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“Young Sinfonia Changed My Life"

Posted on 14 February 2019


A composer who began her career with Sage Gateshead’s Young Sinfonia is encouraging other young musicians to join Sage Gateshead’s Young Musicians Programme, reflecting on how it helped to give her the step on to the ladder she needed. Sage Gateshead’s Young Musicians Programme (YMP) is for aspiring young musicians aged 4-19 who are passionate about music and enrolment for the 2019 / 20 Young Musicians Programme opens on the 15th February 2019.

Since starting her music training with Young Sinfonia, Newcastle-born composer Anna Appleby, 25, has written for a range of musicians including opera singers and Royal Northern Sinfonia.

“Young Sinfonia changed my life – I’d never been in a serious/professional musical context before, except for going to concerts and playing in school ensembles, and I suddenly realised just how much there was to learn about classical music and that it was all accessible to me. I also made lots of friends who made me feel accepted and confident and like I belonged there.”

Anna was 15 when she joined Sage Gateshead’s youth orchestra and after only a year on the programme, Anna became principal oboist, travelling to Sweden and Milan to perform with Young Sinfonia.

“I will never forget how emotional I was when I realised I would be performing on stage at Sage Gateshead, let alone on stages abroad and as a principal oboist! Those first concerts made me start taking music more seriously and gave me confidence as a performer.”

Anna went on to study for a Masters in Composition at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester after completing a music degree. Since then, Anna has racked up multiple awards, most recently, she is the recipient of the GDST Trailblazer Award 2018; awarded for her career as a composer so far.

“I don’t think I would have become a composer if it hadn’t been for Young Sinfonia – I remember deciding on my way home from the residential course in Sweden that I had to do music for the rest of my life. I wrote my very first classical compositions for musicians I met through Young Sinfonia.”

Sage Gateshead supports families, children and young people from all backgrounds and a large number of bursaries and grants are available for those wishing to join the programme who may not otherwise have the financial means. Many students don’t pay any fees at all, ensuring that all children and young people are able to study music at Sage Gateshead.

Student Hannah Johnson, aged 15 and from Newcastle, is a pupil on Sage Gateshead’s Centre for Advanced Training (also part of the Young Musicians Programme) and attends with the support of a bursary. Hannah’s Dad, Barry, credits the bursary scheme with allowing Hannah’s musical aspiration to flourish, saying: “Without the bursary nothing would have happened. We wouldn’t have been able to afford it.”

Hannah would also like to take a career path within the music industry: “I am now working towards my grade 5 exam and my aim is to reach grade 8 by the time I’m 18.”

To give you more of an idea of the programme, there is a YMP Open Day on Saturday 16th March where families can speak with staff and tutors, take a guided tour round our music education spaces and see some of our programme in action. For more information visit our Open Day webpage or to book a place please contact

For full details on how to join our Young Musicians Programme, please visit


For further information, interviews or images please contact:

Gaynor Ellis, PR and Communications Manager, Sage Gateshead
E. T. 0191 443 4690

Emily Taylor, PR and Communications Manager, Sage Gateshead
E. T. 0191 443 4617 M. 07793 762 879

Notes to editors:

Sage Gateshead is an international music centre and renowned conference and event venue located in the North East of England. It is for artists, for audiences and for the North.

Every year it welcomes more than two million visitors. More than 400 concerts featuring all kinds of local, regional and international music, take place all year round. Music-making and learning activity takes place not only in the building but across the region, with 190,000 people of all ages taking part in over 10,000 music classes and workshops.

The iconic building, designed by renowned architects Foster + Partners, is home to Royal Northern Sinfonia and is a place where emerging artists are nurtured through dedicated programmes and festivals.

As a charity, the support it receives helps to ensure everyone in the community can experience the joys of music.