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Sage Gateshead



Posted on 6 June 2019


Royal Northern Sinfonia has launched its Young Composers’ Competition, which will form part of the orchestra’s Beethoven celebrations next season.

With 2020 marking 250 years since Beethoven’s birth, Royal Northern Sinfonia will commission five young composers to write a piece for chamber orchestra in response to his body of work. The new pieces will be performed by the orchestra around the North East as part of a Beethoven symphony cycle in 2020.

Last year’s winner was Alex Dakin, a University of Manchester music student, who won with his work ‘Firework Spirals’. It was premiered at Sage Gateshead in January.

He said: “It was a real honour and privilege to have my piece premiered by Royal Northern Sinfonia.

“The workshop was a great learning experience in the practicalities of writing for chamber orchestra, and it inspired some vital revisions to all of the shortlisted composers’ works. The orchestra did a fantastic job with the pieces.”

The deadline for submissions is Monday June 17. Those shortlisted will be asked to develop a piece from their proposal which will then be workshopped by Royal Northern Sinfonia in the autumn. Five composers will then be commissioned to complete their original piece to be performed by Royal Northern Sinfonia. They will also receive £1,000 each.

The competition is open to all students, including EU citizens currently studying full or part-time at a UK university or conservatoire at undergraduate or post-graduate level during the 19/20 academic year.

Previously performed or commissioned works, and previously shortlisted composers or award winners are not eligible.

For more details on how to apply visit


For further information, interviews or images please contact:

Emily Taylor, PR and Communications Manager, Sage Gateshead

  1. E. T. 0191 443 4617 M. 07793 762 879


Gaynor Ellis, PR and Communications Manager, Sage Gateshead

  1. E. T. 0191 443 4690


Notes to editors:


Photo: Last year’s winner Alex Dakin with Thorben Dittes, Director, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Classical Music Programme, Sage Gateshead and conductor Jessica Cottis.

Royal Northern Sinfonia

Lars Vogt Music Director

Julian Rachlin Principal Guest Conductor

Thomas Zehetmair Conductor Laureate


Royal Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of Sage Gateshead, is the UK’s only full-time chamber orchestra. Founded in 1958, RNS has built a world-wide 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 the Edinburgh Festival and the BBC Proms, this year performing Handel’s Water Music at The Stage @ the Dock in Hull – the first Prom performed outside of London since 1930. They appear frequently at venues and festivals in Europe, and last season toured in South America, China and South Korea.


RNS has worked with conductors and soloists Christian Tetzlaff, Olli Mustonen, Reinhard Goebel, Katrina Canellakis and Nicholas McGegan; a host of world class singers including Sally Matthews, Karen Cargill and Elizabeth Watts, and collaborated with leading popular voices such as Sting, Ben Folds, John Grant and Mercury Rev.


RNS has commissioned new music and 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, a long-term programme in Hawthorn Primary School in which every child in the school learns a musical instrument and plays in an orchestra.


For more info visit

Sage Gateshead is an international music centre and renowned conference and event venue located in the North East of England. It is for artists, for audiences and for the North.


Every year it welcomes more than two million visitors. More than 400 concerts featuring all kinds of local, regional and international music, take place all year round. Music-making and learning activity takes place not only in the building but across the region, with 190,000 people of all ages taking part in over 10,000 music classes and workshops.


The iconic building, designed by renowned architects Foster + Partners, is home to Royal Northern Sinfonia and is a place where emerging artists are nurtured through dedicated programmes and festivals.


As a charity, the support it receives helps to ensure everyone in the community can experience the joys of music.