Symphony Tacoma held its annual performance of “Messiah” Dec. 14 at St. Charles Borromeo. The well-attended show once again took the audience on the great arc of the operatic story, from the predictions of the coming of the messiah, “a man of sorrows,” through his suffering of physical torment and then his ultimate triumph.
Symphony Tacoma conductor Sarah Ioannides guided the orchestra and choir through the grand arc of the oratorio.
Through it all, Ioannides used her whole frame to channel the music on the page and to conduct it to the musicians of the orchestra. Her body, her hands and her facial expressions were constantly in motion, as she transmitted the music to the musicians who in turn brought it to life with their various skills.
Symphony Tacoma performs their concerts with professional confidence that is duly appreciated by the audience, expressed in multiple standing ovations. It is always a thing of value to experience great music played by great musicians.
On the mind of many in the audience at Saturday night’s Arkansas Symphony Orchestra concert at Little Rock’s Robinson Center Performance Hall: Is Sarah Ioannides’ guest-conducting gig this weekend a tryout for the orchestra’s pending podium vacancy? If so, she could not have had a more auspicious audition.
Music Director Philip Mann advocates using guest conductors, at least one per season, as a way of keeping the orchestra sharp, exposing the musicians to different styles and different techniques and strengthening the musical organization thereby. Ioannides, music director of Symphony Tacoma, certainly did that for this orchestra with some fierce orchestral showpieces, and the players came through with flying colors.
She led, sans score, a gorgeous rendition of Edward Elgar’s “Enigma” Variations, evoking a fine ensemble performance with several starring solo parts. Slightly longish breaks between many of the 14 variations allowed the audience to see each as a finely crafted gem while preserving the overall integrity of the piece.
Ioannides’ style differs markedly from Mann’s; her gestures are expressive and forceful, and there’s no chance the orchestra might misinterpret any of them.
Symphony Tacoma kicked off its new season with an Oct. 20 concert, “Barber and Tchaikovsky,” at the Rialto Theater. The symphony performed three works: the seven minute “Ravish and Mayhem” by contemporary composer Stephanie Berg, Samuel Barber’s “Violin Concerto” and Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s “Symphony No. 5.” Representing three very different eras, each of the three works seemed to have an almost programmatic power of being evocative of images, seasons and moods.
The closing note was followed by sustained applause and a standing ovation, as conductor and musical director Sarah Ioannides took a bow and then had individual musicians and instrumental sections stand to be acknowledged.
In the ornate and spacious interior of Tacoma’s Pantages Theater, on May 12, Symphony Tacoma finished its 2017-18 season in style with a combined choral and symphonic concert that included the powerful vocals of Kelly Cae Hogan, a soprano from the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Music director and conductor of Symphony Tacoma, Sarah Ioannides was like a combination of a dancer and a wizard as she expressively captained the musicians through an evening of sonic wonderment.
The evening opened with a performance of the six movements of Francis Poulenc’s “Gloria,” which brought to bear the full orchestra, the Symphony Tacoma Voices and Hogan’s talents. Decked out in a sparkling, creamy gray gown and with eyes catching the lights as brilliantly as her jeweled ring, Hogan sang the Latin text of “Gloria” with sumptuous verbosity.
The other big discovery was guest conductor Sarah Ioannides, a Curtis Institute graduate and someone who has been working with regional orchestras from El Paso to Tacoma. However gracious her manner, she somehow induced Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia to play on a level that’s been wanting since the departure of now-conductor-laureate Ignat Solzhenitsyn some years ago. The playing in this longish Beethoven program was vigorous, solid, and with an unusually vibrant sonority. Her programming ideas were provocative: She programmed a lot of early Beethoven that’s worth an occasional hearing, such as the Rondo for piano and orchestra, as well as unfinished Beethoven, in an assemblage of his borderline-chaotic Symphony No. 10. Her rendering of that last piece was particularly notable: This is music with no real performance tradition, though you wouldn’t have known that from what was heard on Sunday.
“Mountain and Sea” was not just a concert by Symphony Tacoma — it was a culmination of creativity, education, outreach and advocacy that touched our community and brought people together in a powerful shared experience.
