Ben Folds was the frontman of Ben Folds Five before going solo in 2000, and he has now earned a reputation as a singular and influential voice in the world of popular music. In addition to numerous albums and a recent reunion tour with Ben Folds Five, Folds has recorded multiple studio albums, as well as become a critically acclaimed judge on NBC’s a cappella singing contest, The Sing-Off.
For more than a decade, Folds has performed with some of the world’s greatest orchestras, including record-breaking sell-out Australian symphonic shows, repeatedly sold out shows at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC with the National Symphony Orchestra, and at the Boston Pops. In 2012, Folds was commissioned to compose his first classical piano concerto/
Folds is a member of the distinguished Artist Committee for Americans For The Arts, and is also an outspoken advocate for music therapy and music education.
Royal Northern Sinfonia, Orchestra of Sage Gateshead, the UK’s only full-time chamber orchestra, has built a distinctive reputation as a fresh-thinking and versatile orchestra. The orchestra was founded in 1958 by BBC musicologist and producer Michael Hall. The Queen bestowed the title of ‘Royal’ on Northern Sinfonia in 2013, recognising it as one of the UK’s finest orchestras – the first time any UK orchestra has been so honoured for over twenty years.
Under its longest serving Music Director, Thomas Zehetmair, RNS has taken a dedicated approach to stylistic excellence in all genres, and has developed an extensive and ambitious repertoire. All underpinned by Zehetmair’s maxim to perform “as if the ink was still wet on the page.” From 2014 he will become Conductor Laureate of the orchestra.
RNS has worked with many of the most in-demand artists in the world including Sir Mark Elder, Yannick Nézet-Séguin, Ian Bostridge and Heinz Holliger, whilst also offering opportunities for the next generation of star conductors and musicians. The orchestra’s commitment to contemporary music is highlighted by frequent commissions and premieres, most recently by Simon Bainbridge, David Lang and John Woolrich.
Part of a vibrant programme of music at Sage Gateshead, the orchestra regularly collaborates with artists from other art forms including Sting, Pet Shop Boys, Joanna Newsom, Efterklang, Spiritualized, Lau and Raul Malo.
Performances in its landmark home are complemented by an extensive programme from the local region to the international stage. Residencies at the Aldeburgh Festival and Hong Kong Arts Festival are among the many recent invitations to perform around the world, as well as regular performances at the BBC Proms.
RNS works with adults and young people across the region. Regular projects include premieres of student compositions, whilst the individual members play a key role in Sage Gateshead’s Young Musicians Programme and In Harmony project.