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“The musical power is obvious – we just need more of it!”

Posted on 26 September 2019

Jane Morton image

Royal Northern Sinfonia Dementia Friendly Performance

Media Release: 26th September 2019

A performance from Royal Northern Sinfonia will take place in a supportive and relaxed environment, suited to those with dementia and their families / carers on the 16th October at Sage Gateshead. This is the second dementia friendly performance from the orchestra this year.

Jane Morton, a Dementia Friend volunteer with Tynedale Dementia Action Alliance, attended the last dementia friendly concert with her friend Ann, and found the power of the music had a huge impact:

For almost two years I (Jane) have been visiting my friend Ann, who was diagnosed with dementia in 2014. She is a quiet reserved lady but who is full of fun when you get to know her. She is intelligent and well-read and has been a very creative person that has mastered many craft skills. She has been a lynch pin in her local community – helping with many ongoing projects throughout her adult life. 

Initially things changed slowly after her diagnosis but now she is unable to concentrate for any length of time, her dexterity is continually failing and engaging her in anything for any length of time is challenging. 

We go out once a week and we are constantly looking for activities that are fun and stimulating. We saw Sage Gateshead’s advert for the Royal Northern Sinfonia Dementia Friendly Trout performance and thought we would give it a try. Although she has been to performances before it was not one of her regular pursuits.

 I was unsure how long we would stay in the performance – but I was amazed by my friends’ reaction. She was physically still throughout the performance – fully engaged and obviously enjoying the music. It was a complete surprise to me that we stayed for the whole session – because so often we have to leave early. She was too shy to speak with the musicians afterwards – but she left the performance – emotionally happy and more articulate than usual. 

This feeling and memory stayed with her throughout the day – and although she forgets many outings we do – the pleasure of this memory lived with her for many weeks. 

It was so humbling to see her get so much pleasure from the beauty of the music. I have tried playing the same music in the car when we are travelling – but that does not have the connection – it does not have the magic a musician is able to conjure up with their skill. 

The musical power is obvious – we just need more of it!”

The music venue helps to make this performance accessible for those who with dementia, by adding additional signage around the building, increasing the lighting in the hall and keeping the seating arrangements flexible so audience members feel comfortable at moving around or to come in and out of the hall should they need to.

The RNS chamber music concert takes place on 16th October at 12.30pm and will include music from Stamitz, Elgar and Mozart. A complimentary cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit is included in the ticket price. Tickets are £12.50. Free carer tickets are available if required. Visit: or call Box Office on 0191 443 4661

Listen to Jane speak with Lisa Shaw on BBC Radio Newcastle  (1 hour 20 minutes in to the show)



For further information, interviews or images please contact:

Gaynor Ellis, PR and Communications Manager, Sage Gateshead

  1. E. T. 0191 443 4690

Emily Taylor, PR and Communications Manager, Sage Gateshead

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


Notes to Editors:


Tynedale Dementia Action Alliance (DAA)


DAA are working together to create and support Dementia Friendly Communities across Tynedale. It was set up to enhance the quality of life for those affected by dementia, so they can continue to feel a valued part of their community, feel supported to remain independent and have choice and control over their lives.

The ‘Dementia Friends’ programme is part of this and aims to increase understanding and awareness and change people’s perception of dementia. It aims to transform the way people think, act and talk about the condition. 

Tynedale’s Big Sing for BBC Music Day event takes place this Thursday 26th September.
Tynedale will be celebrating and joining in with other communities across Northumberland for the ‘Big Sing’
They’ll all be singing the same song at the same time of 11am.


Sage Gateshead

Sage Gateshead is a ‘Dementia Friendly’ venue.

We present around 400 events and festivals each year for a live audience of 350,000, 6 million people hear our work via stream or broadcast and 500,000 visit our building, often national and international visitors. Each year we support over 100 musicians through our artist development programme and we work with 30,000 children and young people and 20,000 adults in our creative learning programme.

We are home to the acclaimed Royal Northern Sinfonia as well as our popular, annual festivals SummerTyne Americana and Folk on the Tyne. We are dedicated to supporting emerging artists, as well as established names, offering residencies such as our Summer Studio and Folkworks Summer Schools.

Alongside our music performance and learning offer, our iconic building, designed by Foster & Partners, provides the perfect venue to over 100 conferences and events a year.

As a charity, the financial support we receive from Gateshead Metropolitan Borough Council, Arts Council England and our donors helps to ensure everyone in the community can experience the joys of music. Positioned as one of Arts Council England’s National Portfolio Organisation, our continued ambition for the future is to work to significantly to increase the number and range of people connected with music.

In our first decade, our economic impact was £283 million. We are for audiences, for artists, for the North and for the long-term. Everything we do is guided by our values: Creative, Diverse, Focused, Leading, Responsible.


Royal Northern Sinfonia


Lars Vogt Music Director

Julian Rachlin Principal Guest Conductor

Thomas Zehetmair Conductor Laureate

Karin Hendrickson Assistant Conductor, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Music Director, Young 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, and in recent seasons have toured to Vienna, Budapest, Istanbul and Tokyo.

RNS has always been actively involved in local communities and in education. This season the orchestra will perform across the region in Kendal, Middlesbrough, Carlisle, Berwick and Sunderland, and will once again take their Christmas by Candlelight tour to regional churches. Musicians support young people learning musical instruments through Sage Gateshead’s Centre for Advanced Training and through the In Harmony project.


Arts Council England is the national development body for arts and culture across England, working to enrich people’s lives. We support a range of activities across the arts, museums and libraries – from theatre to visual art, reading to dance, music to literature, and crafts to collections. Great art and culture inspires us, brings us together and teaches us about ourselves and the world around us. In short, it makes life better. Between 2018 and 2022, we will invest £1.45 billion of public money from government and an estimated £860 million from the National Lottery to help create these experiences for as many people as possible across the country.