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St George’s Day concert will raise funds for research centre


A special concert is being held in the region to help raise vital funds for an important Newcastle University service.

Opera singer Maria George will perform at the Sage Gateshead this week to support the Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre, which carries out pioneering studies into conditions such as Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and other chronic diseases.

Newcastle-born soprano Maria knows first-hand the importance of developing a greater understanding into Alzheimer’s disease as her father, John George, passed away at the age of 81 following a long battle with the illness.

Maria, 47, will join forces with professional Italian pianist Angela Oliviero and violist Dimitri Mattu, delighting their audience with a programme of trios, duos and solos during the St George’s Day concert on Thursday, April 23.

Mother-of-three Maria said: “The idea for such a concert stemmed from my wish to somehow remember my dad, his love for classical music and the illness which ailed him and unfortunately many others - Alzheimer's disease.

“I very much believe in supporting North East charities and I’m delighted to help raise funds for the Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre, as it is a world-leading service that focuses on a condition very close to my heart.

“My dad would have been so proud to know that I’m performing at the Sage Gateshead and it will be emotional to sing in front of a home crowd.”

Maria lives in Sardinia, Italy, where she teaches English. She grew up in Fenham, Newcastle, with her six siblings and parents – her mother, Margaret, 74, still lives in Tyneside and is a volunteer for the Alzheimer’s Society.

In 2010 Maria started studying opera singing in the year that her father died, and one of the last things he heard before he passed away was his daughter’s first duet recoded during a practice session she had in Italy.

John was a keen Newcastle United fan and had avidly followed the team for most of his life. Football legend Charlie Crowe - who played for the team in the 1940s and 1950s - and his daughter Lesley Edmondson launched an appeal which raised £500,000 for a scanner to be based at the Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre. Charlie died of Alzheimer’s disease in 2010 at the age of 85.

After the Charlie Crowe Scanner Appeal had successfully achieved its target within five years, a fundraising campaign was set up for Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre to support the work of leading clinical research and ground-breaking physics studies. 

Professor Roy Taylor is director of Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre and honorary consultant physician at Newcastle Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

He said: “Medical science at the cutting edge requires more than just a Magnetic Resonance Centre at Newcastle University. Major projects attract grant funding, but initial funding is needed for much research which lays the groundwork for projects.

“Fundraising is really important to support our ongoing research on dementia, diabetes and other medical problems. We are most grateful to Maria – and look forward very much to the concert.”

The St George’s Day concert at the Sage Gateshead begins at 7:30pm on Thursday, April 23. Ticket prices are from £14 to £16, of which £2 per ticket goes to the Newcastle Magnetic Resonance Centre.

To buy a ticket contact the Sage Gateshead on 0191 443 4661 or email 

Photo caption: Maria George with Professor Roy Taylor

published on: 20 April 2015