By Janelle Gelfand, Cincinnati Business Courier Contributor
There are many others: Sarah Ioannides – the first woman on the conducting staff of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra – leads Symphony Tacoma. Mei-Ann Chen is music director of the Chicago Sinfonietta and conductor laureate of the Memphis Symphony. Jane Glover, an acclaimed Mozart specialist, leads Music of Baroque in Chicago. Susanna Mälkki is principal guest conductor of the Los Angeles Philharmonic and chief conductor of the Helsinki Philharmonic.
By Chrstian Carvajal of The Weekly Volcano
Since before her first album in 1985, Henson-Conant has been broadening her repertoire to include a variety of styles from Irish traditional to highbrow heavy metal. She plays the instrument she commissioned and helped design, an 11-pound sound machine named for her: the CAMAC DHC Light Blue electric harp. The origin of that custom-built instrument is the subject of her recent TED Talk. She earned a Grammy nomination for Best Classical Crossover Album for the soundtrack to her 2006 DVD, Invention & Alchemy.
Her upcoming appearance with Symphony Tacoma falls on Earth Day, so Henson-Conant seized on that opportunity to feature songs about the earth and our place in it. She sees her own role — in this case, in front of an orchestra — as a symbolic bridge between the individual human and her planetary community. She notes the organic construction of many classical instruments, which ties their resonant personalities to the natural world and reminds us yet again of our interdependence within it.
By Christian Carvajal of the Weekly Volcano
Symphony Tacoma will present Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 10” this Sunday alongside Brahms’ Symphony No. 1, which was written in conscious homage to Beethoven’s Ninth, and a Haydn concerto that highlights the talents of principal trumpeter Charles Butler. “This seemed just the right timing and program to feature (Butler),” said Ioannides, “who has had an incredibly wonderful career, formerly also the principal of Seattle Symphony.” Butler, who began his career with the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, is the principal trumpeter for Portland Opera and a substitute for Oregon Ballet Theater and Pacific Northwest Ballet.
“Everybody will take away different meaningful moments,” Ioannides says of an upcoming Tacoma rendition. “I always recommend to a listener, when you hear something for the first time, to lose any sense of expectations and … allow it to take you on a journey into the unknown. … Look for the beauty of contrast. Look for the complexity of polyphonic lines … Follow the peaks and valleys, as you would exploring any new landscape.”
Melinda Bargreen for the Seattle Times
When the Seattle Symphony presents its annual “Messiah” Dec. 15-17, there will be a woman on the podium…
This is a milestone worth considering. The mere fact that female conductors are a comparative rarity around the world, at a point in history when women instrumentalists are commonplace — female orchestra musicians make up 36 percent of the Seattle Symphony — is an indication of the glacial rate of progress for women in ascending the podium.
The Australian-born Ioannides was named by the Los Angeles Times as one of several female conductors cracking the “glass podium” and was termed part of “a new wave of female conductors” by The New York Times.
This busy 45-year-old conductor has divided her time among directorships of Symphony Tacoma and the Spartanburg (North Carolina) Philharmonic, plus the family’s East Coast base (her husband, trombonist Scott Hartman, teaches at Yale University). With a 9-year-old daughter and 7-year-old twins, and regular guest-conducting trips to Europe, life has been hectic.
Ioannides observes that there is “the opportunity now for women to make a lot of progress — even though we still make up only about 7 or 8 percent of orchestral-music directors. There needs to be more. And are we just token females, or are we given the same opportunities and the same pay?”
The Tacoma Weekly
This weekend, Symphony Tacoma hopes to raise awareness of global climate change. Its new program “Classics V: Mountain and Sea” – to be presented 7:30 p.m. Saturday, May 13, at the Pantages Theater – will include performances of Edvard Grieg’s “In the Hall of the Mountain King,” from Henrik Ibsen’s “Peer Gynt,” and Claude Debussy’s “La Mer.”
It will also include the world premier of a new piece called “Fire-Mountain” by Daniel Ott, a New York-based composer and university professor (The Juilliard School, Fordham University) with strong ties to the area.
“He’s got a really thoughtful, unique and a very, very interesting, fascinating style of composition. Symphony Tacoma Musical Director Sarah Ioannides said. “The point of this piece is to bring awareness to environmental changes that our planet is enduring at this time and to really bring thought and reverence to the natural beauty of places like Mount Rainier.”
Rosemary Ponnekanti for the Tacoma News Tribune
Around 38 orchestra students from Lincoln High School — most of whom had never been up Mount Rainier — were joined by a climatologist, a composer, a conductor, park rangers and a symphony violinist, who is their orchestra teacher. The goal? To discover how classical music can help save our environment in the form of a brand-new piece premiering Saturday with Symphony Tacoma!
“The goal is to express the challenges of global warming and what needs to be done,” she says. “If there were a mass movement (in music) to express our feelings on this, more people would become aware that it’s an important subject.”
“ ‘Fire Mountain’ is calling to attention the dangers of climate change,” says Daniel Ott, the composer in the snowshoeing group, of the choral symphonic work that Symphony Tacoma commissioned him to write for the concert “Mountain and Sea.”
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.