Sarah Ioannides

A Message from the Music Director:

Innovative.  Vibrant.  Engaging.  Everywhere!

Our new ten-year Vision paints a picture of what your Symphony Tacoma aspires to become in the
hearts and lives of the community.  We strive for programs that delight an ever-expanding and diverse audience, and that engage and transform both performers and listeners.

May the 2016-2017 Season move us far along in realizing this Vision!  In planning these concerts, I have chosen guest artists who will uplift and inspire us, and selected music to provide just the right balance between the unusual and striking, the familiar and cherished.

It is our hope that these concerts captivate, relax, inspire, stretch, intrigue and satisfy you—from start to finish!


“You have definitely made the right choice in a music director!” “I will remember tonight for the rest of my life!” “Sarah was beyond my greatest hope!” And, “That was the BEST concert I have ever been to.” 

Ioannides began performing as a violinist in the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain in the UK and horn player in the Surrey County Youth Orchestra from the age of 11. With Masters degrees from Oxford University (Instrumental Scholar) and the Juilliard School of Music (Bruno Walter Award), Ioannides studied conducting, violin, piano, singing and French Horn. A recipient of numerous prizes and awards, following studies at the Guildhall School of Music, she came to the United States as a Fulbright Scholar attending the Curtis Institute of Music. Serving on numerous advisory boards, as a competition adjudicator, and public speaker, she has served as panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts for the US Government.

“Unquestionable strength and authority.” 

Described by The New York Times as a conductor with “unquestionable strength and authority,” Sarah Ioannides’ dynamic presence has won praise from audience and critics alike internationally with engagements spanning five continents. Music Director of Symphony Tacoma and the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, she is quickly gaining recognition as one of the most active, engaging and innovative conductors of her generation.

One of the top 20 female conductors worldwide, according to Lebrecht’s 2016 “Woman Conductors: The Power List,” she has also been named in the Los Angeles Times as “one of six female conductors breaking the glass podium” and noted in The New York Times as part of a new wave of female conductors in their late 20s through early 40s.” Ioannides was awarded the JoAnn Falletta award for the most promising female conductor.

As a guest conductor she has appeared internationally with the Tonkünstler Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra Nationale de Lyon, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, Flemish Radio Orchestra, National Symphony of Colombia, Daejeon Philharmonic, Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Wuttenbergisches Kammerorchester, and the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra.

“One of six female conductors breaking the glass podium.” 

Ioannides has also led orchestras extensively in the United States including the Buffalo and Rochester Philharmonics and the orchestras of Chattanooga, Charleston, Louisville, New Haven, New West, North Carolina, Toledo and Tulsa. A protégé of the late Otto­Werner Mueller, Ioannides has appeared in special engagements with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, New World Symphony and the London Symphony Orchestra working with Pierre Boulez and Esa­Pekka Salonen.

Formerly the Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Ioannides was the first woman appointed to its full-time conducting staff.  She also held appointments as Music Director of the El Paso Symphony, guest Music Director of the Dessoff Choirs, and Music Director of Oxford University. Her extensive and diverse experience in orchestral, choral, operatic, new works and multimedia performance is equal to her passion to support learning and music education.  She continues to coach orchestra at high-level conservatories such as Yale University, Curtis Institute, and the Chicago College of Performing Arts.

Over 40 World, North American and European premieres. 

A zealous supporter of living composers, Ioannides has conducted over 40 World, North American and European premieres. Under her leadership, Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra and Symphony Tacoma have received ArtWorks grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, both for creativity in collaborations, commissioning and community involved projects.  She has both commissioned and directed films for live orchestral multimedia performances, including Holst’s The Planets and Steve Reich’s The Desert Music.  During the summer of 2016 she was producer and advisor for a new multimedia art film to accompany Darius Milhaud’s Creation du Monde, directed by Brad McCombs, using artwork selected from the Cincinnati Art Museum as well as her own personal paintings and collections internationally; the multimedia performance was premiered at Cincinnati’s Summermusik Festival 2016.

“Grace personified … ” 

Ioannides has collaborated regularly with composer/conductor Tan Dun, serving as his Assistant Conductor & Production Coordinator between 1999 and 2003. 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.  In 2005, she was selected by Tan Dun to conduct his Water Passion After St. Matthew at the Perth International Arts Festival. Opera­Opera 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.” Ioannides has led many operas and conducted festivals worldwide, including the European premiere of Stephen Paulus’ The Woodlanders, British Youth Opera, Curtis Opera Theatre, Spoleto Festival and Philadelphia Opera Company, Perth International Festival.


Visit Sarah Ioannides’ website