Sadie Harrison is known primarily as a composer and lecturer, her music performed and broadcast across the globe by many of the world’s leading ensembles and soloists, with works released to critical acclaim on Naxos, NMC, Cadenza, Sargasso, Prima Facie, Toccata Classics, BML, Divine Art/Metier, and Clarinet Classics. She is particularly well known for the socio-political aspects of her music-making with several works challenging stereotypes of marginalised peoples - refugees, Afghan women, the deaf, the homeless - celebrating their creativity and individuality with powerful expressions of musical solidarity. For several years, she also pursued a secondary career as an archaeologist, specialising initially in the Irish Neolithic, and latterly in the prestige pottery of the Continental Bronze Age (also appearing on Channel 4’s Time Team). Reflecting her interest in the past, many of Sadie’s compositions have been inspired by the traditional musics of old and extant cultures with cycles of pieces based on the folk music of Afghanistan, Lithuania, the Isle of Skye, the Northern Caucasus and the UK.
Her focus during 2015-16 was on a substantial collaborative project entitled Gulistan-e Nur: The Rosegarden of Light, working with US Ensemble Cuatro Puntos (with whom she currently Composer- in-Residence) and students from the Afghanistan National Institute of Music (where she is currently Composer-in-Association). The project resulted in several commissions, a US tour (September 2015, Boston, Massachusetts, Connecticut) a European tour (May-June 2016, York, Brighton, Swanage, London, Shaftesbury, Berlin, Amsterdam), and a CD with Toccata Classics (released June 2016). The project was generously supported by two Arts Council England Grants for the Arts, a PRSF Women Make Music Award, and grants from RVW, Hinrichsen, New Music USA and the Ambache Charitable Trust in acknowledgement of the unique nature of the project which brought together music and musicians from three continents - Europe, America and Asia. She was recently appointed as Visiting Fellow to Goldsmiths College in recognition of her research work on Afghanistan. The Rosegarden ion Light CD (Toccata Classics/Naxos) featuring Sadie’s original works alongside traditional music from the students at the Afghanistan National Institute of Music was released in 2016 to great critical acclaim. BBC3 Record Review described the disc as ‘moving and intriguing’, and MusicWeb International as ‘engaging, mysterious, delightfully pointed dances.’ Sadie has recently completed a symphonic work for Afghanistan Women’s Orchestra (Ensemble Zohra) -Sapida Dam Nau -supported by a Finzi Trust Scholarship. This work was premiered at the Closing Concert of the World Economic Forum, Davos in January 2017 with subsequent performances in Geneva, Weimar and Berlin.
2016-19 saw the release of 6 discs, all receiving superb reviews: Observer: ‘disc of glittering intensity’; BBC Music Magazine: ‘beautiful and intriguing’; Fanfare: ’a special, fragile space’, 5:4: 'daringly wild...positively feral. Utterly amazing’, Composition Today: ‘a riot of sound..a great shout of joy’, Gramophone: ‘an important contribution to piano repertoire’.
Notable recent performances have taken place at the International Mozart Festival in Johannesburg, in Pietermaritzburg and Stellenbosch, SA (Renée Reznek),York (Chimera, Geert Callaert, Albany Trio), Bergen, Nicosia and Tennessee (Peter Sheppard Skaerved), Club Inégales (Dr. K Sextet), Bristol (SCAW), Brighton (Helen Burford), Seaton (Trittico), Isle of Rasaay (Sarah Watts), Huddersfield (Nancy Ruffer), National Portrait Gallery, British Museum and Wiltons Music Hall (Peter Sheppard, Eve Daniel, Roderick Chadwick), Holbourne Museum (Elizabeth Walker/ Richard Shaw), Shaftesbury, Stroud, Bristol, City University (Madeleine Mitchell/Geoff Poole/Ian Pace), The Forge, Camden (CHROMA), Almenucar, Granada (Frano Kakarigi), Late Music York (Pippa Harrison), Sydney, Australia (Jenny Duck-Chong), the USA Hartford Women Composers Festival, Brighton Fringe Festival, Institute of Cultural Diplomacy, Berlin (Cuatro Puntos).
Recent new works have included ..an amaranth from the shade.. for violinist Peter Sheppard Skaerved, A Book of Poems for double bass virtuoso Frano Kakarigi premiered in Granada in 2018, Hällristningsområdet for Dan Styffe (released on Prima Facie Records in April 2017), SQUISH! a string quartet commissioned by Cuatro Puntos in celebration of the deaf community in Hartford, Connecticut premiered in December 2017, The Oldest Song in the World for Cuatro Puntos released on Prima Facie in June 2019, and Coretta commissioned by NMSW in celebration of the anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King, premiered in April 2018.
Sadie was appointed as the first Composer-in-Residence at the Bei Wu Sculpture Park, Berlin in 2017 supported by an Arts Council England/British Council International Development Grant. Sadie’s recent commissions have included ‘..the glory of stars..’ for Tomas Klément/Czech Radio, Cantare et trepidare for the virtuoso singing violist, Katherine Clarke, Anthem for Bristol Planetarium and the Zelkova Quartet (celebrating the Moon landing’s 50th anniversary) and My Hazara People for the Orchestra of St. Johns and Charlotte Tetley (with a text by award-winning poet Shukria Rezaei). Sadie’s music is published by UYMP, ABRSM and Recital Music with works on Trinity and ABRSM examination board repertoire lists. Sadie is sought after as a composition mentor and advisor holding posts with South West Music School and New Music South West. She is currently Chair of Trustees for the new music charity Soundworld.
Sadie's personal website is: www.sadieharrisoncomposer.co.uk .