Northumberland violin prodigy returns to play for home audience

World-class violinist Leia Zhu is back playing for a North East audience after spending over a decade dazzling global classical music aficionados.

The 15-year-old from Northumberland is spending the New Year period performing at the Sage Gateshead with the Royal Northern Sinfonia (RNS).

"A lot of the members in RNS, I've know them since I was very young," she said. "It’s just so nice to be able to come back."

Widely considered a "child prodigy", by age 12 Leia had performed at some of the world's most prestigious concert halls, spanning 18 countries.

Four-year-old Leia flaunting her remarkable bow skills

In October, she was appointed Artist-in-Residence with the London Mozart Players - an achievement she hopes will help inspire others to take up (or at least to listen to) classical music.

“One of our main goals and missions is to bring classical music to the younger generation," she continued.

"A lot of my classmates, they don’t necessarily listen to classical music. But after they do and after they see what it’s like, they become very interested."

RNS clarinetist Jessica Lee says she is proud to share a stage with Leia.

“It’s absolutely incredible to see a violinist that young play with such authority and charisma and also a lot of humility," she told ITV Tyne Tees.

"It’s lovely to see and to have the chance to work with somebody at that stage of their career is very exciting."