Image: Bossy Love
With the dawn of a New Year comes the inevitable race to discover 2017’s ‘hottest new act’, thankfully Sage Gateshead’s New Year New Artists mini-festival is on hand to provide an eclectic mix of live music for your delectation.
Focusing on innovation and musical excellence, the gigs on Friday 27th and Saturday 28th January aim to showcase the vast array of music that Sage Gateshead routinely programmes; given the calibre of artists the venue usually attracts, it’s a typically awesome line-up that’s been described by Director of Popular and Contemporary Performance Programming Tamsin Austin, who has curated the festival alongside Thorben Dittes, Director of Royal Northern Sinfonia and Classical Music, as a “Sage Gateshead mega-mix”.
Things kicking off with local songstress Ditte Elly on the Friday night, performing alongside a 10-piece orchestra and choir to present a collection of songs inspired by the North East, she’ll be ably assisted by support act Jake Houlsby, meaning it’s a promising start to the weekend. Providing an alternative in Hall One, Royal Northern Sinfonia are joined by three classical stars of tomorrow, hand-selected by music director Lars Vogt. Danae Dörken (piano), Asya Fateyeva (saxophone) and Gabriel Schwabe (cello) will perform concertos by Mozart, Glazunov and Schumann. The classical programme is an important part of the event, with the aim of broadening music lovers’ horizons. “I really hope folk will buy the day pass and just totally immerse themselves in what’s on offer,” says Thorben Dittes.
The Saturday afternoon line-up sees a diverse range of acts take to Hall Two and Northern Rock Foundation Hall, with a one-ticket bundle allowing punters to take in a bit of everything. Folk and jazz rubs shoulders with classical performances, with highlights of the programme including Viennese pianist Christopher Park, sitarist Jasdeep Singh Degun and BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award winners Talisk.
The eclectic nature of the mini-festival showcases Sage Gateshead’s continued commitment to diverse programming,
The importance of discovering new talent across the genre spectrum is high on both Tamsin and Thorben’s list of priorities. For Thorben, ensuring classical music also reaches a new audience is of huge importance. “This is one of my central pre-occupations. I honestly believe classical music is for everyone and can speak to anyone.” Initiatives like the Bar 5 scheme for under 30s, where tickets are sold for £5 with a bottle of beer included, have been instrumental in bringing new audiences to classical performances. “The next generation of classical performers is also starting to experiment with concert formats and the way they relate to audiences.”
Saturday night’s separately ticketed line-up goes one further in the variety stakes, providing Southern Gothic alt. country blues from Amythyst Kiah, poppy RnB from Bossy Love and electronic composer Anna Meredith, who performs alongside classical musicians supplemented by electronics, guitars and percussion. “She is the perfect headliner for the festival as a crossover artist from classical to electronic, she is innovative, creative, dynamic and her live show is incredible.” Enthuses Tamsin.
The eclectic nature of the mini-festival showcases Sage Gateshead’s continued commitment to diverse programming, with Hall Two in particular proving itself to be a flexible space – recent gigs have spanned everything from grime to techno and folk to raga, with October’s TUSK Festival bringing experimental international sounds to the venue. “It’s artistically democratic and we do our best to attract as diverse a programme of artists as we can to appeal to a wide range of audiences,” Tamsin insists. “Sage is full of people who just love music and thrive on making really great events happen.”