Royal Northern Sinfonia

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The Royal Northern Sinfonia is a British chamber orchestra, based initially in Newcastle upon Tyne and currently in Gateshead. For the first 46 years of its history the orchestra gave the bulk of its concerts at the City Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne.[1] Since 2004 the orchestra has been resident at The Sage Gateshead. In June 2013 Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II bestowed the title 'Royal' on the orchestra, formally naming it the Royal Northern Sinfonia.[2]

Michael Hall founded the ensemble in 1958 as the first permanent chamber orchestra in Britain.[3] The ensemble gave its first concert on 24 September 1958 as the 'Sinfonia Orchestra', at the City Hall, Newcastle upon Tyne, and gave six concerts in its first season, 1958-1959.[4] Hall acted as the organization's single leader, in effect as "general manager, secretary, artistic director, conductor and fund-raiser",[5] though without a formal title. The word 'Northern' was added to the orchestra's name in 1959 to give the name of 'Northern Sinfonia'.[6] The orchestra became an established institution in 1959, with Humphrey Noble chosen as the first chairman of the ensemble's management committee.[7] Hall resigned from the orchestra in 1964 but returned as a guest conductor in subsequent years. After Hall's departure, Rudolf Schwarz and Boris Brott took over musical leadership of the ensemble in parallel, with Schwarz being the first titled artistic director of the ensemble. Keith Statham served as the orchestra's general manager from 1966 to 1974.

The current music director of the Northern Sinfonia is Thomas Zehetmair, who was appointed to the post in November 2001, starting with the 2002-2003 season, for an initial contract of three years and six weeks of concerts each season.[8][9] In August 2005 he extended his contract for another three years until 2008.[10][11] His most recent contract extension as music director is through the 2013-2014 season,[12] at which time he is scheduled to conclude his tenure with the orchestra. In addition to Zehetmair as Music Director, the orchestra currently has as its Principal Conductors John Wilson since 2009 and Mario Venzago since 1 January 2010. Venzago's current contract as Principal Conductor is through 2013.[13] Simon Halsey served as Principal Conductor of the Northern Sinfonia's Choral Programme from 2004 through 2012.

The orchestra has recorded for the NMC[14] and Naxos[15] labels, among others.

Artistic Directors, Music Directors and Principal Conductors[edit]


  1. ^ David Ward (2004-06-04). "Sinfonia crosses the river". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  2. ^ "Queen honours 'Royal' Northern Sinfonia" (Press release). Northern Sinfonia/The Sage, Gateshead. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-16. 
  3. ^ David Lumsdaine (2012-09-11). "Michael Hall obituary". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  4. ^ Griffiths, Bill, Northern Sinfonia. Northumbria University Press, p. 3 (ISBN 1904794076).
  5. ^ Griffiths, p. 5.
  6. ^ Griffiths, p. 13.
  7. ^ Griffiths, p. 16.
  8. ^ David Mermelstein (2001-12-02). "A Violinist Who Can Do Many Things". New York Times. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  9. ^ James Jolly (2001-11-06). "Northern Sinfonia appoint Zehetmair". Gramophone. Retrieved 2009-02-06. 
  10. ^ "Conductor continues". The Northern Echo, 1 August 2005.
  11. ^ "Northern Sinfonia, BBC Proms, Royal Albert Hall, London" The Northern Echo, 2 August 2005.
  12. ^ Alfred Hickling (2011-01-31). "Northern Sinfonia/Zehetmair - review (Sage, Gateshead)". The Guardian. Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  13. ^ "Mario Venzago joins Northern Sinfonia team". Gramophone. 2009-12-18. Retrieved 2012-11-11. 
  14. ^ Andrew Clements (2003-07-04). "Casken: Darting the Skiff; Maharal Dreaming, etc: Schiff/ Northern Sinfonia/ Casken". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 
  15. ^ Andrew Clements (2003-02-07). "Britten: Albert Herring; Gillett, Bedford et al.". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-07. 

External links[edit]