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Thomas Zehetmair's final season with Royal Northern Sinfonia

Posted on 26 June 2013

A star-studded roster of guest ensembles and artists join the newly honoured Royal Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of Sage Gateshead, for its 2013-14 season, as it bids farewell to its world-renowned Music Director Thomas Zehetmair.

The Queen bestowed the title of ‘Royal’ on Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of Sage Gateshead, recognising it internationally as one of the UK’s finest orchestras – the first time any UK orchestra has been so honoured for over twenty years. Nigel Sherlock, the Lord Lieutenant for Tyne and Wear, announced the news to Northern Sinfonia players on June 13 at the final rehearsal of their current season at Sage Gateshead.

With a typically varied programme Thomas Zehetmair, Royal Northern Sinfonia’s longest serving Music Director, embarks on his 12th and final season at the helm. Known for his dedication to style and interpretation, he leads the orchestral programme at Sage Gateshead from September 2013 to June 2014 and conducts Royal Northern Sinfonia in their debut series at Milton Court, London, in October 2013 and June 2014.

Marking their 40th anniversary, Northern Sinfonia Chorus also join Thomas and the orchestra for three significant and memorable concerts as well as performing under their founding Chorus Master Alan Fearon.

In 2013 the country remembers its most celebrated composer, Benjamin Britten, and in the first half of the season his music is featured in Sage One, Sage Two and through Sage Gateshead’s Join In and Make Music projects.

In the spring and summer months the programme focuses on internationally-renowned British composer John Casken with a series of performances that culminate in the world premiere of his new concerto for violin and viola ‘That Subtle Knot’.

Ros Rigby, Performance Programme Director at Sage Gateshead, said: “The 2013-14 season promises a packed programme full of exciting, beautiful and fascinating concerts with music from the 16th to 21st centuries, from Stravinsky to Sleigh-Ride. As always the standard of playing will be world class thanks to Thomas and the wonderful things he’s achieved with our orchestra over the past 11 years.”

Opera North concludes its epic Ring Cycle with the dramatic and powerful ‘Götterdämmerung’ and this season introduces a new programme cycle – Beethoven’s complete Piano Sonatas.

Ros added: “From the grandeur of Wagner in Sage One, we look to the intimate setting of Sage Two for this fascinating set of works performed over several seasons by the celebrated Palestinian-Israeli pianist Saleem Abboud Ashkar.”

Among the season’s many guests of Royal Northern Sinfonia are leading instrumentalists who each perform a concerto and then conduct the orchestra for the first time, bringing their unrivalled musicality to the podium. Violinist Julian Rachlin performs Mendelssohn, pianist Lars Vogt takes on Mozart and Beethoven and astounding trumpeter Håkan Hardenberger presents Bach, Haydn and Stravinsky.

The popular Classic FM Series, featuring Principal Conductor Mario Venzago, continues with a selection of the most loved concerti from classical music and many pieces from Classic FM’s ‘Hall of Fame’, whilst the Late Mix series inspires and challenges the mind with music from throughout time.

Chamber music is a unique and integral part of the work of Royal Northern Sinfonia, highlighted in the Sage Two series, which includes works from Brahms to Schoenberg whilst Section Leader Flute, Juliette Bausor, performs a vivid recital as an ECHO (European Concert Hall Organisation) Rising Star.