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A Composer in This Day and Age: An Interview With Sarah Ballard

Updated: Sep 27, 2022

“I was fascinated by the way music can transport the listener to another place.”

To celebrate our upcoming concert with her, we sat down with the brilliant Pōneke-based composer, Sarah Ballard, to discuss all things music, bhakti yoga, and world premieres…

Photo Credit: Kolmal Tilyard Photography

What originally inspired you to become a composer?

For me becoming a composer was a very natural process. As a child, I loved music and would make up tunes. I think what inspired me to become a composer was my exposure to a wide variety of music from my parents, piano teachers and music teachers in high school. I was fascinated by the way music can transport the listener to another place. In my teens I would spend a lot of time studying singer-songwriters, composing piano ballads and began to compose instrumental music. In high school I was introduced to the wonderful works of Gareth Farr and John Psathas and this sparked the light that one could actually be a composer in this day and age. Opportunities presented themselves from there and I wound up in the University of Auckland music department.

We are so excited to be presenting with you the world premiere of your new composition, Brahma-samhitā, at the end of September. Can you tell us a little bit about the journey of composing this piece?

I am so excited to be able to work with the New Zealand String Quartet. They are all wonderful people! This piece, Brahma-samhitā, lead on from a piece I wrote for the NZTrio called Prema Lahari in 2020. Tara Jahn-Werner, chairperson of the Nicholas Tarling Charitable Trust, approached me at that concert and suggested the potential of supporting a concept for a new piece. I had been reading the beautiful Brahma-samhitā text and thought I just have to set this for voice and string quartet. I sele