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BBC Radio 3's Free Thinking Festival returns to Sage Gateshead

The full programme for the annual festival of grey matter stirring has been announced, with tickets being made available from October 6

Phil Dye David Greig
David Greig

The full line up for BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking Festival 2014 has been announced.

Now in its ninth year, the annual platform for provocative debate, new ideas, live music and performance will return to Sage Gateshead for he sixth consecutive visit, from October 31 to November 2.

Karen Armstrong, a former Roman Catholic nun and one of the world’s leading thinkers on religion, will deliver the Festival’s eponymous lecture, heading up a cast of high profile figures from the worlds of arts, science, politics and literature who are gathering to discuss and challenge current thinking.

The author of more than 20 books, Armstrong, who has addressed members of the US congress, was appointed by Kofi Annan to the United Nations group The Alliance of Civilisation and won the TED prize in 2008, argues that in the current global situation, a recognition of how little we know is the only way to peace.

She will be speaking on the opening night of the Festival - which has a theme of The Limits of Knowledge, for its 2014 outing - in Hall Two from 7.15pm.

At the same time over in Hall One, the Royal Northern Sinfonia (RNS) will be joined by emerging classical stars conductor Alexandre Bloch, and BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist Lise Berthaud, for a special concert.

British Museum Trustee Karen Armstrong
British Museum Trustee Karen Armstrong

The RNS will also perform on November 2 alongside folk singer Eliza Carthy, saxophonist Trish Clowes, for a special live broadcast of Words and Music from St Mary’s Church in Gateshead.

During the rest of the weekend, audiences will be treated to a melting pot of grey-matter-stirring sessions including interviews with Turkey’s bestselling female writer, Elif Shafak; Scottish playwright David Greig (who will be in conversation with Matthew Sweet); and North East author David Almond, who will take part in the opening event.

Discussions will include Antartica: A Testing Ground for the Human Species; Knowing your Enemy: Conciliation In An Age Of Uprisings; Bringing The Rich To Book – The Wealth Gap in Fact and Fiction; and From Flat Caps to Benefit Caps – Is A Working Class Hero Still Something To Be?.

The Festival will also feature this year’s newly-announced BBC Radio 3 and Arts and Humanities Research Council New Generation Thinkers, who will deliver a series of essays on topics including: Is Marriage an Identity Crisis?; The History of Press Censorship; The Spin Doctors of Nineteenth Century America; Beards, Whiskers and the History of Pogonotomy; and Beastly Politics.

Much of Radio 3’s wider weekend schedule will also be coming live from Tyneside including Breakfast, CD Review, Saturday Classics, In Tune, Live in Concert, Music Matters, Sound of Cinema, the aforementioned Words and Music and The Verb, featuring poet Ian McMillan.

For full listings or to book for the festival, which takes place at Sage Gateshead from October 31 to November 2, visit www.sagegateshead.com or call 0191 443 4661.


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