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The Glasshouse


Posted on 28 October 2020


Elles Bailey

Following its first live performances since March 2020 last weekend, Sage Gateshead announces the latest line-up for Sage Live 2020, a series of live performances running from October until December.

The full series is also live streamed, opening up performances beyond the 300 capacity the venue is able to accommodate due to social distancing.

This announcement follows the news that Sage Gateshead has been awarded £1.8 million from the government’s Cultural Recovery Fund. This support, along with the ongoing £3 million fundraising campaign, will help the organisation through to March 2021.

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director of Sage Gateshead said:

‘Since March 2020 we have remained steadfast in our commitment to audiences, musicians, and the vital importance of live music. Until recently this meant moving our work online, including all of our work with young people, our adult classes and our work supporting emerging musicians, all of which has been reaching thousands of people each week from across the North East.

“People have been telling us how much they have missed, and need, live music in their lives, and we are delighted to be able to continue this varied series of high quality work, offering audiences brilliant music that is familiar, alongside newer or less familiar work that speaks to our lives right now. The reaction so far has been wonderful.”

The concerts mark a return to live music for the iconic venue and represent the very best of Sage Gateshead, including performances from Royal Northern Sinfonia and leading contemporary musicians.

During these next concerts, Royal Northern Sinfonia performs well known works from the classical repertoire. Programmes include Mahler’s orchestral reworking of Schubert’s great Death and the Maiden quartet, directed from the violin by Alina Ibragimova; Mendelssohn’s irrepressible Italian Symphony, conducted by the young Portuguese conductor Dinis Sousa; and RNS-commissioned arrangements for chamber orchestra by Iain Farrington of Debussy’s Prélude a l’après midi d’un faune and La Mer, featuring RNS Chamber-Pianist-in-Residence Alasdair Beatson. The final programme, conducted by Duncan Ward, will include Louise Farrenc’s stormy third symphony, which the orchestra performed to great acclaim last season.

The series also features unique performances from RNS Moves, an inclusive ensemble of disabled and non-disabled musicians; Sage Gateshead favourites The Futureheads performing a special acoustic show; Americana rising star Elles Bailey, and a rare show from British-Bahraini trumpet player Yazz Ahmed.

RNS Moves, which features members of Royal Northern Sinfonia performing alongside colleagues such as Clarence Adoo, performs a typically eclectic mix showcasing the virtuosity and versatility of the group, including pieces by Shostakovich, Vivaldi, Sally Beamish and Joe Cutler.

Tickets for RNS Moves are pay what you decide, enabling audiences to choose how much to pay for a ticket.

Sunderland post-punk four-piece The Futureheads’ show features a mix of acoustic and a cappella song arrangements, intricate four-part vocal harmonies and plenty of audience banter.

UK Americana Award winner Elles Bailey’s performance will include songs from her critically-acclaimed second album of rootsy, soulful blues and country, Road I Call Home.

Yazz Ahmed’s performance is a rare occasion to experience her album Polyhymnia performed live in its entirety, by a 12-piece ensemble, featuring musicians from her Hafla band, players from the album and friends.

Tickets for these next Sage Live concerts go on sale at midday on Thursday 29 October.

Sage Gateshead hopes to welcome both regular and new audience members. The venue has adapted its spaces, offering audiences a safe yet warm and welcoming experience. Patrons will have the option of booking a table on the Concourse before each show, where they can enjoy a drink and free live music from the Concourse stage. Concerts will also be live streamed.

An allocation of free tickets is available to all shows for Health and Social Care workers and Gateshead residents attending for the first time.

The safety of everyone who uses the building remains a top priority, with carefully planned social distancing measures in place on stage, in the auditorium, and throughout all areas of the building. Concerts will be in Sage One, using only 300 of the 1,700 seats to ensure that households can be safely distanced.

During lockdown the charity launched a major fundraising campaign, Crisis, Recovery and Renaissance, aiming to raise £3 million over three years.

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director of Sage Gateshead said:

“We are incredibly grateful to Arts Council England for their £1.8 million grant from the government’s Culture Recovery Fund. This grant will help to secure Sage Gateshead’s survival through to spring 2021, to offer music to audiences and communities through this winter, and to plan for culture to be at the heart of our region’s recovery.

“Thank you to everyone who has already supported our fundraising campaign. We still need to raise £700,000 this year to safeguard our charity, so If you can, please help to support our future. You can give online, at our venue, or by calling one of the team’.


