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How new music helps us through troubled times

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What strange times these are. At the point where we thought we might be coming through the pandemic with new purpose, here we are in a different kind of uncertainty – economic, political, social. And a war. Everything seems fragile and fragmented. There seem to be many more questions than answers.

Of the small number of things which seem certain to me at this time, one is that we need artists and their work. To take us away from the literal, to entertain, enthuse and intrigue, to inspire and to give us connections to other people.

So, as we pick our way through the coming months and years, it’s amazing to see work made by musicians, as it’s created. New music inspires us to look to the future.

In our first decade, Sage Gateshead focussed primarily on performance and education. Over the past five years, we’ve been doing more as a greenhouse for fresh new music from the North East. And in the future we plan to build more pathways for emerging musicians, offering the right support and encouragement at each step of the journey.

We host four Artists in Residence each year, run a fortnight of workshops and studio space each August, offer week-long residencies in Sage Two and run an emerging musicians performance series we call From The Glasshouse. We also invite musicians into support slots in Sage One and host networking, health clinics and advice sessions.

We’re building an inclusive ensemble with Royal Northern Sinfonia, have a group of 30 Young Programmers and work with partners such as Generator, Fenwick, BBC and PRSF to showcase emerging musicians to a wide audience. We’re one part of a much bigger ecology in the region and collectively we’re all creating an environment in which musicians can develop their music here in the North.

Last week we were excited to see so many friends featured in a Guardian article, including Geoff Kirkwood, Jayne Dent, and Late Girl. They have all been part of our Artist Development programme at different points. In fact, the article was published the day before Geoff Kirkwood’s music headlined our main stage, with a piece he created during his artist residency at Sage Gateshead, with Royal Northern Sinfonia.

At the end of this week, we’ve got alt.folk cellist & singer Ceitidh Mac performing in Sage Two and on 7 December former Artist in Residence Martha Hill’s brilliant Dracula the Musical returns to Sage Two. You heard it here first.

Are you a local artist trying to grow your support network? Do you have a project you want to develop but you need the right space? Or maybe, you’re someone looking to enjoy fresh new music being developed in the North East.

If so, there’s plenty to explore here: Artist Development | Sage Gateshead.

Even when so much of what’s ahead of us is unclear, new music, the work artists develop and bring to us, is sure to be part of how we find the way through.