Sara Ioannides, conductor
Described by the New York Times as a conductor with "unquestionable strength and authority," Sarah Ioannidesʼ dynamic energy and presence on the podium has won praise from audiences and critics alike for her fresh ideas, original programs and exciting performances. Currently Music Director of the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra since 2005, Ioannides also served as Music Director for the El Paso Symphony Orchestra from 2005-2011. As such she has introduced multi- media productions, commissioned world premieres, developed educational programs and enriched the orchestrasʼ repertoire with numerous first time performances. Her dedication to develop and sustain an enthusiastic audience for classical music has attracted new generations of music lovers bearing a positive impact on the citiesʼ cultural quality.
Maintaining an active guest conducting schedule, her engagements span five continents. Notable recent American engagements include the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, Chattanooga Symphony, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, and Annapolis Symphony. Ioannides has conducted many orchestras in Europe with highlights including the Orchestra Nationale de Lyon, Flemish Radio Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony, Cyprus State Orchestra, Västerås Sinfonietta, Wurttembergisches Kammerorchester Heilbronn and the Nordic Chamber Orchestra. Notable South American and Asian engagements include the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra and Orquesta Sinfonica Municipal de Caracas, and Daejeon Philharmonic. She has also appeared in special engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the New World Symphony and the London Symphony Orchestra.
In 2009 Ioannides was named in the Los Angeles Times as one of six female conductors breaking the glass podium. Noted in the New York Times as part of "a new wave of female conductors in their late 20's through early 40's," Ioannides is the recipient of numerous prizes and scholarships. Highlights include: a Fulbright Scholarship, Women's Conducting Grant from the League of American Orchestras, The Kenneth Tyghe Memorial Prize (Audience Prize) as a finalist in the Leeds Conducting Competition, the Bruno Walter Assistant Conductor Chair; one of two awards presented by the Bruno Walter Foundation in the United States during the 2003-2004 season, the Presser Award from the Curtis Institute and the Janet Watson Prize from Oxford University and the JoAnn Falletta award for the most promising female conductor.
Her recent recording with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and violinist Lara St. John was released to great critical acclaim and reviewed by Gramophone music magazine commenting "directed with panache by Sarah Ioannides". The disc features the Suite from the Red Violin by John Corigliano and two world premiers, including the Australian composer, Matthew Hindson's Violin Concerto.
Ioannides was appointed as Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra from 2002 through 2004 under Music Director Paavo Jarvi, and served as the Music Director of the Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra. Prior to that appointment Ioannides was Assistant Conductor to Academy Award winning composer Tan Dun touring Japan, China, Hong Kong, Russia, France, Germany, Sweden, the USA and the UK. As such, she conducted the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Flemish Radio Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and the Oregon Bach Festival. Sarah Ioannides was the choir director for the RIAS Kammerchor and production coordinator for the world premiere performance of Tan Dun's Water Passion after St. Matthew and at the request of Tan Dun, she conducted his Water Passion in Perth, Australia as the first conductor to perform this work other than the composer.
In the field of opera, Ioannides led the European premiere of Stephen Paulus' The Woodlanders, garnering acclaim from the Times, The Guardian, The Independent and The Telegraph in the UK. Additional production highlights include the works of Mozart, Britten and Offenbach, as well as numerous collaborations with opera companies and festivals worldwide. Opera-Opera depicted Ioannides' lyrical conducting technique as one "with the most persuasive of gentle textures, she coaxed from the performers an extraordinary array of sounds. She was grace personified."
Born in Australia, Ioannides was raised in England. Studying violin, piano and French horn from an early age, she entered Oxford University on an instrumental scholarship earning a Bachelor of Arts and Masters of Music degree. At 19 she was won a conducting audition to be Music Director of Oxford University Philharmonia and shortly after was appointed Music Director of Oxford University Opera. Ioannides then received an Advanced Certificate in Conducting from the Guildhall School of Music in London, a Diploma in Conducting from the Curtis Institute of Music where she studied as a Fulbright scholar, and a Masters in Orchestral Conducting from the Juilliard School of Music, where she served also as Assistant Conductor to her teacher, Otto Werner-Mueller.
Ioannides has been the subject of numerous articles in the national press recently including Southern Living Texas and South Carolina issues, Pink, Working Mother in 2008 and 2011 and Twins magazines. Ioannides lives in Connecticut with her husband and three children, and maintains a base in both South Carolina and England.