“Fire Mountain” ended in an elongated, disintegrating diminuendo. The violin sections melted into a single thread of sound, and their whisper faded into profound silence. This silence clung on for a long time. It seemed that nobody in the Pantages Theater wanted this moment to end. The silence broke, and the audience launched into an immediate standing ovation.
A review of just the Symphony Tacoma performance cannot do justice to the depth and profound effect the “Fire Mountain” collaboration has had on the Tacoma community. Was it a great concert? Absolutely. Bravo to Symphony Tacoma, Sarah Ioannides, Daniel Ott, and everyone behind the massive and inclusive project. But the larger lesson goes beyond a single concert event. “Fire Mountain” has given us a glimpse at the creative and collaborative potential in Tacoma.
The concert’s anchor, however, was the “New World” symphony — a warhorse, but Ioannides’ first rendition with Symphony Tacoma and fitting the Eastern European program like a cloak. Conducting entirely from memory, Ioannides gave great attention to detail (ends of phrases, brass nuance) and brought some new sounds to this so-familiar work (a slight pause, an acceleration) that made sense of the theme transitions. Yet, she was kind, constantly encouraging the horns and letting the woodwind choruses handle their own cathedral-like passages.
Sundsvall Tidning by Susanne Holmlund
Sarah Ioannides….drew “great sound and authority from the orchestra”
Saxophonist James Carter, music director candidate Sarah Ioannides wow in jazzy program at CCO
…a stunning performance of Francis Poulenc’s rarely heard “Sinfonietta.”
Ioannides stretched boundaries with an extraordinary program that spanned the worlds of classical and jazz.
“Caribbean Rhapsody,” was just one of the highlights of the Chamber Orchestra’s fascinating journey led by Sarah Ioannides.
The highlight of the evening’s first half was Poulenc’s “Sinfonietta.”…Ioannides’ reading of this ravishing gem was fresh and vivid.
It was a wonderful discovery. The conductor made the most of its humorous outbursts and shaped Poulenc’s lovely French melodies beautifully. Best of all, she allowed every orchestral solo to emerge from the texture.
….The orchestra played superbly.
The finale, a stunning dialogue of witty tunes and staccato brass, was given an impressive performance by the orchestra. In an acoustically challenging hall, it was the best-balanced performance of the season.
The concert included….world premiere live performance of “Caribbean Rhapsody” (Carter has recorded it) by Puerto Rico-born composer Roberto Sierra.
As the piece merged into Latin salsa, he picked up his tenor sax for a vibrant, syncopated dialogue with the orchestra. Ioannides was an alert partner, and the orchestra echoed the soloist with split-second precision. Listeners were on their feet.
Darius Milhaud’s “The Creation of the World,”…..the lean orchestration had an arresting timbre, and Ioannides’ leadership was deft and energetic. One could only marvel at its witty syncopations, its wonderful jazz fugue and superb contributions from orchestral soloists.
For a multimedia touch, McCombs, a faculty member at NKU, created an inventive film – fusing his own imagery in the Overture with artworks from Cincinnati Art Museum and even the conductor Ioannides. It was perfectly synched to the music, all the way to “The Kiss.”
The News Tribune by Rosemary Ponnekanti
Tacoma has proven that not only does it have the
chops to do a major contemporary classical
work, it’s got the audience to appreciate it. A
host of forces, from conductor Sarah Ioannides
to the Tacoma Symphony Chorus to soloists,
stage crew and sponsors came together Sunday
afternoon at the Pantages Theater to perform Tan
Dun’s epic “Water Passion.”
Holding all these forces together, along with the
dramatic lighting (red for blood, gold for rebirth)
and amplified sounds was Ioannides, whose
personal connection to Tan Dun made the piece
possible in the first place.
“Debussy, Alvars and Beethoven played with warmth and emotion”
And then came Beethoven’s Symphony no. 6, the “Pastorale”…..From the opening strings to the oboe solo and solid, driving bass in the first movement, through the nostalgic waltz and lyrical cello solo of the second (unusually strong), to the furious storm of the fourth and the triumphant melody of the final movement, the orchestra played well, responding to Ioannides’ attention to dynamic detail. Ioannides combines thoughtful musical logic (the slow-downs before new ideas, the emphasis on passed-on motifs) with passion, encouraging both emotion and courage from her musicians.
