A SAMLING Artist Programme Masterclass and Concert, at Sage Gateshead, offered a rare glimpse behind the scenes of the creative process, as young musical talents from around the world were taken through their paces by leaders of the highest level.

The culmination of week of an intensive week-long residency with the Hexham-based Samling Institute for Young Artists, it featured six singers and two pianists working on every aspect of their craft.

Leaders were the distinguished soprano Yvonne Kenny, renowned pianist and accompanist Malcolm Martineau and actor Alex Hassell, who brought the art of stagecraft to the mix. They were supported by pianist Samling Artist Ian Tindale.

Each artist sang a piece from beginning to end before being assessed and having their skills honed.

Soprano Anna Cavaliero gave a sterling account of Deh vieni, non tardar, from Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro. Praising her flexibility, Kenny encouraged her to sing a little slower and gentler to set up the mood and fine-tuned some of the subtleties.

Tenor Satriya Krisna, who gave a muscular rendition of Richard Strauss’ Heimliche Aufforderung, came under the scrutiny of Martineau. He suggested Krisna come across as a little tipsy, and to inject different personality from his “natural sweet one”. The effect was telling.

Hassell helped soprano Sarah Gilford visualise her feelings in her performance of How beautiful it is, from Britten’s The Turn of the Screw, teasing out new emotional subtleties.

Soprano Rose Stachniewska had her take on Duparc’s Phidyle moulded further by Martineau, while Kenny helped tenor Andrés Presno squeeze every last ounce of colour out of Ah! fuyez, douce image, from Massenet’s Manon.

Baritone Jerome Knox gave a wonderful account of Is my team ploughing, from Butterworth’s setting of A Shropshire Lad. It features an imagined conversation between a dead soldier and his still living friend who is now with the girl he left behind when he died.

Hassell invited Knox to explore the poem’s layers, delving deeper as he nudged ever closer to the question of the girlfriend, coaxing out a deeply moving ending, “your girl is well contented. Be still, my lad, and sleep”.

The evening was rounded off with a series of thrilling recitals, with accompaniment also provided by pianists Yi-Shing Cheng and Kunal Lahiry, who took part in the programme. An occasion enjoyed by keen amateurs and general musical lovers alike.

Gavin Engelbrecht