe, Classical Music Producer at Sage Gateshead, said: “We’re so thrilled to be part of the CoMA’s Festival this year. The day will present an amazing opportunity for singers, instrumentalists and composers in our region to perform with a superb line-up of professional musicians including our very own RNS players. A day of discovery and surprises for all.”

These are the series of workshops taking place at Sage Gateshead (between 10am and 4.30pm on Sunday 4 March) that people can sign up to:

For voices

  • Work with leading composer Sir James MacMillan
  • Explore experimental vocal music in sessions led by some of the UK’s leading vocal conductors
  • Be the first to sing newly commissioned works from an international line-up of composers
  • Take part in a performance of James Weeks’ new work, specially written for the Festival
    For instruments
  • Perform brilliant works led by some of the UK’s leading lights in contemporary music performance and members of Royal Northern Sinfonia
  • Perform experimental classic Rock Piece by Pauline Oliveros
  • Be part of the premiere of James Weeks’ new work

For Electronic Artists and the Digitally Curious

  • Create an electronic music score for a short film in sessions led by composer and sound artist Mariam Rezaei

For Composers

  • Hear your music performed, and receive feedback from members of Royal Northern Sinfonia in short workshop sessions on the public Concourse.

View a full timetable of workshops here.

A day ticket (and you can mix and match your workshops) costs just £13.50 or £5 for students/unemployed. You have to be at least 16 and a minimum level of Grade 5 or equivalent is suggested. There are limited places in some workshops so ear;y booking is advised. Book Now.

Tickets for St Luke Passion are available here.

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