You are here: Home About Us Royal Northern Sinfonia Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia

Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia

For 40 years the Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia has been an integral, ever-present part of the Royal Northern Sinfonia musical family, drawing on talented and committed singers from across the North of England.

Choruses allow an orchestra to present the great, stand-out works from history: Mozart’s Requiem, Bach’s Passions and Haydn’s Masses, and performances of these have formed the core repertoire for Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia. However its role in Sage Gateshead’s classical programme is altogether more ambitious, matching the breadth of repertoire of the orchestra itself. Regular performances of the classics are frequently placed alongside modern masterpieces, and the chorus now regularly features in both our Sage One and Sage Two series.

Former Royal Northern Sinfonia timpanist Alan Fearon founded the chorus and led them until summer 2014, playing a crucial role in the choral and vocal strategy at Sage Gateshead. The chorus has worked with many guest conductors and with every Music Director since Rudolph Schwartz, the orchestra’s second Music Director, including 12 seasons with Thomas Zehetmair.

From 2004 to 2012 renowned choral conductor Simon Halsey led the chorus as Principal Conductor Choral Programme. They performed for the first time with Lars Vogt last season, and Hugh Brunt was appointed as Chorus Director in 2016.

Amongst the recordings the chorus has made are Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, Mozart’s Requiem, Vaughan Williams’ operas Sir John in Love and Riders to the Sea, Bliss’ Pastorale, and Songs of Northumbria.

Hugh Brunt Chorus Director

Hugh Brunt is co-Artistic Director and co-Principal Conductor of the London Contemporary Orchestra, winner of the Ensemble category at the Royal Philharmonic Society Music Awards 2015. Since 2008, he has led the LCO in innovative programmes at UK and European venues and festivals including the Roundhouse, Barbican, Royal Opera House, Open’er Festival (Poland), Royal Festival Hall, Victoria Hall (Geneva), Village Underground and Latitude Festival, and live on BBC Radio 3. He is Chorus Director at Royal Northern Sinfonia.

Recent and upcoming engagements include Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, City of London Sinfonia, Iceland Symphony Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Orchestra of Opera North, Rambert Dance Company, Nouvel Ensemble Contemporain, BBC Concert Orchestra and Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. He has conducted numerous premieres by leading young composers Francisco Coll, Shiva Feshareki, Martin Suckling, Gabriel Prokofiev, Emily Hall, Valgeir Sigurðsson and Edmund Finnis.

He conducted the string and choir arrangements on Radiohead’s new album A Moon Shaped Pool. A collaborator of composer and guitarist Jonny Greenwood, he conducted his scores for Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master. In the past two years with the LCO Soloists he has premiered seven short works by Greenwood and conducted the first live screening of the Academy Award-winning There Will Be Blood. Other collaborative work includes Beck, Imogen Heap, Belle & Sebastian, Actress, Matthew Herbert, Boiler Room and Foals. He has conducted and orchestrated Jed Kurzel’s scores to Macbeth and Assassin’s Creed.

Hugh studied at New College, Oxford, where he held a choral scholarship, and at the Lucerne Festival Academy under Heinz Holliger.

Join the Chorus

Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia always welcomes new members. Current members come from all kinds of backgrounds, all age groups and with varying levels of previous experience – read on to hear more from members themselves on what being in the chorus means to them.

“I’ve sung with choirs at various times in my life and also presented a regular choral series on BBC Radio 4 called Voices in Harmony. I really missed it when shift work as a BBC news reader forced me to stop. Now retired, I have the joy of talking gardening on Sunday afternoons on Radio Newcastle’s Garden Mania show and singing in the Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonias rehearsals on Sunday evenings. Choral singing is incredibly therapeutic; it brings you alive and cheers you up. Being in the Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia alongside fantastic professional musicians and learning such a wide range of choral music, is challenging, demanding and exciting. The rehearsals give you a wonderful insight into the music and the exhilaration you get when a concert goes well is a huge morale boost, there’s nothing quite like it.” Marian Foster, Retired BBC presenter/producer

“I joined the Sinfonia Chorus in January 2006 after growing up in a Children’s Choir. It was refreshing to join an adult choir and have the opportunity to sing such fantastic and famous pieces of music. The Sinfonia orchestra and choir has an excellent reputation around the North East, which is how I came to hear about the choir! The choir is friendly and it’s a joy to sing with such talented musicians, I would recommend it to anyone!” Katie Jane Innes, Student at Newcastle University doing PGCE in Secondary Mathematics and Graduate of Newcastle University School of Mathematics

“I’ve sung in the chorus for ten years as a full member. I was born and brought up in the North East and have been singing since the age of twelve, when I joined my local Choral Society. I’ve also sung with Cambridge University Music Society and the Bach Choir. Singing at the level demanded by the Northern Sinfonia Chorus is an amazing and intense experience, and you have to leave all your worries at the rehearsal door as there’s no time for lapses in concentration! I especially love the last few rehearsals before a concert, when the conductor gives us his or her interpretation of the music – that’s when it really comes to life. It’s also great fun being in the chorus ‘ for example, having a party backstage with the cast of Don Giovanni DURING the final performance, or having last minute rehearsals on the bus on our way to a concert!” Nick Forbes, age 34, Chief Executive of a local health charity and Leader of the Opposition Labour Group on Newcastle City Council

“I’ve been singing with the chorus for three and a half years and I love every minute of it – both the social life and the singing! Although I enjoy all the performances, my favourite so far has been Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion” at Easter 2008, with Handel’s “Messiah” in December 2005 a close second.”
Amy Maguire, Medical student, Newcastle

For more information about the Chorus of Royal Northern Sinfonia, and how to join, please email