Sarah Ioannides


Sarah Ioannides

Assistant conductor for the legendary teacher, Otto-Werner Mueller, Sarah Ioannides studied under him for four years while attending the Juilliard School of Music and The Curtis Institute as a Fulbright Scholar. She studied regularly with George Hurst, Christopher Seaman, and in St. Petersburg, Russia through the Ilya Musin School of Technique, attending numerous masterclasses of conducting including under Pierre Boulez with the London Symphony Orchestra. Later, she gained professional experience while the assistant conductor to Paavo Jarvi and Tan Dun taking her perspectives deeper into a diverse terrain of conducting styles, multimedia and production design and developing her meticulous score study and analysis.

She began her teaching career coaching chamber music in the Junior Department of the Guildhall School of Music and teaching private lessons in violin, French horn and piano. She emphasizes the importance of being an accomplished instrumentalist as a critical part of her conducting make-up. As a teacher, she held a three-year position as music professor at Swarthmore College of Music teaching history, orchestration, ear training, and score reading. She later became Music Director of the Cincinnati Youth Orchestra. Her work with young musicians has led to teaching at all levels, and she regularly supports school programs and teachers, youth orchestra, and young person’s competitions.

Professionally she continues to be in demand on the international conducting scene with orchestras, choirs and opera. Listed one of the top twenty female conductors worldwide by Lebrecht’s “Woman Conductors: The Power List” in 2016, Sarah Ioannides has been named by the Los Angeles Times as “one of six female conductors breaking the glass podium” and noted as part of “a new wave of female conductors in their late 20’s through early 40’s” by the New York Times. Ioannides was awarded the JoAnn Falletta award for the most promising female conductor. She serves on numerous advisory boards, as a competition adjudicator, public speaker, and educator, and has been a panelist for the National Endowment of the Arts. In 2015, 2016, and 2017 she received proclamations for Sarah Ioannides’ Day from the county and city of Spartanburg and the city of Tacoma.

Sarah Ioannides has gained recognition as one of the most inspiring and creative conductors of her generation. Now in her ninth season as Music Director of Symphony Tacoma, Sarah is active as a guest conductor internationally she has worked with orchestras such as the Tonkünstler, Orchestre Nationale de Lyon, Bilbao Symphony Orchestra, and Seattle Symphony, she has recorded world premieres with the Royal Philharmonic and most recently with the Malmö Symphony and Nordic Chamber Orchestra with a CD of music by Marie Samuelsson released in 2019.

Symphony Tacoma Music Director Sarah Ioannides leads the orchestra through a rehearsal at the Pantages Theater. (Courtney Pedroza / The Seattle Times)

Seattle Times

Conducting’s glass podium: Female music directors are still rare, but the Northwest has nurtured some

"The mere fact that female conductors are a comparative rarity around the world, at a point in history when women instrumentalists are commonplace, is an indication of the glacial rate of progress for women in ascending the podium."



  • Juilliard School of Music, New York, Masters of Music in Orchestral Conducting

  • Assistant Conductor to Otto-Werner Mueller

  • Curtis Institute of Music, Philadelphia Diploma in Conducting,

  • Presser Award & Friends of Curtis Fellowship

  • Guildhall School of Music, London Advanced Certificate in Conducting

  • Awarded the Conducting Prize

  • Oxford University Master of Arts & Bachelor of Arts in Music,

  • Instrumental Scholar (Violin)


  • 2014 – present SYMPHONY TACOMA, WA Music Director

  • 2005-2017 SPARTANBURG PHILHARMONIC, SC Music Director

  • 2005-2011 EL PASO SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, TX Music Director

  • 2004-2005 DESSOFF CHOIRS, New York, NY Interim Music Director

  • 2002-2004 CINCINNATI SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA, Assistant Conductor

  • Cover Conductor with performances on subscription/summer/education series


  • 1999-2003 To COMPOSER/CONDUCTOR, TAN DUN Assistant Conductor

Cover Conductor, Orchestra Preparation, Choir Director & Production Coordinator for multimedia premieres, festivals and performances in Japan, China, Hong Kong, Russia, France, Germany, Sweden, USA and UK.

