By Dan Armonaitis
This weekend marks the end of an era for the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and it’s got me feeling a little nostalgic.
Sarah Ioannides, who will perform her final concert as music director and conductor of the SPO Saturday night at Twichell Auditorium, has been a joy to cover these last few years and I’ll miss chatting with her on a somewhat regular basis.
One of the cool things about Ioannides’ 12-year tenure as SPO music director is the tremendous amount of internationally-renowned classical musicians she’s been able to bring to Spartanburg. I had the opportunity to speak with many of them and have vivid memories of some of those conversations.
But perhaps the best words about Ioannides came from Canadian trumpeter Jens Lindemann, who described her as “a fantastic conductor — very personable both with the musicians and the audience.”
By Dan Armonaitis for Spartanburg Magazine
In her final season with the SPO, Ioannides, who was born in Australia and raised in the U.K., has been honored twice with proclamations recognizing her achievements in Spartanburg. The city named Oct. 15, 2016, (the night of the orchestra’s season-opening concert) Sarah Ioannides Day and the county did the same at the most recent “Classics Series” concert on Feb. 4.
“Music is about recognizing the beauty, and sometimes it’s about recognizing the sadness,” Ioannides said. “It’s about being able to reflect on humanity, on our society, on nature, (and) on the world. That’s the greater message that music is able to give. It’s able to reflect on life in a way that no other art can, and it’s so powerful.”
“She raised the bar for musicianship in our orchestra and that legacy will continue,” Dunleavy said. “I’m excited for her to move on to a bigger symphony, which she already has with Tacoma, and I’m sure she’s got plans to do some other things as well. I think her future is limitless .”
But no matter where the future takes her, Ioannides promises that Spartanburg will remain close to her heart.
Steve Wong for Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra
During her tenure with the orchestra, Sarah conducted over 75 concerts, offering Spartanburg residents an opportunity to hear dozens of world-class guest artists and over a hundred classical masterworks. At the same time, her work with contemporary composers has expanded the repertoire for the symphony, developing the orchestral canon for future generations.
Guest composers include internationally recognized artists Dario Marianelli, Kati Agócs, and Sean O’Boyle. In 2011, the SPO gave the premiere performance of Falling Man by Kenneth Fuchs – a piece that went on to receive national acclaim and was presented by The Juilliard School and Steinway & Sons at the “National September 11 Memorial & Museum” in 2016.
Sarah’s inventive approach struck upon a formula that not only local concertgoers found engaging, but it placed Spartanburg on the world’s music map as a community that is grounded, innovative, and progressive.
Her signature style of presenting well-known masterpieces alongside new works of classical music helped the SPO to develop an impressive, distinct sound, emerging as one of the most highly esteemed orchestras in the region.
Tacoma News Tribune by Rosemary Ponnekanti
The first World Culture Summit is taking place this week in Abu Dhabi, and among the 300
participants from 80 countries is Sarah Ioannides, music director of Symphony Tacoma.
Ioannides is the only female conductor of a professional orchestra in the United States invited to the summit hosted by the United Arab Emirates. The goal of the summit is bringing diverse cultural leaders together to brainstorm how to solve world challenges through the arts.
“I am finding the summit extremely positive and highly engaging and stimulating thus far,”
said Ioannides via email this week. “There are many powerful and unique stories of artists and cultures being shared, healthy discussions about the state of the arts, and today we began to formulate the questions we want to ask and to resolve as a group … to tackle key issues our world now faces.”