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Sarah Leonard

“Lachenmann’s wonderful piece Got Lost is a showcase for composer and performers alike – at turns percussive, sensuous … even amusing. Soprano Sarah Leonard and pianist Rolf Hind were in their element as they demonstrated exemplary skill in ensemble and articulation, and unrivalled sensitivity to timbral nuance. This riveting concert was an astounding display of technique and musicality that will stand (for me at least) as one of the musical highlights of the last decade.”

Dr. Lee Tsang, Hull University

Sarah Leonard is one of Britain's most respected and versatile sopranos. She was born in Winchester and studied at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London.  She has a wide repertoire with a particular interest in contemporary music and has appeared throughout the world in major concert halls, opera houses and festivals. She has worked closely with many leading composers including Birtwistle, Boulez, Dusapin, Ferneyhough, Harle, Harvey, Huber, Lachenmann, Ligeti, Nyman and Sciarrino and premiered numerous works.

Her 30-plus recordings include a recital series of English Song with Malcolm Martineau, works by Varèse with Chailly and the Concertgebouw Orchestra and Ligeti’s Aventures, Nouvelle Aventures with the Schoenberg Ensemble. Recent recordings include In Praise of Dreams by Joe Cutler, with pianist Stephen Gutman, for NMC, and Throat by John Purser, for voice, carnyx and percussion with John Kenny and Joby Burgess. Releases in 2016/17 include a CD of The Songs of Betty Roe, and with Gemini Ensemble works by David Lumsdaine and Nicola Lefanu, for Metier.

She has worked with many leading conductors including Pierre Boulez in Webern’s Cantatas 1 & 2 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and his Improvisations sur Mallarmé, with the Ensemble Intercontemporain. With Michael Tilson Thomas she has performed Debussy’s Le Martyre de Saint Sebastien, San Francisco Symphony, and Krenek’s Die Nachtigall, London Symphony Orchestra, and with Peter Eötvös Ligeti’s Requiem in Holland and London.

In the field of opera her appearances include Dr. Faustus by Giacomo Manzoni at La Scala Milan, Al Gran sole Carico d’Amore Luigi Nono at Hamburg State Opera, Berio’s Laborintus II at the Teatro Carlo Felice, Genova, What Next? by Elliott Carter, Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, To Be Sung by Pascal Dusapin, Théàtre des Amandiers, Paris, Das Mädchen mit den Schwefelholzern by Helmut Lachenmann in Hamburg, Stuttgart, Paris and Vienna. Contemporary Music Theatre appearances include Dirty Tricks by Paul Barker, London, Down By the Greenwood Side, Harrison Birtwistle, London, Angel Magick by John Harle at the Salisbury Festival and the BBC Proms and Krazy Kat by Joanna Lee at the Tête a Tête Opera Festival.

For many years Sarah toured extensively with The Hilliard Ensemble, singing and recording the music of Arvo Pärt, and with The Michael Nyman Band. She was featured on Peter Greenaway films The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover, and Prospero’s Books and was featured on several Nyman CDs. Her CDs for John Harle include Terror and Magnificence and Silencium.

Concerts have included the UK premiere of Got Lost a major new song cycle written for her and the pianist Rolf Hind, by Helmut Lachenmann, at the Aldeburgh Festival, Elliott Carter’sA mirror on which to dwell with the Northern Sinfonia at The Sage, Gateshead, Edward Lear settings by Alistair Borthwick with the Hull Sinfonia, and Britten’s Cantata Academica at St. David’s Hall, Cardiff.

Oratorio plays an important role in Sarah’s concert work as does the song recital. Sarah has given many recitals throughout the UK, with pianist Stephen Gutman, including several in the BMIC’s Cutting Edge series, many at the Poole Lighthouse Centre for the Arts, and at Benslow Music’s Summer Festival. They gave a contemporary American Song recital at The Clothworkers Centenary Hall, Leeds and Sarah recently took part in The London Song Festival with Stephen Varcoe accompanied by Nigel Foster.

Recent engagements include a UK tour with Saxophonist John Harle and pop singer Marc Almond, promoting their new album The Tyburn Tree, and Lost in Music by Luke Styles, for solo soprano and chorus, performed at Camden Art Gallery.

Sarah teaches extensively in London and Cambridge and gives master classes at Trinity College of Music, Jackdaws in Somerset; she runs three popular vocal courses a year at Benslow Music in Hertfordshire.

In January 2013 Hull University awarded Sarah Leonard a Degree of Doctor of Music, honoris causa for her services to music.

Please contact us for a fully updated biography for concert programmes

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News featuring Sarah Leonard

Busiest day of the year so far! 1 April

We had a total of 21 singers working last Saturday,... READ MORE

Posted on April 3rd 2017

Choral premiere with Sarah Leonard and Richard Bannan

Classical Music is featuring the premiere of Ian... READ MORE

Posted on October 18th 2016

March Highlights

Always one of our busiest months… Adrian... READ MORE

Posted on March 1st 2014

Rossini Petite Messe in Ealing with Davies Music soloists on Saturday 8 June

Ealing Choral Society conducted by Jonathan Williams... READ MORE

Posted on June 6th 2013