Guest Conductor Engagements

Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (UK), Tonkünstler Orchestra (Austria) Orchestre Nationale de Lyon (France), Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Flemish Radio Orchestra (Belgium), Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Hawai’i Symphony Orchestra, Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, North Carolina Symphony, Tacoma Symphony, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, New West Symphony, Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, Annapolis Symphony, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra (Sweden), Municipal Orchestra of Caracas, New World Symphony, New Haven Symphony, Daejeon Philharmonic (Korea), Nordic Chamber Orchestra (Sweden), Västerås Sinfornietta (Sweden), Metamorphosis Festival (Athens, Greece), Swedish Wind Ensemble, Annapolis Symphony, Naumburg Orchestra, Brevard Music Center, Millennium Chamber Ensemble, Perth International Festival (Australia), Cyprus State Orchestra, REMIX ensemble (Portugal), Perth International Festival (Australia), Naumburg Orchestra (NYC), Cyprus State Orchestra, Freiburg Philharmonic Orchestra, Rheinische Philharmonie, Wuttenbergisches Kammerorchester (Germany), Translyvannian State Philharmonic (Cluj), National Symphony Orchestra of Colombia, National Symphony of the Dominican Republic, the Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra (Venezuela), and the South African National Youth Orchestra.

Special Engagements

  • London Symphony Orchestra

  • Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra (Project Synergy)

  • BBC Singers (Concert/Radio Broadcast)

  • Curtis Opera Theatre

  • British Youth Opera

Assistant Conductor/Cover Conductor

BBC Symphony Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, BBC Concerts Orchestra, Orchestra Nationale de Lyon, Hong Kong Philharmonic, Dresden Sinfoniker, London Sinfonietta, BBC Concerts Orchestra, White Nights Festival (Russia), Spoleto Festival (Italy),

Brooklyn Academy of Music, Manilva Opera Festival (Spain), Stuttgart Bachakademie.


RIAS Kammerchor, SüdWest Rundfunk Vokalensemble, Oregon Bach Festival, London Voices, Opera Company of Philadelphia, Brooklyn Academy of Music, Curtis Opera Theatre, Tacoma Opera (Carmen production 2018)

Training Young Musicians

Curtis Institute of Music (Guest Conductor & Teaching Conducting Masterclasses 2016), Yale Philharmonia (Guest Conductor 2015), Chicago College of Performing Arts, Roosevelt University (Guest Conductor 2014), Brevard Music Festival (Guest Conductor 2014), Simon Bolivar Youth Orchestra (Guest Conductor), Jacobs School of Music, Indiana University (Guest Conductor), Oxford University (Guest Conductor), Cincinnati Symphony Youth Orchestra (Music Director 2002-2004), Swarthmore College (Music Director & Associate in Performance Faculty), Guildhall School of Music & Drama, London (faculty, teacher, coaching chamber music)

Awards & Prizes

  • League of American Orchestras, Women’s Conducting Grant

  • JoAnn Falletta Award, Womens Philharmonic/LOA

  • Lorin Maazel Conducting Competition, Australasian Finalist

  • Bruno Walter Assistant Conductor Chair, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra

  • Fulbright Scholarship & Fulbright Travel Awards

  • The Leeds Conducting Competition, Kenneth Tyghe Memorial Prize/Audience Prize

  • Presser Award, Curtis Institute of Music for study in St. Petersburg

  • Wingate Scholarship, United Kingdom to study conducting

  • Alice Horsmann Traveling Fellowship & Janet Watson Prize, Oxford University

  • National Endowment of the Arts- ArtWorks Grant Recipient 2014- The Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra Awarded $20,000 to help fund a collaboration with Dame Evelyn Glennie. Additionally, the project included a master class with high school and college students, Glennie’s signature lecture-demonstration, “Dialogue with a Difference,” as well as a workshop with Glennie and music students from the South Carolina School for the Deaf and the Blind.

  • National Endowment of the Arts award 2016 – Symphony Tacoma

  • Awarded $10,000 to commission and premiere of a new symphonic poem written in homage to Mount Rainier by Puyallup native Daniel Ott, who grew up in Puyallup and teaches composition at The Juilliard School. The work for chorus and orchestra is part of the National Park Service centennial for environmental awareness and is part of the season’s culminating concert on May 13, 2017.