The Herald Journal by David Barry
“The Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Sarah Ioannides presented a varied, yet well-integrated program on Nov. 14.”
“With careful control of musical dynamics, Ioannides and the orchestra allowed the soloist (violinist Kristin Lee) to shine through.”
“Elgar’s “Enigma Variations, Op. 36” were exciting, delicate, beautiful, subdued or intense as called for in the score. Small individual solo contributions by clarinet, viola and cello added to a polished and passionate performance. The Philharmonic’s trumpets, trombones, and tuba were especially incisive and well balanced while displaying a wide dynamic range.”
The News Tribune by Rosemary Ponnekanti
Inventive met traditional at the Tacoma Symphony concert Sunday in the Pantages Theater, both between pieces and within them. The orchestra bookended the afternoon program with a United States premiere by Portuguese composer Luis Tinoco that scattered musicians throughout the theater and the highly conventional “Reformation” symphony of Mendelssohn, while violin soloist Caroline Goulding injected the 112-year-old Sibelius concerto with imaginative sound.
The awed audience member who uttered a solo “Whoa!” after the baton dropped summed it up for all of us.
The symphonic season 2015 has marked its imprint. It will always be remembered for the fact that for the first time, two of its concerts have been directed by female conductors; Zenaida Romeu, and in this fourth concert by Sarah Ioannides.
The symphonic poem “Finlandia” by Danish composer Jean Sibelius made a splendid opening for this musical night. The spirit of nationalism, a beloved homeland, oppressed so often, is a cause and an inspiration to Sibelius.
With a large orchestral load the patriotic theme develops. The “Andante sostenuto” is a beautiful evocation of the Finnish landscape. Contrasting, the “Allegro moderato” presents the trumpets and horns in a fanfare, followed by a beautiful melody, which becomes a vibrant, patriotic, pride of an entire people anthem, the end is an apotheosis. With this beautiful, lovely and unnerving symphonic poem, conductor Sarah Ioannides presented her credentials to the Dominican public, receiving a satisfying answer from the orchestra.
Applause for female conductors!!
The audience stands and rewards this special night with prolonged applause and we join them. Again we congratulate the maestro José Antonio Molina, head of the National Symphony, for the opportunity he provides in this season to appraise and enjoy efficient symphony leading women who definitely open up new paths.
The successful participation of female instrumentalists and conductors in the current symphony season has been a wonderful experience, whose quality was reaffirmed on Wednesday night in the concert conducted impressively by Maestra Sarah Ioannides and in the brilliant performance of the talented violinist Kristin Lee in the Carlos Piantini Hall of the National Theatre Eduardo Brito.
The Symphony No.2 in D Major by Sibelius concluded the evening, an impressive work of four movements, whose orchestral performance director Sarah Ioannides was equal to, demonstrating her “unquestionable strength and authority” and great qualities as a conductor, for which she is recognized as one of the most engaging and respected conductors of her generation, qualities that have led to her recent appointment as music director of the Tacoma Symphony Orchestra.
The new Tacoma Symphony pattern of a big, enthusiastic crowd, a robust orchestra and a phenomenal soloist continued at the season opening concert in the Pantages Theater last Saturday, with an all-Russian program that saw German pianist Andreas Boyde romp through Tchaikovsky’s second piano concerto and director Sarah Ioannides lead the ensemble to responsive and sonorous playing.
It’s a good start for Ioannides’ second year at the helm of an orchestra that’s getting its groove in both musical drive and audience popularity. To a nearly sold-out house, the TSO tackled both the rambling landscape of Prokofiev’s “Russian Overture” and the familiar one of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures at an Exhibition” with clear commitment to their new leader, who manages to be both passionate and meticulous.
Many conductors, faced with programming an orchestral pops concert, will pick a theme, throw in some favorite tunes and top the whole thing off with a crowd-pulling soloist to call it good. Not Sarah Ioannides, whose first pops concert with the Tacoma Symphony last Sunday was a tour de force not just of Celtic-inspired music, carefully thought through for variety and scope, but soloists and composers brought together by Ioannides herself, who emceed the entire afternoon complete with a mock-Irish accent. It was an example of the kind of attention to detail the new director is bringing to Tacoma.
