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Here for Christmas

Posted on 18 October 2021

The Snowman Christmas

Sage Gateshead is here for seasonal favourites, festive nights out and family fun for audiences, artists and the North.

Sage Gateshead has the seasonal sparkle to make your Christmas extra special this year.

Sage Gateshead announces 1,000 tickets at £5 and £2.50 for people in the North East who want to come to Sage Gateshead for the first time this Christmas.

From evenings packed with West End classics to The Messiah and favourites like Kate Rusby and The Sixteen, Sage Gateshead has a huge range of warming winter treats to make Christmas extra special this year.

Royal Northern Sinfonia fill hearts with seasonal favourites on Sunday 5 December with RNS: Christmas Classics. Joined by the Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia, the evening includes Winter from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons, Tchaikovsky’s sumptuous Nutcracker Suite No.1 and everybody’s favourite Christmas carols.

Kate Rusby brings her humour and storytelling to Kate Rusby at Christmas on Thursday 9 December, inviting us into Sage One to share the traditional Yorkshire carols of her youth sung in Yorkshire pubs each Sunday lunchtime through November and December.

Christmas isn’t complete for some without the magical sound of The Sixteen. In their Christmas special on Friday 10 December their festive programme centres around Bob Chilcott’s evocative and atmospheric double-choir O antiphons and two stunning settings of the Conditor – the hymn for advent – by Victoria and Guerrero, as well as a mix of traditional carols and festive favourites.

The award-winning Irish folk singer Cara Dillon captures the mystery of Christmas in the show based on her acclaimed first Christmas album Upon A Winter’s Night, in Sage Two on Friday 10 December. A wonderful mix of Christmas classics sit alongside three songs written by Cara and her longtime musical partner Sam Lakeman including Upon A Winter’s Night and Standing by my Christmas Tree.

The glamour of the West End comes to the North East this Christmas, with an evening of the biggest musical theatre hits in RNS: A West End Christmas on Saturday 11 December. Alfonso Casado Trigo conducts Royal Northern Sinfonia and a cast of huge West End and Broadway stars including Kelly Mathieson, Caroline Sheen, Nadim Naaman and Scott Davies. Expect favourites from the likes of Phantom of the Opera, Chicago, Mary Poppins and more… plus some festive showtunes!

Have a great night out at Sage Gateshead’s Curious Winter Cabaret with a double bill of performances by highly acclaimed musician Beccy Owen and Birmingham’s ‘queen of disco’, Fatt Butcher on Thursday 16 December.

Songs and festive cheer from the North country for a bright new Winter’s day! Jez Lowe’s annual Christmas tour has become quite a tradition in recent years, striking out from his native North East England to entertain audiences across the whole of the UK. Award-winning songwriter Jez Lowe will be joined by his intrepid touring band The Bad Pennies at Sage Gateshead on Friday 17 December, so expect a musical feast of guitar, cittern, fretless bass, fiddle, melodeon, piano, whistles and their trademark harmony vocals!

It wouldn’t be Christmas without Handel’s Messiah, now established as part of our Christmas traditions. This year Huddersfield Choral Society join Royal Northern Sinfonia in Sage One on Saturday 18 December to sing it. Young Sinfonia will take to the stage of Sage One too that evening to give audiences a pre-concert treat.

A seasonal favourite, A Jazzy Christmas – Paul Edis and Friends returns to Sage Gateshead on Wednesday 22 December. Featuring new arrangements of festive favourites penned by ‘brilliant young pianist’ Paul Edis and performed by some of the leading lights on the UK jazz scene.

Christmas would not be complete until you’ve been to Sage Gateshead and let yourself be whisked off into the cold, starry night by The Snowman. This enchanting screening of the family favourite film, narrated by music leader Eleanor Mooney, is accompanied live by Royal Northern Sinfonia and runs from Wednesday 22 to Friday 24 December.

Finishing off the seasonal celebrations is the Royal Northern Sinfonia’s New Year’s Day Concert. Conducted by Alexandre Bloch, bring in 2022 with waltzes and polkas by the Strauss family in the Viennese tradition.

Sage Gateshead is also here for those that like to get involved and hands on; there are various opportunities to make music at Sage Gateshead this Christmas from a short course in Christmas Choir Singing starting on 12 November, to Sing the Hallelujah Chorus, Uke Rock Christmas Edition, Sing Abba’s Greatest Hits, or a day long workshop on Fiddles at Christmas.

