Skip to main content

Sage Gateshead

Friday 6 - Sunday 8 March  


CoMA Festival of Contemporary Music for All

CoMA Festival of Contemporary Music for All


Following the success of our festival two years ago, we are once again partnering with CoMA for a weekend of new music. Your chance to hear Royal Northern Sinfonia perform music by the composers of today in different spaces, and the opportunity to participate in a day of contemporary music workshops at Sage Gateshead.

Friday 6 March

Concourse Performance 7.30pm

Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia

Chorus of RNS open the festival with a performance on the Concourse.

Programme to include:

Stephen Chase Lohengrin
Hollie Harding new work
Howard Skempton He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven

Free, no ticket required

RNS: Listening a World

Sage Two 8pm

James Weeks conductor
Royal Northern Sinfonia

A chamber concert featuring music by six of the best and brightest contemporary composers. Music underpinned by the idea of listening afresh to the world around us, environments, places and sounds…

Cassandra Miller O Zomer!
Joanna Bailie Symphony-Street-Souvenir
Oliver Leith Craquelure
Laurence Crane Estonia
James Weeks Düsseldorf
Egidija Medekšaitė Malakosha

Tickets £14.50, Students/Unemployed £5

Saturday 7 March

New Music Trail

A change of scene for RNS musicians, with four concerts in one day at three different venues around the Ouseburn, before finishing at Sage Gateshead with a performance by RNS Moves. Try something different with an afternoon of new music, and enjoy a pint along the way.

  • RNS @ Cobalt Studios, 2pm
    Music by James Weeks and Linda Catlin Smith
  • RNS @ The Cluny, Cluny 2, 3.30pm
    Music by Egidija Medekšaitė and Howard Skempton
  • RNS @ Cumberland Arms, 5pm
    Music by Laurence Crane and William Marsey
  • RNS Moves @ NRFH, Sage Gateshead, 7pm
    Our unique inclusive ensemble of disabled and non-disabled musicians, with a new programme including pieces from the CoMA Songbook.

Free, ticketed 
Ouseburn concerts last approximately 30 mins.

Sunday 8 March

CoMA Workshops

Sage One & NRFH

An afternoon of vocal and instrumental workshops led by James Weeks and Grace Rossiter, including a performance of Terry Riley’s Olson III.

12noon Vocal Workshop:
The music of Howard Skempton

Grace Rossiter director

Renowned conductor Grace Rossiter leads a session exploring the beautiful choral music of Howard Skempton. Works such as Rise up, my love, He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven and The Flight of Song have revealed Skempton as a master of rapturous choral textures and subtle, unexpected harmonic twists. Come and enjoy an introduction to his choral world – singers of all ages and abilities welcome (music reading required).

12noon Instrumental Workshop:
Between sound and silence

James Weeks director

The music of Jürg Frey and Michael Pisaro, poised on the threshold between sound and silence, takes us into a space of deep listening and transforms our sense of the world around us. We will explore some stunning pieces by both composers in this workshop. All welcome – the music is simple and requires the ability to play quietly (or make quiet sounds) and listen. Please note you are required to bring your own instrument.

2pm Vocal Workshop:
CoMA Partsongs – Volume 2

James Weeks director

In 2018 CoMA launched its Partsongs project under the artistic direction of James Weeks, to create a brand-new repertoire of experimental vocal chamber music. After the success of the first volume, a second volume is on the way; and for this weekend CoMA has commissioned four new works, some of which we will look at in this session, including pieces by Alexander Campkin and Hollie Harding. Singers of all abilities welcome.

2pm Instrumental Workshop:
CoMA Open Scores

Grace Rossiter director

CoMA’s Open Score project is at the heart of its vision to create a new repertoire of contemporary compositions that can be tackled by players of all abilities. This session will explore some of the latest additions to the collection by some of today’s leading composers. All players of orchestral instruments welcome. Please note you are required to bring your own instrument.

3.30pm Tutti Workshop:
Terry Riley’s Olson III

James Weeks director

The day culminates in a workshop and rare performance of a minimalist classic: Terry Riley’s Olson III. This sequel of sorts to his signature work In C was written for a Swedish school in 1967 (the music master resigned in protest) and uses the repetition of simple fragments of material to build into an ecstatic, dynamic climax. A wonderful experience to be part of, Olson III requires singers and instruments, as many as possible. Join us and raise the roof!

Workshop Day Tickets £10.50 Students/Unemployed £5

Combined ticket for CoMA Workshops and RNS: Listening a World £20. Combined ticket Students/Unemployed £10.

PRS foundation