Despite selling 500 seats to an extra performance of “The Messiah” in Gig Harbor last Thursday night, the Tacoma Symphony still filled St. Charles Borromeo in Tacoma on the Friday performance – a testament both to Handel’s beloved oratorio and to some curiosity as to how incoming music director Sarah Ioannides would treat it. Both fulfilled expectations in a thoroughly enjoyable performance that was brisk in pace and crisp in tone, with soloists that, despite their mismatch, shone musically.
Part of the success was a program thoughtfully chosen to back O’Boyle’s neo-Romantic “Portraits of Immortal Love” with a rich Impressionist soundscape: Ravel, Debussy and Respighi. Part of it was Ioannides herself, with great attention to detail (ends of phrases, hidden melodies) and innovative staging (women’s chorus singing siren songs from either side of the audience, an army of brass ranged around the balcony).
Then came an intelligent trick from Ioannides: flowing directly on from the Debussy into Respighi’s “The Pines of Rome” to create one lush, mammoth, seven-movement Impressionist symphony.
And if last night’s creativity and brilliance of sound is anything to go by, Ioannides’ five-year term promises good things for the city.
If you did not attend the Valentine’s Day POPS Concert by the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra in Twichell Auditorium at Converse College, you missed a treat for the eyes and ears. The orchestra, conducted by the beautiful and talented Sarah Ioannides, performed selections from Ellington, Gilliland, Gershwin and other popular jazz favorites. Guest artist Jens Lindemann, a celebrated trumpet soloist, was amazing with his artistry. The end of an unforgettable evening was the dueling of the saxophonist from the Spartanburg Jazz Ensemble with the guest trumpet soloist. Don’t miss the Spartanburg Philharmonic’s concert on May 4, the 100-year anniversary of Igor Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” – Joan Gibson, Spartanburg Herald Journal
A nearly full crowd showed up to watch Sarah Ioannides…blaze her way through an audition concert that combined sterling precision with deep nuanced expression. Conducting mostly from memory the British native showed obvious rapport with the orchestra, who were following as one her encouraging but uncompromising direction…her precision and thought-out structure was impressive. Through-out all, Ioannides coaxed and commanded multifaceted nuance with almost balletic grace…she had the Tacoma symphony playing to the hilt, and the standing audience along with her – The News Tribune, Tacoma
The Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra’s Saturday evening concert serves as an example of the organization’s success in the realms of newness and experimentation. Musical Director Sarah Ioannides — a champion of both contemporary composition and women in music — programmed the U.S. premiere of Andrea Tarrodi’s Lucioles (Fireflies), introduced by the composer via a projected video….The video was made at Ioannides’s behest, and accomplished a great deal.
Lucioles shimmered and fluttered, creating a glowing soundscape that was at once serene and lively. Through much of the piece, the strings played a variety of quick rhythmic figures, but the layered parts maintained a buoyant airiness.
(Brahms Violin Concerto) The orchestra accompanied (Michael) Ludwig graciously, filling the diverse corners of placidity and brashness as called for. Ioannides’s weighted timing in the third movement was especially elegant.
(Brahms’ Second Symphony)..the Philharmonic performed the symphony majestically, opening tenderly and stating the first theme with great warmth and presence, as though it had occurred to them just then. The musicians offered superb solos, and in the final movement, a thrilling recapitulation concluding with brilliant trumpet calls.
– Spartanburg Herald Journal
Everyone in the audience…[was] awake and on the edge of their seats. The performance got a standing ovation……In the right hands, though, this music can smolder. Saturday’s concert proved that.
The Mendelssohn (Midsummer Nights Dream Overture) that opened the concert also received more than its usual share of passion. Ioannides and the BPO brought an explosive excitement to the sudden fortes
Ioannides took a good approach to the music (Schubert Symphony No.8)
Once it hit its stride it was a bacchanailian riot. (Borodin Polovtsian Dances) – Buffalo News
The ensemble’s excellent balance was apparent in the delicate melody that followed, giving way to contrapuntal precision. (Mozart Magic Flute Overture)
Sarah Ioannides, now in her eighth year as SPO’s music director, conducts with strength and great authority, clearly relying on a well-established relationship with her orchestra. SPO has matured commendably under her baton and it is a pleasure to hear musicians that know each other well.
