ROYAL Northern Sinfonia’s much-loved violinist Bradley Creswick will step down as leader of the orchestra at the end of their 60th anniversary season, it has been announced.

Since joining the orchestra in 1984 Bradley has become a firm favourite with audiences, bringing a unique energy, warmth and animation to performances.

His rendition of Vaughan Williams’ famous The Lark Ascending has been a highlight for music-lovers over the years, playing to packed concert halls on every occasion.

Bradley will be performing his signature piece one last time as leader on Friday February 1 at Sage Gateshead – the home of Royal Northern Sinfonia.

The programme titled Creswick’s Aviary will also include Rossini’s The Thieving Magpie Overture and Rautavaara’s haunting Cantus Arcticus. A pre-concert talk with Bradley will take place at 6.30pm, before the 7.30pm concert.

Bradley said he first heard The Lark Ascending when he was 15 and was moved to tears.

He added: “I just thought it was so, so beautiful and that is when I started to play it.

“In 1984 I was asked to play it with Northern Sinfonia. I spent a few days lying on my back trying to listen to Larks. It is a blissful sound and there is such a symbolic association with the human soul.”

Bradley was born in West Sussex and began learning the violin aged 12. Born to a circus and fairground performer (his father) and jazz singer (his mother) he was destined to entertain.

He went on to study at the Royal College of Music before moving to Newcastle to join Northern Sinfonia – bestowed its Royal title in 2013.

Among Bradley’s personal highlights with Royal Northern Sinfonia are the EMI recording of The Lark Ascending and Concerto Accademico with Richard Hickox, performing Stravinsky’s Apollo alongside his long-term RNS co-leader Kyra Humphreys under conductor Thomas Zehetmair, and performing Beethoven’s Piano Concertos with Lars Vogt.

Bradley, 62, is regularly asked to guest lead a wide range of orchestras and he loves to play with friends, giving recitals around the country. He has occasionally been heard playing western swing fiddle at Sage Gateshead’s annual SummerTyne Americana Festival.

He said he was looking forward to spending more time with his family but had welcomed the invitation to return as a guest leader with RNS in the future.

He said: “I’ll miss being able to play full-time with such fantastic musicians. Working and making music with them and having the time to rehearse with them and let the music grow, is an amazing experience.”

Thorben Dittes, director of Royal Northern Sinfonia and Classical Music Programme at Sage Gateshead, said: “Bradley has become a regional treasure since joining the orchestra and I know I speak for everyone when I say we will miss him greatly.

“He is a class act and we are delighted he will be returning as guest leader in the future. We wish him well with the next chapter of his career. Meanwhile, the search for a new leader begins.”

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