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Sage Gateshead




For the first time ever, RNS Moves, an inclusive ensemble of disabled and non-disabled musicians, joins forces with Royal Northern Sinfonia for a special celebration of music evoking the inimitable sights and sounds of the sea.

Since its inception, RNS Moves has performed five times at Sage Gateshead, and this concert marks a significant step in its journey to perform more regularly as well as work with national and international partners on larger collaborations and commissions.

RNS Moves came out of a joint project with Candoco Dance Company, a world-leading professional dance company which includes disabled and non-disabled dancers. RNS players wanted to learn about their inclusive practise, and explore whether as a group it was possible to match this musically.  Out of that project came RNS Moves, and the group was launched as a more regular ensemble during RNS’s Big Birthday Bash in 2018, as part of the orchestra’s 60th Anniversary celebrations.

RNS Moves has auditioned nationwide to find more professional disabled musicians to join the pool of players for the group, including Clarence Adoo who said of his experience with the ensemble: “This is a real beacon of high-quality playing, unique around the world. We’ve created an inclusive group. It doesn’t matter if someone has a disability – music makes a connection to all of us and people can create on all levels.”

Sage Gateshead, fittingly located on the River Tyne, is the perfect home for this nautically themed programme, directed by RNS’ co-leader Kyra Humphreys.  Mendelssohn braves wild Scottish seas, Vivaldi whips up a storm, and Handel puts a full orchestra on board a rowing boat for the ultimate 18th century pleasure cruise – voyaging from Takemitsu’s Pacific vistas to Grace Williams’ Welsh coast.

RNS Moves is known for its innovative and imaginative approach to classical music, frequently performing new music by contemporary composers, and together with RNS will be performing a world premiere by British composer Joe Cutler.

2020-23 Crisis, Recovery and Renaissance campaign

The Covid-19 pandemic created a financial emergency for Sage Gateshead. In 2020/21, 80% of its income was affected and the organisation had to adapt. They have weathered the storm thanks to the support of many generous people and organisations, and the investment from Arts Council England and DCMS.

Looking ahead, the impact of the pandemic will be felt deeply. Sage Gateshead is determined to play a proactive role in its region’s recovery. Meanwhile, operational and financial challenges continue, with box office and trading income set to be half of that in a pre-Covid year. This year, it again needs to raise £1 million through its Crisis, Recovery and Renaissance campaign, to ensure it can continue to share world-class music including by its fantastic orchestra, support its communities’ health and wellbeing, and create inspiring educational opportunities.

Those who would like to help Sage Gateshead and Royal Northern Sinfonia, can donate online on or get in touch with


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RNS Moves is a unique, inclusive ensemble which brings together musicians with and without disabilities to rehearse and perform here at Sage Gateshead. The group features members of Royal Northern Sinfonia performing alongside disabled musicians, including Clarence Adoo.

Clarence was a trumpet player in Royal Northern Sinfonia before he was left paralysed from the neck down following a car accident. He now continues to play music using his electronic Headspace instrument. Here Clarence describes his involvement with RNS Moves, and what it has meant to him personally and professionally: “Royal Northern Sinfonia is a world-class orchestra and it’s a real challenge to be in an ensemble that is playing at that level for me physically. Mentally it is really rewarding.”

“We had an amazing, wonderful time with these fantastic dancers plus a great combination of six or seven RNS players and a few of my disabled friends, who we brought in to be part of that ensemble. As a group of musicians we really enjoyed ourselves, and the challenges we had of bringing the ensemble together. Everyone who came to hear us thought it was special.”

“There are no musical limits to our repertoire, and what we can achieve or arrange between us. It’s quite an eclectic group of instruments. As a group we’ve sometimes played with four string players, an oboe player, a modern Headspace instrument (offering a kind of electronic synthesiser sound or harpsichord), a saxophone and an electric guitar. Where the interest lies is how we take music that is well-known and adapt it ourselves. We connect our modern and inclusive building and instruments to the music from years ago, alongside new commissions and specially composed works.”

“It is extremely rare across the world to have a combination of disabled musicians playing with able-bodied musicians of this standard, mainly because of the practical challenges. The ensemble had to think of the structure it has for rehearsing and venues etc., and some of the traditional working ways of a conventional orchestra have had to be broken down and changed; there has been incredible flexibility.”

Find out more about RNS Moves.


About Sage Gateshead

  • Sage Gateshead is an international music centre for the North East and wider North, and is home to the acclaimed Royal Northern Sinfonia. Through music, creative learning and artist development, the organisation shows what music can achieve for communities. It is for audiences, for artists, for the North and for the long term.
  • 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.


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.