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Leader of Royal Northern Sinfonia

Posted on 5 March 2019

“There’s no better chamber orchestra in Britain.” Andrew Clements, The Guardian

Application closing date Tuesday 23rd April 2019


After 2 stints as Leader of the Orchestra, for a total of 28 years, Bradley Creswick will step down as Leader of Royal Northern Sinfonia at the end of the current season.

Accordingly, we seek to appoint an extremely gifted musician, with outstanding leadership and communication skills, to the position of Leader of Royal Northern Sinfonia. The ideal candidate will have wide-ranging experience at the highest level encompassing solo and chamber work, directing and programming, as well as orchestral leading. The Leader will be intimately involved in the artistic life of the orchestra and is actively encouraged to make contributions to the programming process, from suggesting repertoire or possible artistic partners to driving individual collaborative projects.

Royal Northern Sinfonia

Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2018/19, Royal Northern Sinfonia is the orchestra of Sage Gateshead, and the UK’s only full-time contract chamber orchestra. The orchestra has built a world-wide reputation for the North East through the quality of its music-making and the immediacy of the connections the musicians make with audiences. After 12 years with Thomas Zehetmair as Music Director, since 2015 the orchestra has worked with Lars Vogt as Music Director and Julian Rachlin as Principal Guest Conductor; Zehetmair retains a position as Conductor Laureate. The orchestra has an increasing international profile and over the last three seasons alone has toured to 12 different countries.

The orchestra has a strong commitment to the region, through its concerts at Sage Gateshead and further afield, as well as through the performance of chamber music in various formations, from string quartets to directed ensembles. They have always been actively involved in local communities and education, through In Harmony, through the Centre for Advanced Training at Sage Gateshead, and through creative learning work.

The orchestra’s core repertoire is that of a classical chamber orchestra of 37 players, but it fulfils multiple functions and the size of the orchestra can increase to encompass larger symphonic repertoire, as well as film galas and cross-genre work as part of the wider Sage Gateshead artistic programme; in recent years the orchestra has collaborated with artists such as Sting, John Grant and Efterklang. Through the active broadening of its work, RNS is seeking to explore and define the role of a Chamber Orchestra in the 21st Century and we would expect the Leader to play an active part in this process.

Currently, the orchestra performs around 90 concerts in a season and works up to 225 days in any one year.

About the Role

The Leader of Royal Northern Sinfonia will have those duties and responsibilities that are customarily associated with the position of Leader of the Orchestra. It is anticipated that they will lead a majority of the orchestra’s work and that ideally they will have a base in the region.

These duties in particular will include, but will not be limited to:

  • To be a key artistic figure liaising between the orchestra, the Music Director and the Administration, as well as with Guest Conductors
  • To lead the orchestra during rehearsals and performances for concerts, live relays and recordings for radio, television and all electronic media
  • Performing solos and concertos, as well as chamber music projects, and to play/direct a certain number of projects per season
  • To work effectively with all Section Leaders in order for them to achieve the highest possible artistic standards themselves and from their sections in all circumstances
  • To be actively involved in the recruitment process for new members as a member and/or chair of audition panels, and by hearing musicians who are on trial for vacant positions
  • To advise on any personnel and contractual matters pertaining to the orchestra including fixing decisions
  • The Leader has overall responsibility for orchestra discipline whilst the orchestra is in rehearsal or performance. We would expect the Leader to be proactive in time management of rehearsals
  • To act as an ambassador for the orchestra, including attending any functions or receptions which may be required
  • In conjunction with the Head of Orchestral Operations assessing the suitability of players to step-up within their section to perform the role of Section Leader
  • All duties and responsibilities outlined in the Player Agreement which apply to Section Leaders including:
    - Section Leaders will be required to attend any meetings called to discuss bowing or general technique. They will also be responsible for ensuring that the parts within their section are correctly marked by the Orchestral Librarian
    - Section Leaders will be required to attend meetings from time to time with the Administration and/or Music Director
    - Section Leaders will be required to attend string or wind auditions, as appropriate
  • To undertake any other duties as may be reasonably required in the post

The salary will be commensurate with the position of Leader and subject to negotiation.

Knowledge, skills and experience required for the role

The ideal candidate will be an exceptional player able to demonstrate the following knowledge, skills and experience:


  • Highly reputable classical music training
  • Performer of outstanding calibre with relevant experience in a professional orchestra
  • Ability to play orchestral solos and concertos as a soloist when required in the repertoire, as well as to direct from the violin
  • Experience of leading a professional orchestra
  • Knowledge and experience of performing chamber orchestra repertoire


  • Extensive period of professional playing in a major orchestra would be a great advantage
  • Considerable experience of having held a position as a Leader
  • Proven expertise as a practitioner in a broad range of music and performance activity, especially including chamber music and creative learning work

Personal Skills

  • Commitment to delivering and maintaining a very high standard of work
  • Strong communication skills, leadership qualities and communication skills both on and off the platform
  • Able to lead, motivate and inspire a team, and to work under pressure
  • Able to establish and develop harmonious and positive working relationships with a diverse range of people
  • Strong and confident decision-making skills
  • Ability to understand and to converse in English
  • An understanding and commitment to diversity and inclusion
  • Able to put equal value on the wide range of work undertaken by the orchestra
  • Able to act as a role model and proactive team leader who builds positive and supportive relationships with all members of the orchestra

How to Apply

Suitably qualified applicants are welcome to apply up to Tuesday 23rd April 2019. Successful applicants will be invited to audition in due course and a limited number of candidates will be offered trial periods with the orchestra, commencing September 2019.

To apply for this position please send a full CV and completed monitoring form to

Monitoring Form (PDF)
Monitoring Form (Word)

Please quote reference number 71101 on your CV and in any correspondence with us.

For an informal discussion regarding the position, please contact:
Caroline Newton, Head of Orchestral Operations, Royal Northern Sinfonia / 0191 443 4566

Personal Details
Please be sure to provide up to date contact details and inform us should you change any of your personal information during the recruitment process.

We will only contact the two referees of those individuals who are offered an audition, so you can provide these details at a later date if required.

Educational and employment history
Please be sure to list your educational and employment history fully, starting with the most recent events. Where you have worked with other orchestras and ensembles on a freelance basis please give as much information as possible about the length of time you have been working with any orchestra and ensemble, the type of work you have been doing with them and, if possible, a percentage of their overall work that you take on.

Monitoring data
The information you provide in this section is used for the purposes of equal opportunities monitoring and does not form part of the selection process. North Music Trust is committed to being an equal opportunities employer. We encourage enquiries and applications from all sections of the large and varied community to which we belong, and we seek to recruit a team of staff that reflects our surrounding community.

Disability Discrimination Act 1995
The act defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term effect in the ability to carry out normal day to day activities. Should you require any further guidance on this please contact Human Resources on 0191 443 4666 for an informal discussion.

Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
Due to the nature of the work that Sage Gateshead undertakes some posts are considered to be exempt from the above act. Please ensure that you disclose all unspent convictions and other relevant information to us. Any information provided will be treated in the strictest of confidence and will be considered only if the disclosure is relevant to the post for which you are applying. Should you require any further guidance on this please contact Human Resources on 0191 443 4666 for an informal discussion.