Panelist & Adjudicator

  • 2017 & 18– King Fm Young Artist Award, Judge

  • 2017 – Carnegie Hall, Link Up Program, Panelist

  • 2017 – World Culture Summit Abu Dhabi, participant

  • 2015 – Community Pride & Task force Committee, Spartanburg – Way to Wellville

  • 2013 & 2014 – National Endowment of the Arts, Review panelist for Music Awards

  • 2013 – Brevard Music Center, Adjudicator for Concerto Competitions


Ioannides has also appeared as guest conductor with many return engagements with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra, Louisville Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra, Flemish Radio Orchestra, Chautauqua Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, Toledo Symphony Orchestra, Hawai’i Symphony, Tulsa Symphony Orchestra, Tacoma Opera, Curtis Opera Studio, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, North Carolina Symphony, Santa Rosa Symphony, Arkansas Symphony, Charleston Symphony Orchestra, New West Symphony, Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, Annapolis Symphony, Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, New Haven Symphony, Daejeon Philharmonic, Sweden: Nordic Chamber Orchestra, Västerås Sinfonietta, Malmö Symphony Orchestra, Naumburg Orchestra, Cyprus State Orchestra, REMIX ensemble, Perth International Festival, Wuttenbergisches Kammerorchester.

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.”

As founding Artistic Director of Cascade Conducting and Composing, an international masterclass held in partnership with Symphony Tacoma, she coaches conductors regularly. Sarah was on the conducting faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music’s Young Artists Summer Program and is now the conducting coach for Curtis Mentor Network. As an arts advocate, Ms. Ioannides is active an adjudicator, panelist, public speaker, and educator and has served both as a delegate at the World Culture Summit in Abu Dhabi and as National Endowment for the Arts Panelist for the U.S. Government.

Sarah is the producer of the Symphony Tacoma’s Encore Series, creating over twenty music videos for digital release, as well as curator of the Interludes Series, a series of chamber music online performances. As host and artistic director for the Saturday Night Casual Conversations, she explores the artistry behind the musical landscape in addition to stimulating conversations with the orchestra’s musicians, soloists, and composers. Each of these programs was designed to reconnect the community through the time of social distancing and have expanded audiences, engaged new collaborative partners, presented new performances and re-lived past performances. All available on Symphony Tacoma’s YouTube Channel.

Previously, Sarah was Music Director of the El Paso Symphony, the Spartanburg Philharmonic Orchestra, and Assistant Conductor of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. Under her leadership, both the Symphony Tacoma and the Spartanburg Philharmonic received ArtWork grants from the National Endowment for the Arts to commission, collaborate, and perform new works with innovative presentation strategies and community engagement.

Sarah has directed and commissioned films for live orchestral multimedia performances including new films for Holst’s The Planets and Steve Reich’s The Desert Music. In 2016, she produced a new multimedia art film to accompany Milhaud’s Creation du Monde, directed by Brad McCombs, using artworks selected from the Cincinnati Art Museum, international collections and her own paintings, which was shown in performance at Cincinnati’s Summermusik Festival. In a collaboration with the National Parks Association, Tacoma’s Museum of Glass and Hilltop Artists, project “Fire-Mountain” gave birth to a double premiere under her direction with music by Daniel Ott and film by Derek Klein. 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.

A zealous supporter of new music and multimedia artistic collaborations, Sarah has conducted over fifty premieres. As collaborator and assistant to composer/conductor Tan Dun she conducted the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Concert Orchestra, the Flemish Radio Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra, London Sinfonietta and the Oregon Bach Festival. She was the first conductor chosen by him to conduct Tan Dun’s Water Passion After St. Matthew at the Perth International Arts Festival and the Metamorphosis Festival in Athens in 2016, Sarah has led many operas and conducted at festivals worldwide, including the European premiere of Stephen Paulus’ The Woodlanders in Oxford, British Youth Opera, Curtis Opera Theatre, and Spoleto Festival. Sarah was guest Music Director of the Dessoff Choirs, and Music Director of Oxford University’s Philharmonia and Opera.

Sarah’s musical career began early as a violinist in the National Youth Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra of Great Britain and a horn player in the Surrey County Youth Orchestra. Admitted as an instrumental scholar on violin, Sarah was granted both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Oxford University. Furthering her education at The Guildhall School of Music and Drama, she received her Advanced Certificate in Conducting. As a Fulbright Scholar, Sarah pursued further training with Otto-Werner Mueller at The Curtis Institute of Music earning a Diploma in Conducting and at The Juilliard School with a Master of Music degree in Orchestral Conducting.