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Preview: Northern Chords Festival puts onus on youth

Some of Britain's best young musicians are bound for the North East to perform a series of concerts       

Jonathan Bloxham, cellist and founder of Northern Chords
Jonathan Bloxham, cellist and founder of Northern Chords

The annual Northern Chords chamber music festival gets under way tonight with an unconventional classical happening at Sage Gateshead heralding a week of inspiring music in atmospheric places.

Tonight’s opening festival event is a classical club night on the Sage concourse, starting at 10pm after the Northern Sinfonia’s 9pm Late Show concert in Hall Two which features the music of Bach.

Called Late Mix, it is a Northern Chords co-presentation with Sage Gateshead and NonClassical, an independent London record label and club night founded in 2004 by Gabriel Prokofiev, grandson of composer Sergei Prokofiev and himself a composer.

In NonClassical style, tonight’s event will feature contemporary classical music alongside innovative classical DJ sets.

It promises a youthful, club-orientated take on classical music, including Bach’s Goldberg Variataions which will tie in with the earlier Sinfonia concert.

The first Northern Chords sit-down concert will take place in the Sage’s Hall Two on Monday evening and it is called Midnight in Paris, featuring music by Ysaye, Poulenc and Ravel with the second half given over to Chausson’s Concerto in D Major for Violin, Piano and String Quartet.

The second concert, Russia, sees Northern Chords visiting Durham – and the cathedral, no less – for the first time.

Russia is the title of the concert taking place in the Chapter House, not far from the memorial commemorating the former cathedral choristers who were killed in the First World War.

The audience will hear stirring music by Rachmaninov, Stravinsky, Shostakovich and Prokofiev.

Festival founder and cellist Jonathan Bloxham says: “Classical music is the lifeblood of society.

“A concert is a place to put aside everyday stresses and let yourself be taken on a journey of beauty and sound. Everyone of all ages can participate in this experience.

“The theme this year is ‘1914 and beyond - music from a changing world’ and I know that the First World War had a big impact on the cathedral and the choristers in particular.

“Not only did many lose their lives after enlisting but I understand that during the war sung weekday Matins came to an end and were only able to resume on Tuesday, Thursdays and Holy Days afterwards.”

Further Northern Chords concerts will take place on Wednesday at Newcastle Cathedral (A Requiem, featuring The Lark Ascending, Adagio for Strings and Fauré’s Requiem), Thursday at St Andrew’s Church, Corbridge (Music on Jewish Themes) and Sage Gateshead again on Friday, May 30 (Summertime in the USA, featuring great music from across ‘the pond’).

All the music at Northern Chords will be performed by Jonathan, his award-winning Busch Ensemble and other talented young musicians from Britain and beyond.

Tickets for all can be bought at the Sage box office on 0191 443 4661 or www.sagegateshead.com

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