Sage Gateshead announced today that James Thomas will take up the role of Director of Royal Northern Sinfonia & Classical Programme in the autumn this year. He joins from Manchester Camerata where he is Creative Director.
Abigail Pogson, Managing Director of Sage Gateshead said: “We are thrilled to appoint James to lead Royal Northern Sinfonia and our Classical Programme at Sage Gateshead. There is a huge sense of momentum with the orchestra and in our programme just now and we are all really excited to work with James to take this forward.”
James Thomas, incoming Director of Classical Music and RNS said: “Ever since I was a professional musician, chamber orchestras have always had a special place in my heart, so I’m delighted to be joining RNS and Sage Gateshead at an exciting time. Chamber orchestras are always at the forefront of innovation and change and this is a unique orchestra in an amazing part of the UK. I can see an exciting and inclusive future for music in the region”
Dinis Sousa, Principal Conductor, Royal Northern Sinfonia said: “I’m really excited that James is joining us at RNS. This has been a big year for us, with newly appointed players and exciting new projects, and I’m looking forward to working with James to continue to develop the work that the orchestra does at home, regionally and internationally.”
James grew up in South Wales and started his musical career aged 8 as a flautist. He went on to take up the bassoon at the Junior Department of the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. He graduated from the Royal Northern College of Music in 2009 and then studied at the Conservatorio Di Musica in Mantova, Italy and subsequently freelanced across Europe.
James set aside his bassoon to move into orchestral management as General Manager of Sinfonia Cymru. Following his time on the ABO Find Your Way programme he moved to Manchester Camerata where he has been Creative Director for five years and has shaped the orchestra’s artistic identity and creative output.
At Manchester Camerata, James has helped develop the orchestra’s programming identity in Manchester and across the North in partnership with the orchestra, a series of artistic partners and Music Director Gábor Takács-Nagy. He has developed strong links in their new home in Gorton in Manchester, secured international tours and built new partnerships for performance and recording in the UK. He worked to bring the community and performance aspects of the orchestras work even closer together with the orchestra at the heart and during the pandemic he developed new creative projects, including digital project Untold – Manchester Camerata.
Founded in 1958, Royal Northern Sinfonia is one of the world’s leading chamber orchestras. RNS is based at Sage Gateshead and serves the North through activity and performances across the region.
The orchestra regularly flies the flag for the region by touring internationally and appearing at major festivals. Just last weekend Sage Gateshead and Royal Northern Sinfonia welcomed BBC Proms to the venue for the first time.
Principal Conductor Dinis Sousa has just completed his first season with RNS. He brings a fantastic new energy to the orchestra which has worked with many international conductors and soloists including Christian Tetzlaff, Sir Roger Norrington, Paul McCreesh, Jess Gillam, Nicholas McGegan, Mahan Esfahani, Viktoria Mullova and Jessica Cottis, and also collaborated with leading popular voices such as Sting, Ben Folds, John Grant, Mercury Rev, Field Music and Maxïmo Park.