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Sage Gateshead



Posted on 6 February 2019


Fans of Royal Northern Sinfonia are being celebrated in a special photography exhibition at Sage Gateshead during the orchestra’s 60th anniversary season.

Music lovers of all ages and walks of life have sat for their photograph to be taken by Newcastle-based photographer Michael Olatunji, who captured their emotions whilst they listened to their favourite piece of classical music.

Their portaits are now part of a display outside Sage Gateshead’s famous concert hall (Sage One). The exhibition celebrates the audience, their favourite music and their memories of Royal Northern Sinfonia.

The first instalment is already up and over the course of the 60th anniversary season 60 audience members will feature in the RNS 60@60 Portrait Exhibition.

Ed Murray, 80, of Newcastle, has been supporting RNS for their entire 60-year history and was at their very first concert in 1958 when the orchestra performed his favourite symphony, Brahms’ Symphony No.4 in E minor. He has followed the orchestra ever since and attended his 200th RNS concert in 2018.

Music at Sage Gateshead has become a family affair. His daughter Danielle sings with the Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia and his wife Carol is in the Silver Singers (one of many music groups run at Sage Gateshead). Ed regularly attends RNS concerts with his family or friends.

Speaking about the RNS Home Alone in Concert event he attended, he said: “The versatility of the orchestra is fantastic and it’s great to see them turn their hand to something totally different. I’ve always loved cinema and RNS’ film score concerts are always excellent.”

Sue from Cumbria has been attending Royal Northern Sinfonia concerts since 1977, when she was 17.

She said: “I guess I am a typical classical music lover: white, middle class, in my late 50s, but with one major exception – I am a transvestite.”

She described one of her happiest memories as an RNS audience member:

“A couple of years ago I was sitting on my own having a drink during the interval when an elderly lady came and sat with me,” she said.

“She said she’d noticed me in the audience a number of times and thought I looked fantastic. She said she was old and could die at any time and would hate to do so without having told me.

“She was a complete stranger and, without any need to, simply came over and said probably the nicest thing that anyone has ever said to me. I think that sums up the RNS and its audience perfectly.”

Mario and Alicia Da Silva, aged seven and nine, and their mother Adjami first experienced RNS when the orchestra performed in Alicia’s school – Hawthorn Primary, in Elswick. Hawthorn Primary is part of the inspiring In Harmony project, delivered by Sage Gateshead, which ensures every pupil has access to an orchestral instrument and ensemble.

Members of RNS presented each pupil with an instrument at the start of the programme in 2012. Now the school has 12 ensembles, including an orchestra and a choir. The orchestra still makes regular visits to the school, giving performances, workshops and masterclasses.

Mario and Alicia’s mother Adjami was so enthused when she heard RNS for the first time at Hawthorn Primary that she has since brought her children to the RNS Classics 4 Kids concerts and ‘Sampler’ days.

The exhibition is free to view and will run until the end of the 60th anniversary season in June.

During this time Sage Gateshead is appealing for contributions to help support the social and community work carried out by Royal Northern Sinfonia, enabling them to take the very best in classical music to as wide an audience as possible.

With a target of £60,000 to be met by the end of the 18/19 classical season (June 2019), the appeal is for donations to either mark the year the orchestra was founded with a monthly direct debit of £19.58 or a donation of £60 to help celebrate the 60th anniversary. As an incentive, anyone who donates is entered into a prize draw. The winner is given the opportunity for a quartet/quintet to play in their living room or local community centre and the chance to chat to the musicians afterwards.

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