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Latest News: Member News

Queen honours ‘Royal’ Northern Sinfonia

Thursday, June 13, 2013   (0 Comments)

Help us congratulate ISPA member organization the Sage Gateshead and ISPA Board Chair Anthony Sargent on an exciting new development!  Read the full 'royal' press release below from the Sage Gateshead.

Sage GatesheadThe Queen has bestowed the title of ‘Royal’ on Northern Sinfonia, orchestra of Sage Gateshead, recognising it internationally as one of the UK’s finest orchestras – the first time any UK orchestra has been so honoured for over twenty years.  

Nigel Sherlock, the Lord Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear, announced the news to Northern Sinfonia players today (THURS) at the final rehearsal of their current season at Sage Gateshead, the orchestra’s admired home since Norman Foster’s landmark building opened in 2004. 

Mr Sherlock said: "As a supporter of Northern Sinfonia for over five decades, I am personally thrilled to be able to convey this news to our dedicated and inspirational players. This honour is both a great privilege from Her Majesty but also a well deserved recognition of the international quality of this orchestra, long regarded as a great asset to this region and now recognised rightly for its contribution to this country’s musical life.”

Founded in 1958 in Newcastle upon Tyne as the brainchild of the BBC musicologist and producer Michael Hall, who died last year, Northern Sinfonia is the only full-time professional chamber orchestra in the UK and for over 50 years has played a central role in the region’s cultural life, enjoying  a lustrous career performing, touring abroad, recording and broadcasting.  For many years the orchestra played at Newcastle’s City Hall until the move to its specially designed new home for all its work, Sage Gateshead, formally opened by Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh. 

For twelve years the orchestra’s internationally admired music director, the Austrian conductor and violinist Thomas Zehetmair, has led the orchestra to ever greater artistic heights and his concerts form the backbone of Sage Gateshead’s classical programme. Each of Northern Sinfonia’s 37 hand-picked, virtuoso players are outstanding musicians in their own right, and Bradley Creswick, Leader of the orchestra, was previously Leader of the Orchestra of the Royal Opera House and the Philharmonia Orchestra.  One of the orchestra’s Principal Conductors is John Wilson, born and bred in Gateshead, and now winning his own international reputation for reviving Hollywood and musicals scores as well as championing British light music, attracting new and enthusiastic audiences for the orchestra.

Thomas Zehetmair, Music Director of Northern Sinfonia, said:  "What a wonderful title! I am very grateful to Her Majesty for honouring these outstanding musicians. The North East of England has become an important place in my life, and to be part of the cultural blossoming of the region fills my heart with joy."

Bradley Creswick, Leader of Northern Sinfonia, said: "I and the other players were overwhelmed to hear the news. This is no doubt one of the proudest days in the history of the orchestra. It is a real affirmation of the music and the work that we do. It’s a beautiful thing for it to be said ‘we value you, and the region and nation values you’ and we trust our loyal audience will be just as proud because this is as much for them as it is for us.” 

Anthony Sargent, General Director of Sage Gateshead, said: "We’re thrilled beyond words by this recognition for the truly exceptional musicians of Northern Sinfonia.  With a repertoire spanning over 350 years, as eloquent in early music as when they premiere new commissions or collaborate with leading musicians from other genres, Northern Sinfonia consistently play with Thomas Zehetmair’s own trademark approach of treating all the music they play as if the ink were still wet on the page.  Last Sunday they completed an unforgettably perceptive cycle of the complete symphonies of Brahms and Schumann, and tomorrow (FRI) they join the Northumbrian folk musician Kathryn Tickell on the same stage for an exciting premiere as part of the Festival of the North East.”