In what has been a challenging 18 months for so many, the organisation wants to ensure everyone can join in with a Sage Gateshead Christmas. To help, Sage Gateshead will offer 1,000 £5 and £2.50 tickets across the Christmas season, to North East audiences coming to the venue for the first time. The charity hopes this offer will be particularly helpful to those who might otherwise be unable to afford tickets. The first tickets made available are for Royal Northern Sinfonia concerts in December, which can be purchased by phoning the Box Office on 0191 443 4661.

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director of Sage Gateshead, said: “Many people feel like they missed out on the Christmas they longed for last year. This year we want to make sure that Sage Gateshead not only offers a wonderful range of Christmas concerts and activities to make it an extra special time, but also makes that affordable and accessible to as many as possible which is why we’ve made 1000 £5 and £2.50 tickets available for new audiences. We really hope that in looking to make this an extra special Christmas, some people will discover a night out at Sage Gateshead for the first time.”

All this also takes place to the backdrop of an ongoing financial challenge for the organisation. Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the venue has largely been closed since March 2020, with 80% of its income affected. This year, its income is set to be half of that in a pre-Covid year. Alongside the support of the Culture Recovery Fund from Arts Council England and DCMS, the charity again needs to raise £1m this year and £1m next year to secure its future, rebuild live music in the region and ensure music is part of everybody’s recovery.


The Snowman © Snowman Enterprises Ltd. 1982, 2021

For media enquiries, images and interviews please contact
Susie Gray, 07834 073795
Jackie Thompson, 0191 443 4602

About Royal Northern Sinfonia

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 audience, 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, performing regularly across the region in places like Kendal, Middlesbrough, Carlisle, Berwick and Sunderland. Musicians support young people learning musical instruments through Sage Gateshead’s Centre for Advance Training and through In Harmony Newcastle.

About Sage Gateshead

  • Sage Gateshead is an international music centre for the North East and wider North. Through music, creative learning and artist development, the organisation shows what music can achieve for communities.
  • Since opening in 2004, Sage Gateshead has worked side by side with partners and the wider community to help address the complex blend of social and economic challenges the region faces.
  • Sage Gateshead continues to be a major employer and has brought investment and tourism into the region, generating c. £500 million contribution to the local economy, a sum six times greater than its combined capital cost.
  • Sage Gateshead has brought social, cultural and educational value to over 10 million people and millions more via digital and broadcast activity. The scale of its artistic, learning and artist development activity places Sage Gateshead amongst the UK’s largest cultural organisations, while reaching a substantially more socially and economically diverse audience.
  • Pre-pandemic Sage Gateshead attracted 2 million visitors; 5,000 people took part in weekly music classes; 17,854 school children experienced live orchestral music and we worked with a further 2,418 vulnerable young people; more than 2,000 adults a week took part in music making designed to tackle social isolation.
  • The North East region is one of the worst affected by Covid-19. The region will be one where the recovery is slow and hard. Arts and culture have a pivotal role to play in regional and nation-wide recovery.
  • Covid-19 presents a major financial challenge to Sage Gateshead, the iconic Foster + Partners designed NE landmark. 80% of its income has been affected, and in 2020/21 £10 million in revenue was lost. The organisation has taken swift action to overcome this crisis. 90% of the workforce was placed on furlough, significant cost savings have been sought and found, and it launched a fundraising campaign to raise £3 million to help secure the organisation during the next three years. Further challenges lie ahead; in 2021/22, Sage Gateshead estimates box office and trading income to be less than half of what would be expected in a normal year.
  • Sage Gateshead temporarily closed to the public on 17 March 2020, five days ahead of the announcement of the national lockdown. Sage Gateshead recommenced performances in October 2020 with a season of socially distanced concerts featuring Royal Northern Sinfonia and artists across genres, made available by live stream; audiences were able to be present in the hall for two weekends of those performances.
  • In 2020 Sage Gateshead received a grant of £2.8 million from the Culture Recovery Fund Round One to help it through the pandemic and associated financial crisis. In 2021 the charity received a loan of £3m from the Culture Recovery Fund Round Two to support recovery. It has thanked the Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and Arts Council England for this vital support.