Sarah Willis is an internationally renowned horn player, has been a member of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra since 2001, and is an acclaimed television and digital presenter. Travelling the world with her horn, she brings the best of classical music to a global audience.
Sarah was born in Maryland, USA and holds dual British and American citizenship. Her father’s work as a foreign correspondent took her family around the world and they lived in USA, Tokyo, and Moscow before moving to England when Sarah was 13. She began playing the horn in school at the age of 14, and attended the Royal College of Music Junior Department. She went on to study fulltime at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where her teachers included Anthony Halstead and Jeff Bryant.
Sarah later studied with Fergus McWilliam in Berlin, where she became second Horn in the Berlin State Opera under Daniel Barenboim in 1991. During this time, Sarah played as a guest with orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, London Symphony, and the Sydney Symphony and performed worldwide as a soloist and in various chamber music ensembles.
In 2001, Sarah joined the Berlin Philharmonic, becoming the first female member of the brass section. As well as her work with the orchestra, she has recorded the Brahms Horn Trio, the Rosetti Double Horn Concerto, and the albums Opera! and Four Corners! with the Berlin Philharmonic Horns. Her solo album, Horn Discoveries, was released in 2014.
Sarah is involved in many of the Berlin Philharmonic education projects and especially enjoys creating and presenting their Family Concerts. She interviews conductors and soloists for the Digital Concert Hall, and in 2011 she presented live to 33 million viewers during the Final Concert of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Sarah is passionate about music education and makes full use of digital technology and social media to reach audiences worldwide. She was chosen to be one of the first testers of Google Glass and used this experience to see how new technology could be used in classical music.
Sarah runs a successful series of online interviews known as Horn Hangouts and is also a regular broadcaster and interviewer on television and online and fronts the classical music program Sarah´s Music for Deutsche Welle television.
Sarah was elected an IHS Honorary Member in 2021.
Photo by Sebastian Haenel, 2018