Archive: News | Reviews

Review: Symphony Tacoma finishes season with an operatic flourish

By Dave Davison of Tacoma Weekly News


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.


Read more!

Chamber Orchestra meets Beethoven in a wild-card concert

The Inquirer by David Patrick Stearns


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.


Read more!

Review: Ioannides and Ott inspire with premier performance of ‘Fire Mountain’

By John Falskow for The News Tribune


“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.


Read more!

Gluzman conquers Glazunov; Symphony Tacoma works Dvoràk

PugetSoundTacoma News Tribune by Rosemary Ponnekanti


Virtuosity and familiarity made a winning combination in the Pantages Theater Saturday night, as Symphony Tacoma opened the new season with its first concert under a new name.


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.



Read more!

Saxophone sensation heats up Chamber Orchestra

636079800823548973-Carter-and-SarahCincinnati Enquirer by Janelle Gelfand

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.”


Read more!

Review: ‘Water Passion’ proves the Tacoma Symphony’s musical chops and vitality

TSO 102514

TSO 102514

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.


Read more!

Review: Tacoma Symphony luxuriates in Rialto sound, romantic program

Muzzolini 10The News Tribune by Rosemary Ponnekanti


“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.


Read more!

Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra presents exciting concert

Enigmatic Evolution

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.”


Read more!

Tacoma Symphony balances inventive, tradition; violinist Caroline Goulding stands out

TSO 102514

TSO 102514

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.


Read more!