Festival of Contemporary Music for All: Day of Workshops

Sage Gateshead

Join like-minded individuals for a day of music workshops at Sage Gateshead.

Mix and match your workshops. Here’s a taste of what’s in store…

For Voices

  • Work with leading composer Sir James MacMillan
  • Explore experimental vocal music from the CoMA Partsong book in sessions led by some of the UK’s leading vocal conductors
  • Be the first to sing newly-commissioned works from an international line-up of composers
  • Take part in a performance of James Weeks’ new work, specially written for the weekend

For Instruments

  • Perform brilliant works from the CoMA Open Score collection, led by some of the UK’s leading lights in contemporary music performance and members of Royal Northern Sinfonia
  • Perform experimental classic Rock Piece by Pauline Oliveros
  • Be part of James Weeks’ new work, specially commissioned for the weekend

For Electronic Artists and the Digitally Curious

  • Create an electronic music score for a short film in sessions led by composer and sound artist Mariam Rezaei

For Composers

  • Hear your music performed, and receive feedback from members of Royal Northern Sinfonia in short workshop sessions on the public Concourse.
    (Max 3 minutes in duration, written for string quartet. For consideration, please send completed parts by email to classical@sagegateshead.com no later than 15 February 2018. All works submitted are assessed by a panel headed by James Weeks, the project’s artistic director.)

Limited places in some workshops, so book early to avoid disappointment. Age 16+. Minimum level Grade 5 or equivalent suggested.

How to book

Bookings can only be made online via Eventbrite. Click here to book.


Session 1 workshop

  • 10am – 10.50am Instrumental (Hugh Brunt) All instruments are welcome to play this vividly contrasted suite of pieces by young British composer Naomi Pinnock, Four Humours, under the baton of one the UK’s most in-demand young conductors, Hugh Brunt.
  • 10am – 11.50am Vocal (James MacMillan) Double length session – full details to be announced soon
  • 10am – 10.50am Electronics (Mariam Rezaei) Mariam Rezaei will lead music workshops developing a live, improvised group composition to score silent short films using electronics. Suitable for beginners and experts.

Session 2 workshop

  • 11am – 11.50am Instrumental (James Weeks) Discover the gentle, haunting voice of veteran English experimentalist Howard Skempton in this session with his work Sirens, open to all pitched instruments.
  • 11am – 11.50 Electronic (Mariam Rezaei) See above
    Please note if you choose the 10am Vocal workshop, you cannot attend an 11am workshop

Session 3 workshop

  • 12.10pm – 1pm Rehearsal and performance of James Weeks’ new work (Vocal/Instrumental) Composer James Weeks has made a new piece especially for this weekend, suitable for all singers and instrumentalists of every sort and of every level, to be performed in the amazing space of the Sage Gateshead’s Concourse. As to what it will be – come and find out!

Session 4 workshop.

  • 2pm – 2.50pm Any participants (Hugh Brunt) Pauline Oliveros was one of the profoundest musical minds of the late 20th century, whose music reconnects us with our bodies and with the sound of the world around us. No instruments needed here to play this iconic work, Rock Piece.
  • 2pm – 2.50pm Vocal (James Weeks) Today marks the launch of an extraordinary collection of vocal pieces, the CoMA Partsong Project: be some of the very first people to sing some of the 12 brand-new choral works contained in this volume, led by the project’s Artistic Director, James Weeks. The 1400 and 1500 sessions will contain different repertoire.
  • 2pm – 2.50pm Electronics (Mariam Rezaei) See above

Session 5 workshop.

  • 3pm – 3.50pm Instrumental (Hugh Brunt) Two brilliant works to try out in this session – Phil Venables’ irrepressibly rhythmic Dutch Courage and Jonathan Harvey’s elegant and joyful Climbing Frame. Once again, all instruments welcome.
  • 3pm – 3.50pm Vocal (James Weeks) See above
  • 3pm – 3.50pm Electronics (Mariam Rezaei) See above

Final Showing

  • 4pm – 4.30pm (All Participants) Participants will come together to share with each other what they have learned and discovered during the workshop day.

About James Weeks

James Weeks is a composer and conductor specialising in new music. His works are commissioned and performed worldwide, and he has released four portrait albums, the latest of which is Mala punica (Winter&Winter), chosen as one of The New Yorker’s CDs of 2017. He co-founded EXAUDI in 2002, now widely regarded as one of the world’s leading vocal ensembles for contemporary music, with whom he maintains a busy international touring schedule.

He is also in great demand as a guest conductor, working regularly with ensembles such as Royal Northern Sinfonia, London Sinfonietta, L’Instant Donné, musikFabrik and BCMG. He has worked extensively with amateurs in both early and contemporary music and has been closely associated with CoMA since 2014, leading workshops and summer courses and directing the CoMA Partsong Project.

After 5 years as Associate Head of Composition at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London, he was appointed as an Assistant Professor in Composition at Durham University in October 2017. He lives in Gateshead with his wife Sophie, a member of RNS, and his two young children.

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