Part of After Dark Festival
Dinis Sousa conductor
Philip Nelson double bass
Royal Northern Sinfonia
Sara Mohr-Pietsch host
Sonia Killmann visual artist
Missy Mazzoli Dark with Excessive Bright, for solo double bass and strings (12′)
John Luther Adams Dream in White on White (18′)
Gavin Bryars Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet (25′)
A key event in BBC Radio 3 and Sage Gateshead’s After Dark Festival, we’re once again removing the seats in Sage One to create an immersive event like no other. Be enveloped in a relaxed atmosphere with a setlist of contemporary classical music performed by RNS and led by Principal Conductor Dinis Sousa. In turns minimalist and hypnotic, pulsating and meditative, with atmospheric visuals and lighting… this is an evening that will transform how you experience our sound.
We are excited to be collaborating again with Sonia Killmann on RNS Immersion, a multimedia artist from Belgium who explores the relationship between sound and environment, through bold colours and immersive soundscapes. Sonia’s visuals will respond to and reflect the music, transporting the listener to a different world.
www.sonia-killmann.com | @soniakillmann_sound
ℹ️ Useful Information
Children under 14 must be accompanied by an adult
🚧 Construction works near Sage Gateshead
Site preparation works have now commenced on the NewcastleGateshead Quays development, to the east of Sage Gateshead. This means changes to the South Shore Road Car Park, pedestrian and car routes. Find out more.
Dark with Excessive Bright
While composing Dark with Excessive Bright for contrabass soloist Maxime Bibeau and the Australian Chamber Orchestra, I continuously listened to music from the Baroque and Renaissance eras. I was inspired in no small part by Maxime’s double bass, a massive instrument built in 1580 that was stored in an Italian monastery for hundreds of years and even patched with pages from the Good Friday liturgy. I imagined this instrument as a historian, an object that collected the music of the passing centuries in the twists of its neck and the fibers of its wood, finally emerging into the light at age 400 and singing it all into the world. While loosely based in Baroque idioms, this piece slips between string techniques from several centuries, all while twisting a pattern of repeated chords beyond recognition. “Dark with excessive bright,” a phrase from Milton’s Paradise Lost, is a surreal and evocative description of God, written by a blind man. I love the impossibility of this phrase, and felt it was a strangely accurate way to describe the dark but heartrending sound of the double bass itself. Dark with Excessive Bright was commissioned by the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Aurora Orchestra in London. In 2019 I arranged the work for solo violin and string orchestra.
© Missy Mazzoli
Dream in White on White
The treeless, windswept landscapes of Western Alaska have long made a powerful impression on me. For much of the year this is a place of seemingly endless, pristine whiteness. In spring, with the return of the sun, the presence of this country is especially overwhelming.
Dream In White On White is a musical response to these landscapes and to the non-chromatic (“white”) tones and acoustically-perfect intervals of Pythagorean diatonic tuning.
There are other “white” associations as well. The sounds are predominantly long, broad washes of whole and half notes – “white notes” of a different sort. The scoring – with predominant harmonics, unstopped tones, mutes and no vibrato – creates peculiarly “white” tonal hues. And the title is distantly related to Kasimir Malevich’s suprematist canvas, White On White.
© John Luther Adams
Jesus' Blood Never Failed Me Yet
While working in 1971 with Alan Power on a documentary film about London’s homeless, composer and double-bassist Gavin Bryers made use of a recording of an unnamed man on the street singing an unfamiliar religious song, Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet, that had been cut from the footage. In a sound lab Bryers added a simple piano accompaniment to a loop of the tape recording. On taking a short break he left the tape running with the door open – only to find on his return that some of his colleagues were in tears.
Bryers writes: ‘This convinced me of the emotional power of the music and of the possibilities offered by adding a simple, though gradually evolving, orchestral accompaniment that respected the homeless man’s nobility and simple faith. Although he died before he could hear what I had done with his singing, the piece remains as an eloquent, but understated testimony to his spirit and optimism.’ A 25-minute version was premiered at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in December 1972, and recorded for Brian Eno’s Obscure label in 1975. A longer version in 1993 featured Tom Waits singing along with the original recording of the man’s song, and in 1981 French choreographer Maguy Marin used the piece as the score for her Beckett-inspired work May B. Such recognition never came during the life of the homeless singer. There is no record even of his name.
© Richard C Yates
Dinis Sousa, conductor
In September 2021, Dinis Sousa begins his tenure as Principal Conductor of the Royal Northern Sinfonia, following his appointment earlier in the year. Dinis is also the Founder and Artistic Director of Orquestra XXI, an award-winning orchestra which brings together some of the best young Portuguese musicians from around Europe.
Philip Nelson, double bass
Born in Germany into a family of American musicians, Philip began double bass lessons at age 6 with his father. In 2015 Philip received a full scholarship from the ABRSM to attend the Royal College of Music. After graduating, he freelanced across the UK and Europe until assuming the position as Section Leader Double Bass with Royal Northern Sinfonia in 2020.
Royal Northern 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.
ℹ️ Ticketing Information
FULL FESTIVAL PASS – £30
This best-value, all-access pass gets you in to any of the gigs in Sage One and Two, our full range of wrap-around activities and is valid for the entire duration of the event. Book Now.
SINGLE GIG TICKET – £15
Just fancy one of the gigs in Sage One and Two? This is the ticket for you. Choose your single gig in advance and then you’re also able to enjoy the full range of wrap-around activities until you choose to leave.
AFTER-MIDNIGHT TICKET – £10
If you’re a night owl / early riser, join us for the range of activities later on and up until sunrise, this is the best option for you. This ticket permits entry to the building from midnight and is valid for any activities taking place until the end of the event. Book Now.