Sting delighted audiences in his hometown with songs from his latest album and Broadway musical ‘The Last Ship’ on 24th and 25th April 2015 to benefit the Sage Gateshead 10th Birthday Appeal.

Sting with band at Sage Gateshead
Sting with band at Sage Gateshead

These were the only UK performances of their kind and were supported by Cunard in the company’s 175th anniversary year.

Cunard has historic links to the shipyards of the Tyne and a proud heritage with the North East. This great partnership saw 23 Cunard ships being built on Tyneside, 15 of them at Swan Hunter including ones that became the stuff of legend like the four-funnelled Mauretania and Carpathia, which rescued all the survivors from Titanic.

Sting said: "’The Last Ship’ stories are based on the community I was brought up in, the shipbuilding community of Wallsend, and so to bring it back here like this is a wonderful honour and very emotional. I’m thrilled to be here.

“I was born and raised as close to the river as you can possibly get. I lived in Gerald Street, which is one of the streets that lead down to the shipyard, and I could walk out of my house and see giant ships at the end of my street, which was a massive symbol for me. I watched them launched, which is a kind of apocalyptic event for a child. I watched thousands of men walk down to the yard every day and watched them walk back home every night and wondered with some trepidation whether that wouldn’t be my destiny too. I didn’t want it to be – I had other dreams.

“But like everyone in the town we were immensely proud of the ships that were built there, some of the largest, most important ships ever built, right there at the end of my street – some of them by Cunard. And that was something that the town got a lot of pride from.”

Last October, Sting performed songs from ‘The Last Ship’ on board Cunard’s flagship, Queen Mary 2, in New York.

He continued, “I played on the Queen Mary 2 last year – she was berthed in New York City. What a beautiful ship – I had a great time entertaining the crew and some of the passengers. It was something I’d like to do again.”

David Dingle, Chairman of Cunard, said: “We’re delighted that in Cunard’s 175th anniversary year, we have been able to give back, through Sting’s ‘The Last Ship’ shows at the Sage Theatre, to the Tyneside community whose shipyards built no fewer than 23 Cunard ships, including legendary liners like Mauretania and Carpathia. ‘The Last Ship’ has songs that go to the heart of this country’s shipbuilding industries and reflect Cunard’s own proud heritage with the North East.”

Opened in 2004, Sage Gateshead has established itself as an international home for music and musical discovery. Its concert programme runs throughout the year, attracting artists from across the world and incorporating all genres of music.

The venue, designed by Foster and Partners, is home to Royal Northern Sinfonia. This orchestra was founded in 1968 and received royal status from Queen Elizabeth II in June 2013. Sage Gateshead is also home to the North East’s longstanding Folkworks programme – formed in 1988 to promote and encourage the furtherance of folk music across the region. What’s more, Sage Gateshead runs many other musical education programmes,– each enabling people of all ages and abilities to become involved in music. 70 per cent of the work of these programmes takes place outside of the venue and at the heart of local communities.

In June 2012, Arts Council England set Sage Gateshead the challenge of raising £4 million by July 2015 (in order to claim an additional £2 million in match-funding) to help secure the future of this important work. In December 2014, Sage Gateshead will celebrate its 10th Birthday, Its correspondent birthday appeal runs until the summer of 2015, and features a number of high profile concerts and celebrations. Each will help Sage Gateshead to meet the challenge set by Arts Council England and help to ensure that its work in the North East can continue.

In benefitting the Sage Gateshead’s 10th Birthday Appeal, proceeds raised from the performances will ensure that its vital work in the region will continue.

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