Tacoma Symphony Orchestra announced today the appointment of Sarah Ioannides as its next music director. The appointment comes after an international search spanning two years and encompassing more than 100 prospects.
Described by The New York Times as a conductor with “unquestionable strength and authority,” Ioannides’ dynamic presence has won praise from audiences and critics internationally with engagements spanning five continents. Her initial contract with the TSO spans a full five seasons, starting in 2014. She is already at work with TSO officials in planning her inaugural season, which is slated to open on Saturday, October 25, 2014.
"We are delighted that Sarah Ioannides has accepted our invitation to join the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra as its new artistic leader,” stated TSO President Dick Ammerman. “Her spectacular debut with the Orchestra last February made a deep and lasting impression on the Board, orchestra and patrons. We are looking forward to a fruitful partnership that will take the TSO to new heights of artistic vibrancy and community engagement.”
"The news of my appointment comes with great happiness to me,” said Ioannides. “The Tacoma Symphony Orchestra found a way into my heart in February 2013. The experience we had making music together was very special that week. Not only did I find great chemistry with the musicians, but also felt at one with the audience that evening, and with the entire community during my weeklong visit. It will be my great honor to work with the Tacoma Symphony in partnership with its superb team of musicians, staff, board, and supporters. I embrace my future in Tacoma with excited anticipation of changing times for orchestras. May we be part of the wave that brings music to more and more people’s hearts from all walks of life, and sustain the gifts of music through engaging live performances over the next decade.”
Ms. Ioannides’ memorable TSO debut included Glinka’s Overture to Russlan and Ludmilla, Rota’s Divertimento Concertante and Shostakovich’s gripping Symphony No. 5. The News Tribune wrote that her performance “combined sterling precision with deep, nuanced expression,” and remarked, “If its first finalist is anything to go by, the Tacoma Symphony won’t have a problem choosing a new artistic director that’ll take them to higher musical places.”
Music director of the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra since 2005, and music director of the El Paso Symphony from 2005-11, Ioannides is a passionate advocate of classical music through innovative projects, community engagement, education, and championing new works. She writes a blog chronicling her efforts and those of others at her website at sarahioannides.net. In a recent example, the Spartanburg Philharmonic held a performance last spring marking the centennial of the premiere of Stravinsky’s groundbreaking Rite of Spring. As part of this, Ioannides initiated a county-wide project in which art students were invited to create an art piece that directly reflected the music. Several hundred captivating student works were exhibited in a juried art show and displayed in public locations throughout the city’s center. An active online presence, Ms. Ioannides maintains an ongoing dialogue with a legion of fans on Facebook and on Twitter.
The Australian-born, British conductor is a versatile musician, whose past studies include violin, viola, piano, and French horn, as well as singing, recorder, saxophone, and guitar. She earned Bachelor of Arts and Master of Music degrees from Oxford University, 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. Ioannides served as Assistant conductor and Production Co-ordinator to Tan Dun for many multimedia performances worldwide.