Northern Chords Festival has a new vision for the future, including operatic productions, and mentoring for the North East’s finest up and coming musicians.
“This will be remembered by all participants as a day of dazzling brilliance” The Arts Desk, Festival Day 2020
Northern Chords Festival brings together artists from around the world to play unique concerts that excite, surprise and inspire audiences across the region. We present energetic, passionate and friendly performances by internationally renowned artists in venues ranging from intimate churches to major concert halls, overwhelming audiences of all ages and backgrounds year on year. We are extremely proud that our audiences return each year to be taken on another thrilling journey and are looking forward to welcoming and delighting them with this year’s programme.
This is has been a complex, anxious and unnerving few of years for all musicians and artists and so it was an absolutely thrill and pleasure to stage events throughout the pandemic. All concerts sold-out and you can read the Arts Desk review of the 2020 event here.
In 2023 we continue with a full weekend of events (19 -21 May) including a fabulous concert celebrating the coronation of Kings Charles III, with the London Mozart Players joining us for the first time. 2014 BBC Young Musician of the Year, Martin James Bartlett returns to the Festival and for the first time we welcome soprano Julieth Lozano, who will represent Columbia in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World later this year. I hope to see you there!
Jonathan Bloxham, Artistic Director & Founder
A short history
Jonathan Bloxham discovered the cello while still at primary school in the North East. His talent was fostered and encouraged by the Gateshead Schools Music Service and he began to consider becoming a professional musician. At the age of 16, he left the region to study with some of the best young musicians at the world-renowned Yehudi Menuhin School, followed by the Royal College of Music and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
Aged just 20, Jonathan was keen to return to the region that had nurtured his talent. In 2008 he decided to start Northern Chords, with the dual aim of bringing some of the most talented young musicians in the world to inspire more local youngsters and amateur musicians to follow their dreams and to develop their own musical talents, and to delight and excite local audiences with concerts, programmes, and musicians that they wouldn’t otherwise get to hear in their area.
The Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary in 2019, and has ranged in size from 3 chamber music concerts over a weekend to 11 concerts over 7 days including our festival orchestra and chorus. High profile young musicians from all over the world including BBC New Generation Artist Ben Johnson and Classic FM’s ‘Next Big Thing’ Benjamin Baker have been introduced to the region. In 2010, the festival presented its first Northern Chords Young Musician of the Year Award, sponsored by Newcastle University, demonstrating the festival’s commitment to inspiring the next generation of musicians as well as enriching the cultural life of the region.
We have worked with young people from hugely diverse backgrounds, not only providing them with tuition but also involving them in performances such as Britten’s Saint Nicolas alongside internationally renowned musicians. In 2015, 100 people – many of whom who had never even stepped inside a concert hall, never mind actually played an instrument – took part in a performance of Ligeti’s Symphony for 100 Metronomes at Sage Gateshead. Over the life of the festival we have commissioned more than 15 new works from both regional and international composers, and in 2016 we commissioned a new choreography to 3 pieces of music in collaboration with dancers from the Wayne McGregor Company.
2019 was the festival’s 10th anniversary – and so as well as introducing new artists to the region we brought back many of the favourite pieces and musicians from over the years. It was so special to celebrate our anniversary with our wonderful audience.
The Festival could not take place without the very generous support of its partners, sponsors, trusts and foundations and individuals.
The Northern Chords Festival Orchestra was hugely honoured to be invited by the EU Cultural Commission to perform at the Europe Day 2018 and 2019 concerts in London at St. John’s Smith Square in May. A short selection of clips from the 2018 concert can be found below.
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