Young stars are selected for top fame academy

YOUNG Morpeth musicians are on the path to stardom after qualifying for world-class tuition.

Eighteen-year-old Rebecca Megwa, who is in her final year at King Edward VI School, successfully auditioned for this year’s Samling Academy.

And joining her will be Alex Banfield, also from the town, who took part in last year’s academy and as a result decided to pursue a career as a classical singer.

He is now studying at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, and earlier this year took the title role in Samling Academy Opera’s production of Albert Herring.

The talented pair will be put through an intensive series of workshops, masterclasses and rehearsals by some of the best in the business, before taking to the stage of the Sage Gateshead on Sunday for the Samling Academy Concert.

The academy is led by Music Director Caroline Dowdle, who works with young artists at the Royal Opera House and leads the vocal academy at Verbier Festival in Switzerland.

Rising star of stage and screen Alex Hassell, who is about to play Prince Hal in Henry IV Part I and Part II and the title role of Henry V for the Royal Shakespeare Company, joins the team to share his insights on stagecraft and performance.

The programme is delivered in partnership with Newcastle and Durham universities and Sage Gateshead Weekend School to identify youngsters aged 14 to 23 with potential and help them to develop their skills.

The concert on Sunday includes songs, arias and ensembles by Bach, Purcell and Mascagni.

Tickets cost £7 and are available on 0191 443 4661, or online at