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Celebrated conductor Sir Roger Norrington to give his last ever concert with Royal Northern Sinfonia on Thursday 18 November

Posted on 10 November 2021


In what promises to be a very special evening, Royal Northern Sinfonia is celebrating not only the music of Haydn but Sir Roger Norrington himself, as he takes to the stage for what he has decided will be his final night on the conductor’s podium.

Norrington has established himself as a true icon of classical music, known worldwide for his radical and innovative approach to performance. Throughout his distinguished career spanning seven decades he has championed fresh approaches to the work of composers from Monteverdi to Mahler and actively encouraged audiences to hear and experience music in new and engaging ways. Royal Northern Sinfonia is honoured to welcome him back to Sage Gateshead, for what is sure to be a truly memorable and historic performance.

As a pioneer of the movement for historically informed performance for over 50 years, there is nobody better suited to lead this recreation of Dr Haydn’s London Academy. In 18th Century London, concerts were often known as academies, but despite the scholarly-sounding title these evenings were pure entertainment, comprising a mixed bill of orchestral, solo and chamber music. Stripping back modern conventions and traditions, this all-Haydn programme breaks up symphonic movements with songs and chamber music, as it would have experiences by audiences in the 1790s.

Alongside Sir Roger in the spotlight will be soprano Susan Gritton and fortepianist Steven Devine, who will perform two sets of Haydn Canzonettas, written in London during his visit the last decade of the 18th century. The movements of the ‘Drumroll’ Symphony will be broken up not only by songs, but also Haydn’s dramatic String Quartet Op.76 No.5 featuring players from Royal Northern Sinfonia. Bringing our academy to a close will be one of the composer’s best loved symphonies, No.101 ‘The Clock’.

Sir Roger Norrington said “I have enjoyed every minute of over 50 years of making music with some of the most wonderful and talented musicians in the world. The time has come to step off the podium and I am thrilled to spend my last concert as conductor celebrating Haydn with Royal Northern Sinfonia.”

Thorben Dittes, Director of Royal Northern Sinfonia said “It is an honour for Royal Northern Sinfonia and Sage Gateshead to be the hosts of Sir Roger Norrington’s last performance on the podium. The music of Haydn is at the very heart of both our orchestra’s work and Sir Roger’s extremely distinguished career. To have him leading this personally curated recreation of a concert as an audience in London would have experienced it in the 1790s is the perfect culmination of 70 years of music making.

Live Stream available for 48 hours after the concert.

Norrington Presents: Dr Haydn’s London Academy

Thursday 18 November, 7.30pm

Sage Gateshead, Sage One and streamed online (available for 48 hours post-concert)

Tickets £5 – £39.50


For further media information please contact Susie Gray at The Corner Shop PR, | 07834 073795

Concessions are available for:

  • North East First Timers (first visit to Sage Gateshead)
  • 18-30s
  • 17 & Under and Unemployed (in receipt of benefit)
  • Groups

Norrington Presents: Dr Haydn’s London Academy

Haydn Symphony No.103 ‘Drumroll’, movements 1 & 2 (17 mins)
Haydn Set of English Canzonettas (15 mins)
Haydn String Quartet Op.76 No.5 (19 mins)
Haydn Symphony No.103 ‘Drumroll’, movements 3 & 4 (10 mins)


Haydn March for the Prince of Wales (5 mins)
Haydn Set of English Canzonettas (14 mins)
Haydn Symphony No.101 ‘The Clock’ (29 mins)

Sir Roger Norrington conductor
Susan Gritton soprano
Steven Devine fortepiano
Royal Northern Sinfonia

Sir Roger Norrington, conductor

For 50 years Roger Norrington has been at the forefront of the movement for historically informed orchestral playing. Whether with his own London Classical Players in the 1980s, with the Stuttgart Radio Symphony, Camerata Salzburg, or Zurich Chamber Orchestra in recent years, or with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment from its foundation, he has sought to put modern players in touch with the historical style of the music they play. The work involves orchestra size and seating, tempo, phrasing, articulation and sound.

Sir Roger (he was knighted by the Queen in 1997) sang and played the violin from a young age, and began to conduct at Cambridge. He studied at the Royal College of Music and in 1962 founded the first of several groups for the performance of early music, the Heinrich Schütz Choir. This was followed ten years later by the London Classical Players, which established Norrington as a leading exponent of historical style.

Royal Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of Sage Gateshead, is the UK’s only full-time chamber orchestra. Founded in 1958, RNS has built a worldwide reputation for the North East through the quality of its music-making and the immediacy of the connections the musicians make with audiences.

The orchestra regularly flies the flag for the region at major festivals, including the BBC Proms, most recently performing Handel’s Water Music at Stage @theDock in Hull – the first Prom performed outside of London since 1930. They appear frequently at venues and festivals in Europe, including La folle journée in Nantes. In recent seasons they have toured to Vienna, Budapest, Istanbul and Tokyo.

RNS has worked with many international conductors and soloists including Christian Tetzlaff, Sir Roger Norrington, Paul McCreesh, Jess Gillam, Nicholas McGegan, Mahan Esfahani, Viktoria Mullova and Jessica Cottis, and also collaborated with leading popular voices such as Sting, Ben Folds, John Grant, Mercury Rev, Field Music and Maxïmo Park.

RNS has commissioned new music by David Lang, John Casken, Tansy Davies, Errollyn Wallen and James Weeks amongst others, and runs an annual Young Composers Competition.

In order to engage with the widest possible range of artists and audiences, in 2018 RNS founded its inclusive ensemble RNS Moves, and also increasingly programmes accessible and relaxed performances throughout the season.

RNS has always been actively involved in local communities and in education. Musicians support young people learning musical instruments through Sage Gateshead’s Centre for Advanced Training and through In Harmony Newcastle.