ROYAL Northern Sinfonia had no sooner launched its new season than Covid-19 yet again cruelly put the wraps on audiences visiting Sage Gateshead.

But the show has to go on, and a new live stream introduced for those unable to attend socially-distanced shows had been set up and continues to provide a critical link to audiences at home.

RNS’ latest programme, beamed live to homes across the region and beyond, took an audience on a musical journey through Italy, opened with Stravinsky’s Pulcinella Suite, from the ballet telling the story of an Italian Punch-like figure.

Sound quality on headphones was perfect and captured the acoustic magnificence of Hall One, while deft editing of camera angles provided an overview of the musical action. Highlights included wonderful oboe passages from Michael O’Donnell and fun sparring between double bass Philip Nelson and trombonist Tom Berry.

A contemporary treat came in the shape of the American composer Caroline Shaw’s Entr’acte. Inspired by one of Haydn’s quartets, the piece opened with a charming melody which quickly disintegrated, as harmonies melted into each other.

Writing to his sister on the progress of his Symphony No 4 ‘Italian’, composer Felix Mendelssohn said: “It will be the jolliest piece I have ever done, especially the last movement”.

Conducted by Dinis Sousa, the orchestra’s performance radiated an exultant energy. Applause recorded by home audience members at a previous concert and spliced together, added to the atmosphere.

Friday's concert at 7.30pm with RNS features Debussy’s Prélude and La Mer, as well as Sally Beamish’s Piano Concerto No 1, with pianist Alasdair Beatson.

At 8pm on Saturday, RNS Moves, an inclusive ensemble of disabled and non-disabled musicians, will perform an eclectic mix of pieces showcasing the virtuosity and versatility of the group.

For tickets visit