Sarah Hicks


Noted in the New York Times as part of "a new wave of female conductors in their late 20's through early 40's", Sarah Hicks's versatile and vibrant musicianship has secured her place in "the next generation of up-and-coming American conductors".  In October of 2009 she was named Principal Conductor, Pops and Presentations of the Minnesota Orchestra; in addition to conducting most Pops and Special Presentations, she will be instrumental in creating new Pops productions while also heading the innovative classical series, "Inside the Classics".  Hicks concurrently holds the positions of both Associate Conductor of the North Carolina Symphony  and  Staff Conductor of the Curtis Institute of Music.  Throughout her career she has collaborated with diverse artists, from Jamie Laredo and Hilary Hahn to Ben Folds and Chris Botti.

Ms. Hicks has guest conducted extensively both in the States and abroad, including the Chicago Symphony, San Francisco Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Columbus Symphony, Milwaukee Symphony, Detroit Symphony, National Symphony, Chamber Orchestra of Philadelphia, Prime Philharmonic (Seoul, Korea), Chattanooga Symphony and the Charleston Symphony.  Upcoming appearances include a debut with the Florida Symphony as well as return engagements with the San Francisco Symphony.

Ms.  Hicks's past positions include Associate Conductor of the Richmond Symphony Orchestra, Resident Conductor of the Florida Philharmonic, Assistant Conductor of the Reading Symphony and Assistant Conductor of the Philadelphia Singers, the chorus of the Philadelphia Orchestra, whom she has led in radio broadcasts heard nationwide.  She has also been Music Director of the Hawaii Summer Symphony, an ensemble she founded in 1991 in her hometown of Honolulu and which she led for five seasons.

Ms. Hicks was invited to Japan by the New National Theatre Tokyo, where she acted as assistant conductor to a production of Mozart's Die Zauberflöte  and has performed Verdi's Aïda with the East Slovak State Opera Theater.  Her extensive work with the Curtis Opera Studio include performances of Poulenc's Dialogues des Carmelites  and numerous vocal concerts; she led the Opera Studio's production of Handel's Alcina  in 2005 and led the Minnesota Orchestra in a semi-staged production of Humperdinck's Hansel und Gretel  in 2009.

A committed proponent of the performance of new music, Ms. Hicks regularly leads the Curtis Symphony Orchestra in readings, recordings and performances of contemporary works.  In addition to premiering works by young composers from both the Curtis Institute and the University of Pennsylvania, she has collaborated with Ned Rorem and Jennifer Higdon.  She has recently completed a recording project with the Vermont Symphony featuring music of Richard Danielpour and David Ludwig with Jaime Laredo and Sharon Robinson, soloists.  She has also conducted performances with Composers in the Shape of a Pear (Cleveland) and the Aspen Contemporary Ensemble. 

The 2010-11 season marks the beginning of an innovative project conceived by Ms. Hicks;  the Musical Microcommission Project, in conjunction with the "Inside the Classics" series of the Minnesota Orchestra, is an initiative to bring a major new work to the stage of Orhestra Hall with funding via hundreds of "micro" donations from music lovers across Minnesota and beyond.

Ms. hicks was a member of the Faculty of the Curtis Institute of Music from 2000-2005 and continues her affiliation with Curtis as Staff Conductor.  She has prepared the Symphony Orchestra of the Curtis Institute for readings and concerts with leading conductors including Wolfgang Sawallisch and Sir Simon Rattle.  Her work with the Curtis Symphon led to a one-season appointment as assistant conductor to the UBS Verbier Festival Orchestra, and ensemble she trained intensively for Music Director James Levine, to whom she acted as assistant conductor.

Sarah Hicks was born in Tokyo, Japan and raised in Honolulu, HI.  Trained on boeht the piano and viola, she was a prizewinning pianist by her early teens.  She received her BA magna cum laude from Harvard University in composition; her AIDS Oratorio was premiered in May of 1993 and received a second performance at the Fogg Art Museum the following December.  She holds an Artists' Degree in conducting from the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studied with renowned pedagogue Otto-Werner Mueller.  Ms. Hicks's talents have been recognized with numerous prized and scholarships; she received the Thomas Hoopes Prize for composition and the Doris Cohen Levy Prize for conducting from Harvard University, and she was the recipient of the Helen F. Whitaker Fund Scholarship and a Presser Award during her time at Curtis.

In her spare time, Ms. Hicks enjoys running, yoga, her German Shepherd, cooking (and eating) with her husband, French hornist Paul LaFollette, blogging, snowshoeing and songwriting.

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