For further information, interviews or images please contact:
Jackie Thompson, Marketing & Communications Manager, Sage Gateshead

Notes to Editors

Sage Live 2020: Full programme listing


Friday 13 November
Royal Northern Sinfonia
Alina Ibragimova director/violin
George Walker Lyric for Strings
Bach E Major Violin Concerto
Schubert Death and the Maiden

Saturday 14 November
Yazz Ahmed
Pre-Concert performance: Archipelago

Friday 20 November
Royal Northern Sinfonia
Dinis Sousa conductor
Stravinsky Pulcinella Suite
Caroline Shaw Entr’acte
Mendelssohn Symphony No.4

Saturday 21 November
Elles Bailey

Friday 27 November
Royal Northern Sinfonia

Kyra Humphreys director/violin
Alasdair Beatson piano
Debussy (arr. Farrington) Prélude a l’après midi d’un faune
Sally Beamish Piano Concerto No.1: Hill Stanzas
Debussy (arr. Farrington) La Mer

Saturday 28 November
RNS Moves
Pre-concert performance: Joe Snape

Saturday 4 December
Royal Northern Sinfonia
Duncan Ward conductor
Schumann Overture, Scherzo, and Finale Op.52
Berlioz Rêverie et caprice
Farrenc Symphony No.3

Sunday 5 December
The Futureheads
Pre-Concert performance: Jodie Nicholson

  • Since opening 15 years ago, Sage Gateshead has worked side by side with partners and the wider community to help address the complex blend of social and economic challenges the region faces.
  • Sage Gateshead continues to be major employer and has brought investment and tourism into the region, generating c. £500 million contribution to the local economy.
  • More importantly, Sage Gateshead has brought social, cultural and educational value to over 10 million people and millions more via digital and broadcast activity.
  • Last year Sage Gateshead attracted 2 million visitors; 5,000 people took part in weekly music classes; 17,854 school children experienced live orchestral music and we worked with a further 2,418 vulnerable young people; more than 2,000 adults a week took part in music making designed to tackle social isolation.
  • The North East region is one of the worst affected by Covid-19. The region will be one where the recovery is slow and hard. Arts and culture have a pivotal role to play in regional and nation-wide recovery.
  • Covid-19 presents a major financial challenge to Sage Gateshead, the iconic Foster + Partners designed NE landmark.  80% of its income has been affected, and in 2020-21 £10 million in revenue will be lost. The organisation has taken swift action to overcome this crisis, but further challenges lie ahead. 90% of the workforce has been on furlough, significant cost savings have been sought and found, and its fundraising campaign aims to raise £3 million to help secure the organisation during the next three years. However, income levels are likely to be drastically reduced well into next year, and so the charity is redoubling its fundraising efforts.
  • Arts and Culture in the North East had a turnover of £400 million, providing employment for 2,450 people in 2016 (last year for which figures are available)
  • Performing arts accounted for 33% (i.e. >£133 million) and 700 jobs
  • Gross Value Added of arts and culture sector to the NE is £203 million

Royal Northern Sinfonia
Thomas Zehetmair Conductor Laureate
Lars Vogt, Julian Rachlin Principal Artistic Partners

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.

The orchestra regularly flies the flag for the region at major festivals, including the BBC Proms, most recently performing Handel’s Water Music at Stage @theDock in Hull – the first Prom performed outside of London since 1930. They appear frequently at venues and festivals in Europe, including La folle journée in Nantes. In recent seasons they have toured to Vienna, Budapest, Istanbul and Tokyo.

RNS has worked with many international conductors and soloists including Christian Tetzlaff, Sir Roger Norrington, Paul McCreesh, Jess Gillam, Nicholas McGegan, Mahan Esfahani, Viktoria Mullova and Jessica Cottis, and also collaborated with leading popular voices such as Sting, Ben Folds, John Grant, Mercury Rev, Field Music and Maxïmo Park.

RNS has commissioned new music by David Lang, John Casken, Tansy Davies, Errollyn Wallen and James Weeks amongst others, and runs an annual Young Composers Competition.

In order to engage with the widest possible range of artists and audiences, in 2018 RNS founded its inclusive ensemble RNS Moves, and also increasingly programmes accessible and relaxed performances throughout the season.

RNS has always been actively involved in local communities and in education. This season the orchestra will perform across the region in Kendal, Middlesbrough, Carlisle, Berwick and Sunderland, and will once again take their Christmas by Candlelight tour to regional churches. Musicians support young people learning musical instruments through Sage Gateshead’s Centre for Advanced Training and through In Harmony Newcastle.

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.

We are a charity and rely on the support of donors to ensure everyone in the North East community can experience the joy of music.

Every year we welcome 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.