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Sage Gateshead



CoMA Festival – Vocal & Instrumental Workshops

James Weeks


Join members of Royal Northern Sinfonia for an afternoon of workshops, led by James Weeks and Grace Rossiter.

Workshops will cover a variety of repertoire from leading contemporary composers including Howard Skempton and Terry Riley. Tickets include three workshops, with the first two being your choice of either vocal or instrumental options. The third and final workshop includes all participants for a performance of Terry Riley’s Olson III, a piece that is sure to raise the roof!

The instrumental workshops are suitable for players of all orchestral instruments. Participants should be able to play their instruments confidently, with an ability level of around Grade 5 or above (or equivalent). This is just a guide, however, so please don’t be put off if you haven’t reached this level. The singing workshops are open to vocalists of all abilities. All workshop participants should be aged 16 or over.

Choose 1 of the 12noon workshops

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.


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 abilities welcome (music reading required).

Choose 1 of the 2pm workshops

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.


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.

All packages include the 3.30pm workshop

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!


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Enjoy more of the festival with a combined ticket!

Combined tickets: £20 (students/unemployed £10)

This includes the CoMA Workshops and RNS: Listening a World (usually £25 for both).

Click here to build a combined ticket package.

Booking Information

This event is part of CoMA Festival of Contemporary Music for All. A combined ticket for CoMA Workshops and RNS: Listening a World is available for £20. Just add the concert to your workshop package.

View all Festival of Contemporary Music for All events