FOLLOWING intensive training over two weekends from some of the world’s most experienced classical artists, 25 young people selected for the latest Samling Academy project gave a concert at Sage Gateshead that held an audience captivated throughout.

Performing a mix of opera, folk song and sacred music, they all opened together with a glorious account of JS Bach’s Du heilige Brunst susser Trost.

Among the many stars of the evening was soprano Ana Fernandez Guerra, who gave assured account of Mozart’s Abendempfindung, later singing Debiles’ Les filles de Cadix with effortless high notes.

Yazdan Qafouri inhabited the character of Papageno in a spirited rendition of Der Vogelfanger, from Mozart’s Die Zauberflaute, while Crispin Lord had a firm control of his rich baritone voice in It is Enough from Mendelssohn’s Elija. It was followed by a bright and breezy ensemble performance of the composer’s I would that my love.

Baritone Charlie Jefford’s The Ash Grove was tender and poised, soprano Sophie Darymple sang like a nightingale in The Skye Boat Song and Rebecca Madden’s delivery of MacMillan’s Scot’s Song was brilliantly modulated.

Tosti's Ideale was sung with a powerful baritone by Will Ford, contrasting with the silky tenor of James Draper in the composer's Tristezza.

The American Spiritual Where Were You When They Crucified My Lord was sung with feeling and authority by tenor Matthew Lack, while Sophia Smith Galer conveyed an aching sense of sadness in the traditional Lebanese song Araftu Beirut.

Habanera from Bizet’s Carmen rounded off the evening, with sterling singing from soprano Claire Ward. Directed by Caroline Dowdle and with piano accompaniment by returning Samling artists James Baillieu, Lana Bode, Ian Tindale and Jonathan Ware, it was a triumph for all concerned.

Gavin Engelbrecht