B I O G R A P H Y
PHOTOGRAPH © YUSEF BASTAWY
Sarah Lianne Lewis is a Welsh composer of bold and imaginative contemporary classical music that blurs the boundary between acoustic and electronic sound. Described as “quiet and delicate” and “full of imaginative sonorities", her music explores subtle intricacies of texture, engaging audiences in unique soundscapes and sonic atmospheres. She often writes about connection, climate change and the natural world, informed by a female disabled perspective.
Sarah is currently Composer Affiliate with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales; the youngest, and the first ever woman, to hold such a residency with the orchestra. She is also currently one of three UK-based composers awarded a fellowship by the PRS for Music Foundation to represent young outstanding British talent at the Classical:NEXT conference in Spring 2022, and a Royal Philharmonic Society Composer 2021-22 working with the Chorus of the Royal Northern Sinfonia.
Born and raised in Aberystwyth, Sarah was introduced to music at a young age by her family who were keen amateur musicians. She began piano lessons at the age of five, and started learning violin at the age of eight. Throughout both her primary and secondary school years, she was heavily involved with school and county-level vocal & string ensembles, choirs and orchestras, which led to her joining the Three Counties Choir at the age of 17, and the National Youth Choir of Wales at 19 years old. Whilst at secondary school, she began composing for her GCSE and A-Level Music classes, and was encouraged by her school music teacher to enter the Young Composer of Dyfed, which led to her first piece for string quartet premiered in 2006 by the Athena String Quartet as part of the competition.
Sarah attended Cardiff University between 2006 and 2011, first studying a joint degree in Music and History, and then completing a Masters in Composition. Following her studies, she continued her professional development as a composer, attending composition courses such as Aberystwyth Musicfest (2008-10), St Magnus Composers’ Course (2012), Aldeburgh Music’s English Song Project (2013), IRCAM’s ManiFeste Academy (2017), and Musiikin Aika Composers’ Course (2017). She was invited to attend ENOA’s Composing for Voice & Electronics programme in 2013, supported by Aldebugh Music, and was subsequently invited to attend the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence Academie in 2015, and Heidelberg Festival as a Composer Fellow in 2016.
In 2017, she was selected for Quatuor Bozzini’s Composers’ Kitchen through Sound and Music’s Embedded programme, and the work created on the residency was awarded the George Butterworth Prize in 2018. She was awarded the Paul Mealor Award for Young Composers by the Welsh Music Guild in 2021 in recognition of her recent compositional output.
Sarah has worked with a variety of performers, audiences and spaces; from textural orchestral works in concert halls, to contemplative chamber ensemble works in a late-night gin bar, to creating expansive storytelling soundscapes through silent disco headphones under the stars. She has worked with a range of ensembles such as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Quatuor Bozzini, the Royal Opera House, soprano Sarah Maria Sun, Blank Space Ensemble, UPROAR ensemble, and Nevis Ensemble.
Sarah recently worked with the Royal Opera House and librettist Sophia Chapadjiev to create a site-specific micro-opera exploring themes of relationships and travel, and collaborated with storytellers Daniel Morden and Hugh Lupton, composing an electronic soundscape exploring Greek myth in ‘Stars and their Consolations’. A number of her works engage with nature - ‘Blossoms in bloom are also falling blossoms’ (string quartet, 2017), ‘Sunflowers in Autumn’ (chamber ensemble, 2019) and ‘Apart we are not alone’ (solo stringed instrument, 2020) reflect on patterns, memory and birdsong, whilst ‘we watch it burn’ (chamber ensemble and electronics, 2020) and ‘Weathering’ (solo viola, 2020) explore the impact of climate change.
Sarah's music has been commissioned by and performed in several UK and European music festivals including the Cowbridge Music Festival, Heidelberg Festival, CNCM gmem’s ‘Les Musiques’, Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, Archipel Festival, and the Lucerne Festival.
Recordings of her music are available through the Birmingham Record Company and Ty Cerdd records.