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Somewhere beyond La Mer

Posted on 30 January 2020


Royal Northern Sinfonia, resident orchestra at Sage Gateshead, are currently on tour in Nantes, France with Music Director Lars Vogt. Across three days they will perform five concerts of Beethoven’s symphonies and piano concertos.

Flying to Nantes on Wednesday 29 January, the orchestra left Britain as members and citizens of the European Union. When they disembark from their flight home on Saturday 1 February, they return to a Britain that is no longer an EU member state.

Meanwhile, the Orchestre National de Lille (ONL) are at the same time on a concert tour of the UK. The ONL arrived in the UK for their first concert in Birmingham on Tuesday 28 January and will return to France on Sunday 2 February. Their tour includes performances at Symphony Hall, Cadogan Hall, Sage Gateshead, Sheffield City Hall and Leeds Town Hall.

Here’s what our friends at the ONL have said about touring the UK during this historic political period:

“It seems more important than ever to strengthen Franco-British relations. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations between the UK and the EU, the Orchestre National de Lille firmly intends to work towards maintaining ties between the two territories.

“In January 2020 this intention will take the form of a cross-Channel tour, during which the orchestra will represent the cultural standing of its region, mirroring the economic standing of northern businesses.”

Thorben Dittes, Director of Royal Northern Sinfonia and Classical Programme at Sage Gateshead, said: “We are delighted to be welcoming the ONL here and to have our orchestra performing at Cites de Congre in Nantes at the same time. The timing of these two tours is significant in demonstrating our joint will to maintain cultural and musical connections nationally and internationally.

“We are an international orchestra and plan to continue taking our music around Europe and the rest of the world, building relationships with great international artists and ensembles and presenting them at Sage Gateshead.”

Hear the Orchestre National de Lille in concert at Sage Gateshead on Thursday 30 January. Under its inspirational young Music Director Alexandre Bloch, the ONL brings a programme of French music at its most sumptuously colourful, as well as a chance to hear 2018 Leeds Piano Competition winner Eric Lu in Beethoven’s most poetic and personal concerto. They will be performing Debussy’s evocative masterpiece La mer, inspired by the English Channel.