Sarah is an Ivor Novello Award winning composer who uses a highly-distinctive blend of acoustic instruments, bespoke electronics and hand-built music machines. Sarah combines these to create compelling, forward thinking music that also echoes the sonorities of the past. Sarah’s debut opera, ‘Giant’, directed by Sarah Fahie, premiered at the Aldeburgh Festival in June 2023, and was well received, including a 5 star review from The Guardian.
Sarah’s approach reflects an eclectic musical background. A classically-trained musician, she specialised from a young age in contemporary composition and ancient instruments. Her desire to get inside notes and finely manipulate sound led her to study electroacoustic engineering, then robotics, alongside music – fields that come together to create her unique sound.
Her music for Romola Garai’s horror film Amulet (2020), for example, electronically manipulates the sounds of renaissance instruments, female voices and the calls of Scandinavian cattle herders. The result is a singularly haunting score, highly praised by critics globally. Her concert piece Camberwell Beauty features the Ealing Feeder, a robotic polyphonic carillon designed and built by Sarah to play at inhuman speeds. This creates a haze of metallic sound, unlike anything that could be conjured through sampling.
Sarah’s composition often blurs the boundaries between music and sound design. Her terse, electroacoustic score for Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape (directed by Richard Jones) featured at The Old Vic, London, and Park Avenue Armory, New York. Here she electronically manipulates close-up recordings of 1920s marine engines, metal-on-metal and ape noises to create an overwhelming sound experience – a sense of a 1920s steamship that’s animalistic and unfathomably vast.
In addition to film and theatre, Sarah also composes for the concert stage. She’s also known for her research into the sound palette of the 1950s and 60s Radiophonic pioneers and into the haunting psychological effects of infrasound in music.
Sarah received a Paul Hamlyn Composer’s Award in 2018 and the 2021 Visionary Award from The Ivors Academy Composer Awards.