Royal Northern Sinfonia

Royal Northern Sinfonia is a British chamber orchestra, founded in Newcastle upon Tyne and currently based in Gateshead. For the first 46 years of its history, the orchestra gave the bulk of its concerts at the Newcastle City Hall.[1] Since 2004, the orchestra has been resident at 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]

Royal Northern Sinfonia
Former nameNorthern Sinfonia
Concert hallSage Gateshead
Music directorLars Vogt


Michael Hall founded the ensemble in 1958 as the first permanent professional resident chamber orchestra in Britain outside London.[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 Royal Northern Sinfonia is Lars Vogt, following 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] Following contract extensions in 2005[10][11] and 2011,[12] he concluded his tenure with the orchestra at the end of the 2013-2014 season. Other conductors on the orchestra's roster currently include 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.

In May 2014, the Royal Northern Sinfonia announced the appointment of Lars Vogt as its next music director, effective September 2015.[14][15] Vogt serves as music director designate for the 2014-2015 season, in his first formal orchestral post. In November 2014, the orchestra announced the appointment of Julian Rachlin as its new principal guest conductor, effective with the 2015-2016 season.[16]

The orchestra has recorded for the NMC[17] and Naxos[18] labels, among others.

Royal Northern Sinfonia tour regularly both nationally and internationally, performing in China, Europe, South America, and South Korea.[19] In 2017, they performed at the BBC Proms' first Prom outside of London since 1930, at Stage@TheDock in Hull.[20]

Royal Northern Sinfonia has worked with Christian Tetzlaff, Olli Mustonen, Reinhard Goebel, Katrina Canellakis, Nicholas McGegan, Sally Matthews, Karen Cargill and Elizabeth Watts, and also collaborated with Sting,[21] Ben Folds, John Grant, Spiritualized and Mercury Rev.[22]

Artistic Directors, Music Directors and Principal Conductors


  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. Archived from the original on 16 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. "Royal Northern Sinfonia announces Lars Vogt as new Music Director ahead of Sage Gateshead's 10th birthday season" (Press release). Royal Northern Sinfonia. 28 May 2014. Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
  15. Imogen Tilden (2014-05-29). "Lars Vogt to replace Zehetmair at Royal Northern Sinfonia". The Guardian. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
  16. "Julian Rachlin Appointed Principal Guest Conductor of Royal Northern Sinfonia" (Press release). Royal Northern Sinfonia. 13 November 2014. Archived from the original on 30 March 2015. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
  17. Andrew Clements (2003-07-04). "Casken: Darting the Skiff; Maharal Dreaming, etc: Schiff/ Northern Sinfonia/ Casken". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
  18. Andrew Clements (2003-02-07). "Britten: Albert Herring; Gillett, Bedford et al". The Guardian. Retrieved 2009-02-07.
  19. Whetstone, David (2017-05-15). "Royal Northern Sinfonia and its director Lars Vogt are off to China and South Korea". nechronicle. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  20. Morrison, Richard (2017-07-24). "Review: The Proms in Hull; Prom 9: Fidelio and Prom 10: Aurora at the Royal Albert Hall". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  21. "Sting and the Northern Sinfonia". Classic FM. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  22. Whetstone, David (2017-07-10). "Rockers Mercury Rev join orchestra Royal Northern Sinfonia at Sage to start UK tour". nechronicle. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
  23. Ltd, Made Media. "About Royal Northern Sinfonia". Sage Gateshead. Retrieved 2017-10-26.
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