ROYAL Northern Sinfonia celebrated its 60th birthday with a bumper programme of music at Sage Gateshead that showcased a collective talent that has won the hearts of countless audiences, while giving individual players the chance to shine.

The evening, under the baton of Lars Vogt, opened with a rare outing of Beethoven’s Calm Sea and and Prosperous Voyage, with the chorus’ hushed entry evoking a sense of tranquility.

Faure’s Pavane was eloquently conveyed with sterling playing from flute Amy Yule, while the RNS struck a sensitive balance with the chorus in Mozart’s Laudate Dominum.

Soprano Sarah Tynan gave a radiant account of Mozart’s Exsultate Jubilate, singing with power and passion. Her high Cs came naturally and her ornamentation of the final Alleluia brimmed with joy.

Poulenc’s Concert champêtre for harpsichord and orchestra was fronted by Mahan Esfahani, who enjoyed a natural repartee with the RNS in a scintillating performance. Rapturous applause was rewarded with a delightful gem by Purcell.

Prokofiev’s Symphony No 1 opened with a brisk and breezy first movement. Vogt negotiated the work’s witty turns of phrase with brilliant comic timing and drove the orchestra helter skelter through the finale, taking it to a thrilling climax.

Composer Errollyn Wallen’s Fondant, written for the RNS, fizzed with playful energy, while Haydn’s Symphony No 6 in D Le Matin and Brahms’ Variations on a Theme by Joseph Haydn were wonderfully moulded.

The concert was rounded off a sizzling rendition of Handel’s Fireworks accompanied by pyrotechnics and shower of balloons, before everyone partied into the night with a swing session with the The Mini Big Band.

Gavin Engelbrecht