Described by the New York Times as a conductor with “unquestionable strength and authority” and as a conductor with “magic”, Sarah Ioannides’ dynamic presence on the podium has won praise from audience and critics internationally. Named by the Los Angeles Times as “one of six female conductors breaking the glass podium”, Sarah was included as one of the leading female conductors worldwide by Norman Lebrecht’s “Woman Conductors: The Power List.”
Awarded the JoAnn Falletta award for the most promising female conductor, under her leadership, both Symphony Tacoma and Spartanburg Philharmonic received Art Work grants from the National Endowment for the Arts for commissioning, collaborations and performance of new works, innovative presentation strategies, and community engagement. Passionate about engaging the community, she received three proclamations for “Sarah Ioannides’ Day” from both the County and the City of Spartanburg and the city of Tacoma for community involvement.
December 2019 South Sound Magazine
Saturday’s performance by George Li and Symphony Tacoma was one of the most special and memorable music events in our local arts history. Live music offers an amazing opportunity for people to connect. Sometimes across time and cultures the performing arts provide shared experiences that change us. Top to bottom – this Symphony Tacoma concert was exciting, polished, poetic, and touching.
Under conductor Sarah Ioannides’ leadership, Symphony Tacoma complimented Li’s artistry with polish and inspiration. The admiration between the orchestra and soloist was visible – players smiling and looking at Li throughout the concerto. It was a treat to see the veil of professional stoicism lift, and to witness Ioannides, Li, and the orchestral musicians’ electric vibe that fueled their performance. This performance had the personal communication of chamber music through the large orchestra medium. The commitment to musical teamwork was most obvious in the magical woodwinds and horn solos, and the extreme soft passages with strings. Ioannides has cultivated a special ensemble for our community.
November 2019 South Sound Magazine
Symphony Tacoma’s Romeo and Juliet Collaboration = Big Win for Community
On October 19th, Sarah Ioannides and Symphony Tacoma performed music from Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet. This performance was a fantastic experience that blended drama and orchestra into a touching and profound live performance experience… a modern, creative staging for this music and acting—impressive and relevant work from our local arts community.
This production was all about the orchestra music, and the acting provided reference to the story the music was telling. The flow of the performance felt natural, and Prokofiev’s score was always the center of attention. Believable excitement, nervousness, passion and romance all delivered through Prokofiev’s music, Symphony Tacoma’s artistry, and words from Shakespeare. Under Ioannides’ skilled leadership, this orchestra is playing at a very high level.
This Symphony Tacoma concert was a testament to the creativity and collaboration that our community thrives on. The audience received the performance with enthusiastic applause and admiration. The teamwork and creativity of Sarah Ioannides, School of the Arts, and the Symphony Tacoma musicians has provided a unique and profound shared experience in the performing arts.
MAY 2019 South Sound Magazine
Symphony Tacoma Rises to Beethoven’s Sun
Commissioning new work has become part of the Tacoma orchestra’s identity since Ioannides, a British conductor hailed as done of the best on Lebrecht’s “Women Conductors: The Power List,” took the helm nearly five years ago.
Symphony Tacoma, under Ioannides’ assured baton, rose to Beethoven’s sun with energy, passion and a full, rich sound that filled the sold-out theater. In the first movement, firm brass chords resonated against the renovated theater’s new shell, violins crisp and timpani exciting, with Ioannides guiding the music like a ship’s captain over stormy waves…Ioannides wove through the tempo changes with precision and grace, and the orchestra followed flawlessly.
November 2018. Tacoma Weekly
Symphony Tacoma is fantastic with ‘Symphonie Fantastique’
… a mesmerizing performance…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.
November, 2017. Philadelphia Enquirer. David Patrick Stearns:
Chamber Orchestra meets Beethoven in a wild-card concert
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.
May, 2017. Tacoma Tribune :
Ioannides and Ott inspire with premier performance of ‘Fire Mountain’
“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.” ~John Falskow.
August 2016. Cincinnati Enquirer
Music director candidate Sarah Ioannides wow in jazzy program
…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.”
March 2016. The News Tribune –
Tacoma Symphony luxuriates in Rialto sound, romantic program
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.
March 2016. The News Tribune –
Tacoma Symphony luxuriates in Rialto sound, romantic program
“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.
Dec 2015. The News Tribune –
Tacoma Symphony balances inventive, tradition; violinist Caroline Goulding stands out
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.
October 2015. Diario Hispaniola –
Conductor Sarah Ioannides and violinist Kristin Lee star in successful symphony concert
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.
October 2015. Hoy –
The magic of a violin enwraps the National Theater
Hoy by Carmen Heredia de Guerrero
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…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.
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.
January 2010. Chattanooga Times
Ioannides cajoled her forces toward a rousing climax
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