In all, the evening displayed the community’s enviable musical talents and great collaborative spirit. – Leah Harrison, For Spartanburg Herald Journal
Tall and slender, [Ioannides] delivered brief and incisive opening remarks, then conducted as gracefully as a dancer, giving a steady beat and clear cues without any showiness…the reading had a rightness about it, with the orchestra playing as if they were just having fun.
Ioannides’ flow brought the work to colorful life…[her program] included two gems not played often enough and the Piazzolla pieces we might never hear in concert again. It’s impressive programming, and it’s obvious her future is very, very bright.
-Chautauquan Daily (Tom DiNardo)
Ioannides chose a well-rounded program that captivated the audience by combining contemporary classical music with treasures from the past. Best of all, she led the orchestra into new and vibrant territory.
The orchestra and its Music Director, Sarah Ioannides, offered compelling proof of the value and importance of an orchestra…..Ioannides and this Philharmonic deserve celebration for their commitment to ensuring that this orchestra is ours, that it reflects and helps bind together the Spartanburg community.
Academy Award winning composer Dario Marianelli rehearses his “Pride & Prejudice Suite” with the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra Saturday morning in the Twichell Auditorium at Converse College. The orchestra is conducted by Sarah Ioannides.
Ioannides brought out genuine warmth in the tone of the RPO with the slightest of gestures… The second half of the program was lush and well executed. Claude Debussy’s “La Mer” was true to its character, perfect in tempo and pacing, and created an emotional tone that captured the melancholy of the seas.
We couldn’t have been more appreciative for the unbridled program, under the peppy direction of maestro Sarah Ioannides. We loved it!
(Gershwin Cuban Overture, Amram Saxophone Concerto Ode to Lord Buckley, Barber Music for a Scene from Shelley and the Finale of Bloch’s America: An Epic Rhapsody for Orchestra).
…Ioannides fronted her musicians with energy and enthusiasm as usual… It was capped off in a high-octane finish that brought a default standing reaction from the audience, including me and my companion.
It was the kind of adventurous program that conductor Sarah Ioannides has brought to the mix since her arrival in 2005 and, one hopes, the kind of thing her successor will continue after the maestra leaves at the end of this season. — Ernest Bloch’s America
A stirring conclusion to an eventful night filled refreshingly unusual and inventive touches. —Doug Pullen, El Paso Times
Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony….was beautifully portrayed. Ioannides gave the orchestra its head and the players poured their hearts into it…Even made it sound fresh and exciting.
Drawing on NASA live-action footage, computer-generated animation and still photos taken mostly by the Hubble Space Telescope, Gutierrez fashioned together a 52.5-minute video (using a performance conducted by Andre Previn as his guide) of this fascinating imagery…was a mesmerizing complement to Holst’s music, the bedrock of modern musical interpretations of the frontier we’ve barely scratched; music, by the way, that was played with great passion and energy by the orchestra…It was a performance and presentation that dripped with the sense of awe and wonder that space, the final frontier, tends to evoke in us all.” — El Paso Times
That Ioannides and the WKO understand each other excellently is apparent. The native Australian, who will give birth to twins in the next weeks, left nothing to chance with her precise conducting technique and gave an tremendous performance. As a violinist, she transfers her fine musical sense to the orchestra producing breathtaking moments. —Heilbronn Stimme
Substitute conductor works out for CSO – Conducting from memory, her gestures are clear, dramatic and controlled with no wasted motions … In this thrilling work, Ms. Ioannides cajoled her forces toward a rousing climax, producing a fitting opener for an exciting […] Ioannides was the ruler of her orchestral domain, eliciting the most sensitive playing. The tight ensemble was most impressive in a work that easily could become fragmented without a sure hand at the musical helm. […] Brahms’ “Symphony No. 4” is a mountaintop of symphonic literature, and Ms. Ioannides directed it with sensitivity, calling forth the great passion that characterizes the work. Each line seemed to be carefully crafted, reflecting her consistently thoughtful and musical approach to an impressive debut. Definitely a serendipitous substitution – Chattanooga Times
Ioannides kept the orchestra pacing at white heat to bring it and Koh to a heart-stopping conclusion. – Betty Ligon El Paso Inc.
