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Posted on 14 September 2018

On Friday 7th September Sage Gateshead welcomed the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, as part of his visit to the Great Exhibition of the North.

The building was buzzing with excitement. Gospel choir Voices of Virtue gave the Duke a wonderful entrance, performing on the Concourse as he arrived and greeted children from Riverside Primary Academy in Dunston. Pupils have been working towards their ‘Prince William Award’, which helps young people build their character, resilience and confidence to empower them to “be their best”. Showing off their certificates they were beaming with pride as he took time to share in their achievements.

Sage Gateshead managing director Abigail Pogson introduced Prince William to the building and took him to the main concert hall, Sage One, to hear and meet performers from our Silver Programme (music-making for people over the age of 50). Quicksilver, who sing arrangements of classic pop songs, sang Happy Together’ by the Turtles and ‘Can’t buy me love’ by the Beatles.

Prince William joined them on stage and talked to them about their repertoire and the positive impact of music.

Phil Davids, Silver Programme Leader, said: “It was a wonderful opportunity to share what we do here at Sage Gateshead. The Duke of Cambridge was very complimentary and really understood the health and well being benefits of group music-making.

“We were all nervous beforehand but once he entered the hall he made everyone feel at ease and the mood was happy and uplifting, which is exactly what our Silver programme stands for. We talked about the social interaction that comes from joining a music group and he was impressed to hear some of our participants have even gone on to get married!”

Paul Emery, Silver participant, said: “I was so grateful to be here today. Before I joined the Silver programme I was homeless and this has been a real part of my journey. I’ve really enjoyed being part of the Great Exhibition of the North and today was the icing on the cake.”

Prince William then visited Sage Gateshead’s Music Education Centre to meet young people involved in the CoMusica programme. CoMusica uses music and art to engage with children and young people experiencing challenging circumstances.

They discussed the impact creative work has had on developing their key skills. Many of them described how CoMusica had changed their lives by focusing on their love of music to help with things they struggled with at school.

Sandy Duff, Arches Programme Leader for CoMusica, said the atmosphere was really relaxed.

He said: “The Duke of Cambridge was great at putting the young people at ease. He made a point of shaking hands with all of them which really made their day. He took a real interest in their stories, asking lots of questions about how CoMusica helped them in their journey.

“He was very impressed that two of our participants were now working in the new Ken Loach film. He was open and very approachable and even shared a few laughs with me. He acknowledged the importance of bespoke support and education and that it was important to understand the barriers young people face.

“He admitted he was partial to a bit of hip hop so I mentioned Grandmaster Flash had performed here recently, which he was suitably impressed by. All in all it was a great and rewarding experience for the team and the participants.”

For more information on making music at Sage Gateshead visit