Posted on 27 August 2018

Media Release: August 27, 2018

A group of disabled and non-disabled musicians are coming together to give their very first public performance in September at Sage Gateshead, as part of Royal Northern Sinfonia’s 60th birthday celebrations.

The ensemble is made up of members from Royal Northern Sinfonia: Tristan Gurney (violin), Michael Gerrard (viola), Gabriel Waite (cello), Siân Hicks (double bass) and Michael O’Donnell (oboe and cor anglais) alongside Clarence Adoo (Headspace, a breath-controlled electronic instrument), Steph West (harp), Adrian Lee (electric guitar) and Gemma Lunt (saxophone).

The 45-minute free performance, ‘RNS Moves’, takes place on Saturday 22 September. It will include one of Vivaldi’s Four Seasons (reimagined), plus specially commissioned works by composers Adrian Lee and Agustín Fernández. The Vivaldi will be arranged to include harp, electric guitar, saxophone and Headspace.

The collaboration follows on from a previous project involving RNS musicians and Candoco Dance Company, a company of disabled and non-disabled dancers. Drawing on nearly 40 years of combined expertise in inclusive practice, Sage Gateshead and Candoco Dance Company collaborated back in January to develop a model for disabled and non-disabled musicians working together in classical music. From this stemmed the idea of RNS Moves.

Adrian Lee describes the project: “This project makes it possible for people from different walks of life and with different abilities to show what we can do together and for audiences to see and hear this. As a musician I’ve enjoyed working with Agustín Fernández and his compositional process to think about how we can draw the best out of disabled and non-disabled musicians.

“It’s brilliant that RNS gave myself and the other musicians the opportunity earlier in the year to come together to learn about how best we can integrate our skills. This project is paving the way for other musicians such as myself. It’s a privilege to be part of such a significant weekend as both a composer and a guitarist.”

Steph West, said: “I’m really excited to work with this team of musicians again. I’m fascinated to see how the composers commissioned for this project write for the harp. The harp is a challenging instrument to write for: the sound and physical technique are very different from any other orchestral instrument. I’m really enjoying the scores I have to work on, especially our new commission LoA. As a musician with a hand deformity I have to know my scores really well so I have time to figure out how I’m going to bring the music alive with the tools that I have.”

Agustín Fernández, who is Professor of Composition at Newcastle University, said: “To interact with the players of Royal Northern Sinfonia is always a privilege. This project gives me a chance not only to do that, but also to engage with the eye-opening world of four guest professional musicians who have had to adapt their practice to life-changing disabilities.

“More than one of constraint, the experience of composing LoA was one of channelling the energy, the struggle and ultimately the triumph of these wonderful players over adversity. What a superb way of marking RNS’s 60th birthday.”

Gabriel Waite, Royal Northern Sinfonia said: “Music for me is about sharing our feelings. The workshops we participated in back in January took that to a new level. When obstacles of any sort are put in your way the real meaning of the music becomes the focus. I’m really excited that the same group of musicians are going to work together again.”

Dr Clarence Adoo MBE said: “What is amazing for me is to both be working with the same group of people I worked with back in January but also to be playing again with Royal Northern Sinfonia after 23 years. For me this is very special. It is musically fantastic and I’m thrilled to see all musicians playing on a level playing-field and accepted for what they can do.”

The 60th birthday weekend [21st – 23rd September] has been programmed to showcase all the different aspects of the orchestra’s work. The celebrations kickstart on the Friday evening with RNS Rocks, when the orchestra will be joined by some of the North East’s best-known indie-rock artists, Maxïmo Park and Field Music; the Saturday will also include the Big RNS Kids’ Birthday Party. The Big RNS Birthday Gala will take place on the Sunday, featuring works from Beethoven, Mozart, Prokofiev, Haydn and more. Audience members will also be invited to raise a glass to Royal Northern Sinfonia as the clock strikes midnight, welcoming in the 24th September, the official birthday.

RNS Moves takes place on Saturday 22 September at 4pm in Sage Two. The concert is free but ticketed.


Notes to Editors
There will be a Q&A session at the end of the performance.

Musicians in the ensemble:
Clarence Adoo – Headspace instrument
Steph West – harp
Adrian Lee – electric guitar
Gemma Lunt – saxophones
Tristan Gurney (RNS) – violin
Michael Gerrard (RNS) – viola
Gabriel Waite (RNS) – cello
Siân Hicks (RNS) – double bass
Michael O’Donnell (RNS) – oboe and cor anglais

Royal Northern Sinfonia

Lars Vogt Music Director
Julian Rachlin Principal Guest Conductor
Thomas Zehetmair Conductor Laureate
Royal Northern Sinfonia
Lars Vogt Music Director
Julian Rachlin Principal Guest Conductor
Thomas Zehetmair Conductor Laureate
Royal Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of Sage Gateshead, is the UK’s only full-time chamber orchestra. Founded in 1958, RNS has built a world-wide reputation for the North East through the quality of its music-making and the immediacy of the connections the musicians make with audiences. The orchestra regularly flies the flag for the region at the Edinburgh Festival and the BBC Proms, this year performing Handel’s Water Music at The Stage @ the Dock in Hull – the first Prom performed outside of London since 1930. They appear frequently at venues and festivals in Europe, and last season toured in South America, China and South Korea.
RNS has worked with conductors and soloists Christian Tetzlaff, Olli Mustonen, Reinhard Goebel, Katrina Canellakis and Nicholas McGegan; a host of world class singers including Sally Matthews, Karen Cargill and Elizabeth Watts, and collaborated with leading popular voices such as Sting, Ben Folds, John Grant and Mercury Rev.
RNS has commissioned new music and has always been actively involved in local communities and in education. Musicians support young people learning musical instruments through Sage Gateshead’s Centre for Advanced Training and through In Harmony, a long-term programme in Hawthorn Primary School in which every child in the school learns a musical instrument and plays in an orchestra.

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For further information, images, interview requests, competition or review tickets please contact:
Emily Taylor, PR & Communications Manager, Sage Gateshead
E. T. 0191 443 4617 M. 07793 762 879