“Conducting is truly an art” I told one of my students at a recent conducting masterclass. I remember my first experimental appearance in front of the orchestra at Cranleigh, wafting my arms through the air to Elgar’s ‘Serenade for Strings’, wondering how one was supposed to connect all these notes between impulses of the beat as well as inspire from the podium. Long has my search for those answers continued, throughout my ascent to three Music Director positions in the US, as well as guest conducting across continents in a rather unpredictable “business”. My journey in pursuit of the musical dream has certainly had its wealth of valleys and peaks, but when the going was tough I turned always to my heart for direction.
Even before I knew this would be my path I was fully absorbed in every available musical opportunity. My direction only became clear when I began to trust the mentors and teachers around me. One of the most important from school days was Elizabeth Ovenden, both a Computer Science teacher and a professional violinist, who changed my attitude and directed the application of my talent. She guided me from practice room to library study, where I put in the countless hours necessary to join both the National Youth Orchestra and Oxford University as an instrumental scholar. Cranleigh gave me the leeway to follow my passion for music whilst maintaining my academics, training for the person I later became: instrumentalist, conductor and Music Director. It also enabled me to devote countless hours to the French Horn, Violin, Piano, Singing Lessons, Choir and Orchestra practice, even a term in guitar and saxophone lessons. It was a huge awakening to find that I could set what seemed like a far-fetched goal and achieve it with determination and diligence. From this point I began to allow myself to dream and to believe that I could become not just “another conductor” but the ultimate version of myself, the most powerful communicator of music that I could be.
- Sarah Ioannides