In Thomas Zehetmair’s tenth season as Music Director, highlights include:

  • Complete Beethoven piano concertos featuring soloists Jonathan Biss, Paul Lewis and Francesco Piemontesi
  • Cycle of Schubert symphonies conducted by Thomas Zehetmair
  • Return of the acclaimed Late Mix series, with this season’s focus on words and music.

    The Sage Gateshead will be celebrating Thomas Zehetmair’s tenth season as Music Director of Northern Sinfonia by placing the orchestra at the very heart of its 2011/2 classical season. Northern Sinfonia, orchestra of The Sage Gateshead, has enjoyed a hugely successful ten years with Thomas Zehetmair, who recently reaffirmed his commitment by signing a contract until the end of August 2014.

    A highlight of this special anniversary season will see Thomas Zehetmair take on an ambitious cycle of Schubert symphonies performed in chronological order across both the Subscription Series and the Classic FM Series. Following outstanding performances of Tchaikovsky’s first, second and third symphonies, Northern Sinfonia and Zehetmair also take on the Romantic great that is Tchaikovsky’s fifth. Other highlights include Mozart’s Great Mass in C minor and Mendelssohn’s Fifth Symphony ‘Reformation’.

    Following on from Northern Sinfonia’s acclaimed cycle of Beethoven symphonies in October 2008, this season the orchestra will perform all five of Beethoven’s piano concertos as part of the Subscription Series. The pianists will be Jonathan Biss (with Thomas Zehetmair conducting), Paul Lewis (with Nicholas McGegan), Francesco Piemontesi (with Heinrich Schiff), Leon McCawley (with Frans Bruggen) and Olli Mustonen (directing from the piano). Also performing Beethoven will be one of the most celebrated young string quartets, the Belcea Quartet, with a cycle of quartets in Hall Two as part of the Up Close and Classical series.

    Off the back of the hugely successful first season of exciting concerts that made up The Late Mix, which saw creative programming of very new works alongside the very old, the series returns with a focus on words and music. Northern Sinfonia once again takes the lead with works by Morton Feldman, David Lang, Richard Ayres, Steve Reich, Harrison Birtwistle, Percy Grainger, and Olivier Messiaen. In line with The Sage Gateshead’s dedication to new artists and commissions it is also hoping to feature a recently composed work by Newcastle University student, Helen Papaioannou. Principal Conductor Mario Venzago will perform two Romantic symphonies alongside concertos featuring soloists from Northern Sinfonia. Bruckner’s Symphony No.2 will be performed with Mozart’s vivacious fifth violin concerto, the ‘Turkish,’ with Northern Sinfonia Leader Bradley Creswick. Meanwhile Brahms’s fourth symphony will feature in a programme including the oboe concerto by Richard Strauss with Northern Sinfonia oboe section leader, Daniel Bates.

    The 2011/12 season sees Northern Sinfonia Chorus appear in three different series for the first time. With Thomas Zehetmair they will open the Subscription Series in a performance of Mozart’s Great Mass, and perform in his last concert of the season with Bruckner’s Requiem. They will take on Bach’s Magnificat and ‘I Never’ by Composer-in-Residence, David Lang, with Principal Conductor of the Choral Programme, Simon Halsey. In The Late Mix they will join a celebration of Percy Grainger and in the Classic FM Series they will perform the Miserere by Allegri, with the Vivaldi ‘Gloria’.

    Throughout the season Northern Sinfonia will be joined by regular collaborators; Heinrich Schiff, Thierry Fischer, Frans Bruggen, Bernard Labadie and Nicholas McGegan. Meanwhile a number of exceptional, young artists will join the orchestra for the first time; Nicholas Collon, Ainars Rubikis, Joshua Weilerstein and Christian Vasquez. The Sage Gateshead also welcomes Opera North back for the second instalment of its first ever Ring-cycle, the epic ‘Die Walkure’.

    Celebrating the brilliance and talent of the Northern Sinfonia players, two of the Subscription Series concerts will be performed without a conductor: there will be some Latin-American magic as co-leader Kyra Humphreys performs the magical ‘Four Seasons’ by Astor Piazzolla and cellist Louisa Tuck directs the first and fifth Bachianas Brasileiras. Leader Bradley Creswick directs the orchestra in a celebration of Bach with saxophonist Tim Garland, including Bach’s Concertos for Oboe and Oboe and Violin (performed on soprano saxophone), and Stravinsky’s Concerto in E flat, ‘Dumbarton Oaks’.

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