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Sage Gateshead




Today Royal Northern Sinfonia announces its summer programme of music.  Audiences can enjoy six concerts featuring the best of RNS’s talent as well as a new collaboration with Nevill Holt Opera Company.

On Friday 8 April, conductor Paul McCreesh assembles a massed choir and the full Royal Northern Sinfonia to perform some of the happiest and most glorious music ever written for English coronations, by turns majestic, joyful and profoundly beautiful. In the year of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, An English Coronation is a musical celebration to stir the heart and touch the spirit.

For the second concert, Baroque music expert and dazzling violinist Rachel Podger takes the spotlight on Friday 22 April to perform the timeless work of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. Three centuries after they were composed, they’re as fresh and tuneful as ever – and there’s still nothing to beat the sensation of hearing these four brilliant concertos performed live in concert.  Podger also performs three more baroque gems by Telemann and Corelli: expect wit, drama and pure sonic splendour.

Then on Friday 29 April, RNS leader Maria Włoszczowska and pianist Alasdair Beatson share a magical tribute to the spirit of a city that has entranced musicians for centuries, in Aus Wien – Vienna in my Heart. Youthful masterpieces by Mendelssohn, Strauss and Webern quiver with energy and passion: Liszt takes the music of Schubert and gives it a flamboyant makeover. And two great musical friends, Brahms and Schumann, dance a graceful waltz through fantasy and reality: music to charm, to delight, and to seduce.

On 2 May, taking inspiration straight from the most musical of cities into our own city centre for Vienna Chamber Music Trail, join Alasdair Beatson and ensembles of RNS musicians for a day of glorious Viennese-inspired chamber music.  While giving you occasion to explore some of Newcastle City Centre’s most intriguing churches, the musicians will perform chamber music by composers most closely and directly associated with Vienna. We start in Gallowgate’s medieval St Andrew’s, then move right to the heart of the city to St John the Baptist, and finish our trail in the recently restored Georgian splendour of All Saints church on the Quayside.

Lars Vogt, taking after the composer himself, conducts and plays the piano concertos of Mozart on Friday 13 May. Mozart’s 21st piano concerto is one of those pieces that you’ll already know, even if you don’t realise it, and Lars Vogt pairs it with two pieces that he absolutely loves. Schumann’s Manfred overture whips up a storm, and then we’re off to the Bohemian countryside of Dvorák’s Sixth Symphony: summer sunshine and joyous dance-rhythms, from a composer who believed you could never have too many good tunes.

Lars will also undoubtedly bring an exciting and unique perspective in Piano Greats: Lars Vogt, featuring three of his of all-time favourite piano sonatas: Janáček’s dramatic Piano Sonata No.1, almost lost forever when the composer tore up the score in a fit of self-doubt after the premiere; Mozart’s joyously colourful Piano Sonata in B-flat major; and Beethoven’s magnificent masterpiece ‘Hammerklavier’, widely regarded as one of his most challenging compositions.

Join Royal Northern Sinfonia and director/violinist Kyra Humphreys on Friday 27 May for an evening of chamber music with a distinctly French flavour, all chosen by the players themselves.  The French Connection brings together the From the Baroque brilliance of Boismortier and Marais to recent compositions by Karim Al-Zand and Salim Dada, both born in former French colonies in North Africa, the programme showcases lesser-known chamber works alongside Romantic favourites by Saint-Saëns and Gounod.

Closing off the season in style on Saturday 11 June, RNS’ Principal Conductor Dinis Sousa brings a fresh perspective to often overlooked, 19th century Swedish composer Helena Munktell – whether it’s Brahms’s heartfelt, tempestuous final symphony, or the fire and ice of Sibelius’s epic Violin Concerto. And to bring her own brand of passion to this final concert of our season, RNS is thrilled to welcome Alena Baeva, a violinist whose playing has been called “utterly ravishing”.

The Six classical concerts are accompanied by a continuation of RNS’ hugely successful collaboration with Nevill Holt, as Dinis Sousa conducts one of the most iconic operas of all time: The Barber of Seville.  Rossini’s sparkling comedy of deception and disguises fizzes with exquisite music and memorable melodies. Be entertained by Figaro’s exploits as he and Count Almaviva work together to remove the beautiful Rosina from her lecherous guardian.

The cast features a host of highly acclaimed names and rising stars of British Opera, including Katie Bray, winner of the Dame Joan Sutherland Audience Prize at Cardiff Singer of the World 2019, who plays Rosina and Scottish tenor Liam Bonthrone who plays Count Almaviva.

 Thorben Dittes said“After the Covid-enforced absence we are delighted to continue Royal Northern Sinfonia’s very successful collaboration with Nevill Holt Opera, which brings such high quality operatic performances to both the East Midlands and the North East. We are especially pleased that the orchestra’s new Principal Conductor, Dinis Sousa will be able to showcase his wonderful flair to audiences in Rossini’s most popular opera in both the unique setting of Nevill Holt and our home at Sage Gateshead.”

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


For further information, interviews or images please contact:
Jackie Thompson

E:  M:0191 443 4602


Susie Gray, The Corner Shop PR

E: M: 07834 073795


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.