The seven-month-pregnant vivacious Ioannides took the well-prepared orchestra through its paces in a gang-buster concert that brought an inspired audience to its feet in an ovation marked with shouts and claps. – Betty Ligon El Paso Inc.
[…] in the final movement that Ioannides whipped the musicians into a whirlwind of rhythms for the Saltarello, a carnival dance full of jumps and leaps. […] One of Ioannides’ talents for designing concert programs is that of including unknown or less frequently performed works to help educate her faithful followers as well as young people. – El Paso Inc.
The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra […] directed with panache by Sarah Ioannides. – Gramophone Magazin
The Royal Philharmonic and its conductor, the young Sarah Ioannides, provide energetic and rapt accompaniment, if that is even the word for these complex works. – Steven Ritter, Audiofile Audition, April 18, 2008
[…] under the light Sarah Ioannides’ baton, directing a very fine Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. – Michael Bailey, All about Jazz, May 23, 2008
In all the works, the excitement of St. John’s style and the colour of the Royal Philharmonic under Sarah Ioannides are nicely captured (in London) by Martha de Francisco of McGill University – Arthur Kaptainis, Montreal Gazette, April 10, 2008
A word should be said here about the fine playing of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of the Anglo-Australian conductor Sarah Ioannides. The group sounds excellent, and the CD itself, issued by St. John’s own Ancalagon label, is a lovely piece of production. – Greg Stepanich, May 4 2008 , Palm Beach Post
What startles and delights me as I’ve been listening to all three albums is the imagination and all-star teams on each project. St. John’s CD with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Sarah Ioannides, is being called World Premieres. – James Reaney, London Free Press, May 29 2008
Friday evening’s program performed by the El Paso Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Maestra Sarah Ioannides was a glorious tribute to 20th-century Soviet music and a masterfully performed concert. – El Paso Times
[…] the conductor’s pacing was flawless. The result was a truly moving experience for the audience […] the overall effect quickly brought the audience to its feet. – El Paso Times
[…] Respighi’s The Pines of Rome concluded the evening, and once again, Ioannides was dazzling as she led the orchestra in an exhilarating performance. – El Paso Times
Maestra Ioannides did a superb job in presenting this masterpiece and what a rare and wonderful treat for El Paso to this innovative work of genius (Tan Dun Water Percussion Concerto). […] there was a groundswell of awe and appreciation for the performance, evidenced by the vigorous ovation. – El Paso Times
Sarah Ioannides set the bar very high once again Saturday for the Spartanbrug Philharmonic Orchesra. Works with an internaitonal flavor by Dane Carl Nielsen, Argentine Adstor Piazzolla and Hungarian Bela Bartok gave rise to the program’s subtitle “Extotic…Argentina to Arabia” […] Maestra Ioannides should be praised for her intelligent and interesting programming. – Spartanburg Herald Journal
Under Ioannides’ gifted and expressive hands, she and the musicians lived up to their billing – El Paso Times
[…] this was a fine performance under the sure hand of conductor Sarah Ioannides. – The Australian
The Perth International Arts Festival’s music centerpiece ‘The Water Passion’ received a standing ovation from the audience in a packed Concert Hall. Post performance, guests met principal singers and congratulated the conductor on an outstanding performance of this unusual modern work. – Western Suburbs Weekly, Perth
Ioannides has a clear technique and is an appealing presence on the podium. The Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra played well for her, twice bringing the good-sized crowd to its feet […] Ioannides inspired lushness in the strings in Kodaly’s ‘Summer Evening’ […] Ioannides’ personal stamp was one of clarity. – Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Enquirer
From the conductor Sarah Ioannides we had beauty and competence. What more can we ask? – Run Branco, Publico (Portugal)
The concert, given by Remix-Ensemble Casa de Música, under the direction of a committed and very convincing conductor Sarah Ioannides, illustrates my previous words […] The prestigious Remix-Ensemble under the excellent direction of Sarah Ioannides, offered truly contemporary music […] ” – Theresa Casculdo, Il Publico (Portugal)