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Sage Gateshead's new classical season launched

Three themes run through the new 2015-16 classical season at Sage Gateshead with a focus on Mozart and Sibelius

Lars Vogt the new music director of the Northern Sinfonia
Lars Vogt the new music director of the Northern Sinfonia

Two composers will get special attention during the forthcoming 2015-16 classical music season at Sage Gateshead, it was revealed at the recent launch.

They are Mozart, known to many but perhaps not as his contemporaries knew him, and Sibelius, who was born 150 years ago this year.

Reclaiming Mozart and Sibelius and the Musical North are two of the three themes that will run through the new season, announced at Sage Gateshead at the end of last week by pianist and conductor Lars Vogt.

The German, whose tenure as music director of Royal Northern Sinfonia officially begins with the new season in September, also announced a third musical strand, Early Encounters, which will look at the period performance of Baroque works.

The Sage argument with regard to Mozart is that his music has often been “abandoned to commercialism – chocolate boxes and ‘Mozart for Babies’ CDs”.

The Reclaiming Mozart ‘journey’ through the season was designed to dispel preconceptions and put the composer’s music into context – as music written to win the applause of archdukes, kings and emperors but by a musician who was always an outsider.

A man whose music has helped in the modern commercial world to make millions for entrepreneurs was driven into crippling debt by his efforts to keep his head above water.

The Mozart reassessment kicks off the season on September 18 with a performance by the resident Royal Northern Sinfonia – conducted by Vogt – of his Symphony No. 25, the work said to have marked the young man’s arrival as a composer of real maturity.

Subsequent highlights will be the brooding Piano Concerto No. 20 (on October 30), which amazingly was composed in a day, and the Symphony No. 31, ‘Paris’ (March 3, 2016) which cocked a snook at the musical tastes of the French capital’s bourgeoisie.

The season will also feature great works including the Symphony No. 41, ‘Jupiter’ (December 6), the Mass in C Minor, ‘The Great’ (February 5, 2016), written after the composer nearly lost his beloved wife Constanza, and the Symphony No. 40 (May 20, 2016) whose opening motif you’ll know even if you think you don’t.

The Finnish composer Jean Sibelius, famous for his seven symphonies, gets due attention. He was born in Hämeenlinna on December 8, 1865, and died on September 20, 1957, aged 91.

Mark Savage Photography Royal Northern Sinfonia's Songs for a Swingin Orchestra
Royal Northern Sinfonia's Songs for a Swingin Orchestra

Manchester’s esteemed Hallé Orchestra will perform Symphony No. 1 on February 13 next year while the neighbouring Royal Liverpool Philharmonic will take on Symphony No. 2 on April 8.

Our own Royal Northern Sinfonia, which will perform Symphony No. 3 on October 22, will present the composer’s Violin Concerto with Lars Vogt conducting and soloist Christian Tetzlaff on November 27.

The composer’s famous Finlandia will be performed by the Sinfonia on November 22 with Mario Venzago conducting as part of the Classic FM concert series which returns as a popular part of the forthcoming season (John Wilson’s popular Sunday matinee concerts also return under the Classic FM heading).

The Early Encounters strand looks at the purist approach to early Baroque music, with performances on period instruments, and a more contemporary approach.

Representing the former approach will be three guest ensembles: the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, the Dunedin Consort and the home-grown Avison Ensemble.

Works to be performed include Bach’s B Minor Mass (March 25 next year) and Handel’s Messiah (December 19).

The season will see the focus fall at certain times on up-and-coming stars.

On January 16 and 17, in concerts called New Year, New Artists, the Hall Two stage will be taken by, among others, Cathy Krier (piano), Remy van Kesteren (harp), Harriet Krijgh (cello), Benjamin Appl (baritone) and the string quartet Quatuor Zaïde.

Full details of the new season, which also sees the return of the Late Mix concerts, can be found at www.sagegateshead.com and tickets are on sale now. In the next Culture magazine – free with The Journal on April 28 – our classical music reviewer Rob Barnes will give his assessment of the new season.

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