Sarah Ioannides has gained recognition as one of the most engaging and respected conductors of her generation. As a music director and guest conductor who is committed to collaboration, innovation and education, Sarah Ioannides invigorates programming and inspires audiences. Praised by The New York Times for her “unquestionable strength and authority”, she was invited to be Resident Conductor of Carnegie Hall’s National Youth Orchestra in 2023. While centered on the USA, her conducting career has taken her to six continents.
Born in Australia of Cypriot and Scottish descent, Ms. Ioannides trained in the UK (Oxford University, Guildhall School) and US (Juilliard School and Curtis Institute). Before assuming her role at Symphony Tacoma in 2014, she established a reputation as the dynamic music director of both the El Paso Symphony Orchestra in Texas and the Spartanburg Philharmonic in South Carolina. Her extensive repertoire, which spans four centuries, has been enriched through her work with living composers, not least as the conductor of over 60 world, North American and European premieres.
She has collaborated with such figures as Richard Danielpour, Aaron J Kernis, Zosha Di Castri, Patrice Rushen and Dario Marianelli. In the earlier years of her career she worked with Tan Dun, notably taking charge of the Australian and Greek premieres of his Water Passion After St. Matthew and acting as his assistant conductor with the Gothenburg Symphony, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra and BBC Symphony Orchestra. One of her earliest operatic projects was the European premiere of Stephen Paulus’ The Woodlanders.
Since becoming the first woman to hold a full-time conducting position with the Cincinnati Symphony, Orchestra, she has appeared as a guest conductor with orchestras across North America, among them the Buffalo Philharmonic, Charleston Symphony, Hamilton Philharmonic, Hawai’i Symphony, Louisville Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, Orchestre Symphonique de Québec, and Rochester Philharmonic.
Beyond North America, Ms. Ioannides’ past and current engagements include the Bilbao Symphony, Daejeon Philharmonic, Nordic Chamber Orchestra, Brussels Philharmonic, Konzerthausorchester Berlin, Malmö Symphony, Tonkünstler Orchester (Vienna), Orchestre National de Lyon, Royal Philharmonic (London) and Simón Bolívar Symphony (Caracas).
Making creative use of technology to expand musical horizons, she has led numerous multimedia projects in both the concert hall and the digital environment. These include videos to illustrate Holst’s The Planets, Steve Reich’s The Desert Music and Milhaud’s La Création du Monde. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she produced digital visual materials for Symphony Tacoma, including the ‘digital collage’ Eternal Light inspired by Mozart’s Requiem. This project incorporated clips of music, dance, poetry and visual art created by local students.
One of Ms. Ioannides’ significant achievements in the field of education is as founding artistic director of Cascade Conducting & Composing. Established in 2017, this annual Tacoma-based program, offers scholarships to diverse musicians from the US and around the world. Among the conservatory orchestras she conducts include Yale University, Philadelphia’s Curtis Institute of Music and Bloomington’s Jacobs School of Music.
A sought-after guest speaker, Ms. Ioannides sits on numerous advisory boards and has served on the panel of the National Education Association. In 2022 she spoke at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s Women in Classical Music Symposium. In June 2023, she was a panelist at Bridges to the Future at the conference of the League of American Orchestras.