Sage Gateshead reopens its doors to musicians and audiences with 7-week series of live music; all performances will also be live streamed.

First three Royal Northern Sinfonia Friday night concerts star conductors Jessica Cottis and Chloé van Soeterstède, Principal Artistic Partner Lars Vogt, and include a world premiere by Kristina Arakely.

Sage Gateshead announces details of programmes and artists for Sage Live 2020, a seven-week series of live performances running from 23 October until December. These will be the first live music performances in the venue since it closed its doors in March this year due to coronavirus. The concerts aim to present the very best of Sage Gateshead, they feature Royal Northern Sinfonia on Fridays and a series of contemporary musicians from a range of genres on Saturdays.

Sage Live 2020 will be announced in ‘waves’, and the first three weeks of concerts go on sale to the public on 8 October. Sage Gateshead hopes to welcome both regular and new audience members and has designed the series with this in mind. There is also an allocation of free tickets available to Gateshead residents attending for the first time, as well as for Health and Social Care workers.

To ensure that these concerts are as accessible as possible some will be performed twice over the weekend and they will also be live streamed to allow as wide as possible an audience to enjoy these musicians and music, and so that should social restrictions be reintroduced the events can go ahead.

Audiences also have the option of booking a table on the Concourse before each show, where they can enjoy a drink and free live music from Royal Northern Sinfonia musicians.

Over the first three weeks Royal Northern Sinfonia will perform well known works from the classical repertoire alongside some lesser known music including a world premiere and Sage Gateshead commission from Kristina Arakelyan Fantasia on a theme by Ludwig van Beethoven and Jessie Montgomery’s inventive Strum. RNS is committed to showcasing the talent of underrepresented groups in its programming, joining a vital cultural conversation about the future of classical music.

A highlight for many will be the return of Principal Artistic Partner Lars Vogt, with two performances of Beethoven’s mighty ‘Emperor’ concerto.

The orchestra is joined by two fantastic guest conductors Jessica Cottis and Chloé van Soeterstède and section principals Philip Nelson on double bass and Steffan Morris on cello step forward as soloists in Françaix’s Concerto for Double Bass and Tchaikovsky’s Andante Cantabile respectively.

Contemporary gigs on Saturday nights include appearances from master of the Northumbrian pipes and Sage Gateshead favourite Kathryn Tickell in a very special show with her family created for the occasion; a rare solo show from celebrated songsmith Richard Dawson whose album 2020 late last year has been described by multiple critics as a masterpiece, and the chance to hear Mercury nominated indie rock band Lanterns on the Lake perform its critically-acclaimed album Spook the Herd.

The safety of artists and audiences is a top priority at the venue, with carefully planned social distancing measures in place on stage, in the auditorium, and throughout all public areas. Concerts will be in Sage One, using only 300 of the 1,700 seats to ensure that households can be safely distanced.

Sage Gateshead also recently launched its 20/21 season of online activity, including Make Music – its weekly programme of adult music classes, its Young People’s Programme which usually offers musical activity for over 10,000 young people, and its artist development programme which supports musicians from across the region. This activity would usually take place in the world-famous music centre but has now moved online to ensure that people across the North can continue their music making as we head into the winter months.

During lockdown Sage Gateshead launched a major fundraising campaignCrisis, Recovery and Renaissance, which aims to raise £3 million in the next three years in response to the urgent financial challenge posed by Covid19. 60% of the company’s income stopped overnight when the building closed in March, and a further 20% of income has been significantly impacted by the crisis. Many people have generously donated tickets, memberships or cash, which has helped the company to survive, although there is still significant money to raise. The charity aims to raise £1m by summer 2021 to safeguard its future.

Abigail Pogson, Managing Director at Sage Gatesheadsaid“This year has changed all of our lives. Our families, friendships, workplaces, schools, and communities have been through a period of extraordinary challenge and upheaval. 2020 also threatened the very survival of live music as we know it, a threat which is sadly ongoing.

“We cannot wait to welcome back musicians, both our orchestra and these talented freelance musicians who need our platform and our support to work. And we cannot wait to welcome our audiences back. Sage Live 2020 will be for everyone, whether you’re a music lover visiting us for the first time or someone who already knows and loves Sage Gateshead. We know not everyone will be able to visit our venue, which is why we’re delighted to be live streaming our performances.

“Our 7-week series will feature the region’s orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, performing works that will remind us why live classical music is so special. They cannot wait to play together again as an orchestra. In our contemporary programme, we’ll present brilliant artists from across genres – familiar names and new talent.  We’ll aim to bring you the best of Sage Gateshead and something new, all with everyone’s safety at the fore.

“To get us to this point many people have generously donated tickets, memberships or cash. This is helping us to survive and to run online programmes There’s still significant money to raise, but we would simply not be here without this support. With safety at the front of our minds, we will start in a modest way so that we can navigate steadily through the coming months, and hopefully grow our live programme through the year.

“We have heard resoundingly from people during lockdown that music can make our lives better and we are determined that Sage Gateshead – despite the significant financial and logistical challenges which Covid 19 brings for us – will play a role in our region’s life through and in recovery from the pandemic.”