Young Talent Rises; CLASSICAL They Are Banking on Youth and a Range of Concert Times at the Sage Gateshead to Build the Classical Audience, as David Whetstone Reports

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Byline: David Whetstone

If anything would seem to need nurturing at a time when money is tight, it's classical music.

Oft-expressed fears that the audience is dwindling would not have been allayed by a concert at The Sage Gateshead in December by City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra.

If these 'big bands' are what people want, it wasn't borne out by this sparse attendance.

You can't accuse the Sage programmers of not trying. They have put together a lively and varied classical music season and devised alternatives to the traditional - and, for many people, inconvenient - 7.30pm start.

If there's a new audience to be wooed, why not look for it later in the evening since not everyone knocks off at 5pm and goes to bed at 10pm these days? Why no, as the Sage has done, programme a Late Mix strand of 9pm concerts featuring slightly more adventurous offerings? There's one on March 7 featuring music from one of Mozart's "most weird and wonderful creations" (to quote from the Sage events diary). This is The Abduction from the Seraglio, set in a Turkish harem and featuring a Turkish style of music which knocked its audience sideways at the time.

"Too many notes," the Austrian Emperor Joseph II is said to have remarked to the young composer (you'll recall his put-down if you've seen the film Amadeus).

Similarly, why not programme concerts on a Sunday morning, at 11am? Not everyone goes to church these days, or even the supermarket.

The Sage has been alive to this opportunity, scheduling a series of concerts featuring some of the rising stars of the classical music world.

On March 3 the Polish violinist Bartosz Woroch will take the Hall Two stage for a programme of Schumann and Schubert.

Woroch joined London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama as a student in 2009 and is now a professor. …