Sarah Lianne Lewis is a Welsh composer, raised in Aberystwyth and now residing in the Vale of Glamorgan. She grew up in a family who loved music, and – until her adult years – didn’t realise how unusual it was for Christmas Day afternoon to be spent with family singing 4-part harmony of Handel’s Messiah. Musical influences growing up ranged from Mussorgsky, Debussy and the more traditional classical music (from her Mum) to Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and other rock greats (from her Dad).
She discovered her love of composing by way of happy accident; having often written small ‘songs’ or melodies as a child alongside the mandatory piano and violin practice, her secondary school music teacher encouraged her to enter a regional composing competition, the Young Composer of Dyfed. At the age of 16, and during her AS-Levels, she experienced her first piece of music performed live by the Athena String Quartet. Whilst she didn’t receive a prize, it ignited in her the excitement of composing.
She changed her initial ideas of becoming an archaeologist, and instead chose to study a joint degree in Music and History at Cardiff University (2006-09), studying piano with Catherine Milledge and composition with Richard Elfyn Jones. In 2008, she entered the Young Composer of Dyfed competition once more, this time winning her age category (18-22 yrs) with her Ave Maria, written for unaccompanied male voices and pre-recorded tape.
It was this that made her decide to study further, completing an MMus in Composition at Cardiff University (2009-11). Since completing her studies, she has worked as a freelance composer and music copyist, working with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Wormshead Top Brass, Southbank Sinfonia, Gemini, and juice vocal ensemble within the first couple of years.
She furthered her musical education by attending summer composition schools including Aberystwyth Musicfest’s Composition Course (2008-10), St Magnus Composers’ Course (2012), ENOA composition course (2013-14), the Jerwood Opera Writing Programme (2014-15), ManiFeste Academie (2017), Musiikin Aika (2017) among others.
Over the last few years she has had works performed in Bangor Music Festival, Heidelberg Festival, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Royaumont Festival, soundfestival, and GMEM Les Musiques.
Nowadays, her music is interested in exploring semi-improvisatory gestures within larger ensembles, and the dialogue that this creates between composer and performer. She also finds inspiration regularly from poetry, which is reflected in many of the titles of her works.
When not composing, she enjoys all manner of creative activities; calligraphy, knitting, baking and gardening, along with some slightly timid DIYing in her home. As a friend remarked once, she enjoys creating something out of raw materials and watching it develop and become something substantially more than what it once was.