Annual BBC3 festival returns to the Sage

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Gateshead’s Sage arena will be transformed into a hotbed of performance, debate and education this March, with BBC Radio 3’s Free Thinking festival attracting some of the county’s most acclaimed creators and academics.

The festival will  attract some of the county’s most acclaimed creators and academics

Newcastle University’s contribution will put working class and feminist voices in the spotlight, as well as featuring cutting-edge creative and scientific content from some of the institution’s most talented individuals.

The event kicks off to a musical start on Friday 9th with the Voices of Hope Choir – which includes staff and graduates of the university – performing a brand-new piece composed by Lucy Pankhurst.

Direct descent of Emmeline Pankhurst, the composer will pay tribute to the famed Suffragette with a text based on her own words, marking 100 years since women won the vote in the UK.

As winners of The Choir or the Year competition, Radio 3 anticipates that the vocal group will show “how music for many voices connects individuals and groups”.

Musician and lecturer Kathryn Tickell will also bring local and working-class voices to the forefront on Friday in a special episode. Exploring the rich folk traditions of the North East, the show will feature sea shanties and mining songs performed live by The Keelers, as well as a set of traditional Ethiopian songs, reimagined by folk musicians Haymanot Tesfa and Arian Sadr.

Saturday morning will see a fascinating trip into the music of the past, with senior lecturer Kirsten Gibson reviewing recent interpretations of 16th and 17th century songs.

The art of the spoken word is to be equally celebrated on Sunday, with show The Verb exploring the best in new poetry, writing and performance. Multi-award winning poet and lecturer Sinéad Morrissey will be sharing an exciting new commission for the show.

A performance from folk duet The Unthanks is also hotly anticipated by The Verb, their unique style described by the Sage as an “eclectic approach in combining traditional English folk, particularly Northumbrian folk music, with other musical genres.”

Scientific faculties are also to be represented this year, with the weird and wonderful behaviour of everything – “from schools of fish to starlings to atomic particles” – explained in depth by the university’s own Professor Melissa Bateson and Dr Richard Bevan.

Newcastle University’s contribution will put working class and feminist voices in the spotlight

Engineering and architectural studies likewise won’t be amiss with Dr Sean Wilkinson as he puts the Tyne Bridge under the spotlight, discussing the world’s megastructures and the human aspiration to build them.

Last modified: 28th February 2018

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