Curtains Up on Sage / BBC Collaboration

On Tuesday night, 21st February, Room C9 at The Sage, Gateshead, was the venue for an official launch; the launch of an exciting new collaboration, further cementing the longstanding relationship between The Sage and The BBC, who first gave them broadcasting advice, before building even commenced. Songs of Praise and The Antiques Roadshow have all hosted shows at The Sage and the annual BBC 3 Free Thinking Festival has taken place at The Sage for several years, featuring a wide array of speakers.

The current development involves BBC Wales, who will be hosting the live finals of the prestigious Young Musician of The Year Competition at The Sage, in May of this year. As the BBC Wales representative said, it seems a perfect and logical opportunity to build on their relationship, especially as the venue is now very much recognised internationally as well as nationally.

Anthony Sargeant, General Director of The Sage, told us how happy he is to be cementing the connections already established with the BBC, especially in the North. He talked about how fitting it is that The Sage be involved with Young Musician of The Year; after all, the building has always had a reputation as a leading centre for education. Indeed, one of the three degrees they offer is in folk music; just one of many ways in which the centre encourages and supports young musicians in the area. Whilst sharing his excitement about the finals in May, he also guaranteed the young musicians something very typical of The Sage; a warm welcome and great support.

Peter Salmon, from BBC North, spoke of his obvious love and respect for The Sage, with its "authenticity, warmth and inclusiveness to all generations." He then divulged to us some of the exciting things the BBC are putting together in the North at the present time, not least two television programmes, filmed locally, which will build on the success of Byker Grove and The Likely Lads. He believes there are huge opportunities in the North, for the BBC and feels that at present foundation stones are being laid in the area, which will, in time, redress the balance in that previously the BBC was predominantly Southern based.

Speaking of Young Musician of The Year, Peter remarked on how many artists from the North have participated in the competition during its thirty four years. The artists who have gone on to win have helped to inspire others to believe that colourful and extraordinary careers are possible, in much the way the Sage does through its education programmes.

Paul Bullock, spoke of his excitement at finally having the opportunity in 2010 to be involved in Young Musician of The Year, following twenty years working with a series of music programmes. Young Musician, he told us, is one of the BBC's longest running series; now holding a strong place in the culture of the UK, it is going from strength to strength. Even more exciting, he feels, is being able to bring it to The Sage, "without doubt one of the most exciting venues in the UK, and beyond."

With that, he introduced us to Peter Moore, who won Young Musician of The Year in 2008, aged just 12. He, along with a pianist for accompaniment, played us two classical pieces on two different trombones. Considering he is still only sixteen, the talent and poise which he demonstrated were really quite remarkable, bringing home to me what this competition is all about. Watching him made me feel excited about seeing what the three finalists have to offer in May and who is crowned Young Musician of The Year 2012. Peter is taking part in a BBC Young Musician Recital in Cardiff on 4March, alongside 2002 winner Jennifer Pike and 2010 Category Winner, Lucy Landymore.

In terms of the BBC and The Sage; as someone who has loved the Sage and all it represents, since it first opened, I feel it is a very exciting venture. Both sides clearly see great value in the collaboration, both in terms of friendships formed and professional ventures. As these connections flourish, I look forward to seeing what is in store for The Sage, The BBC and the North East.

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Peter Moore


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