The Sarah’s Music Horn Challenge has been a regular – and very popular – element of Sarah’s Music. I really think some my guests have wanted to be on the programme BECAUSE of the Horn Challenge! We featured the best of the Horn Challenges Part 1 a while back, and it was one of Deutsche Welle´s most viewed videos of the year.

Sadly, broadcasting budgets continue to be squeezed worldwide , including at Deutsche Welle. My team and I have had an amazing run over the past 4,5 years and have made an incredible 96 episodes! I have loved and have poured my heart and soul into making each and every one of them and feel so fortunate I have had this platform to share my musical world. We’ve built quite a global community together! I promise the next project isn’t far away but until then, my thanks to my fantastic Sarah’s Music team and everyone at Deutsche Welle. I will miss the programme a lot! We thought we would go out the best way we know how – with the Best of the Horn Challenges Part 2. Who is YOUR favourite, I can´t choose, I love them all. So I would love to hear from you!

Berlin Chamber Music Hall, December 2018 – The 14 Berlin Flutes, Andreas Blau

I play with flutes players every day in the orchestra and my best friend is a flute player but while researching for this episode of Sarah’s Music I realised I knew virtually nothing about this beautiful instrument. So I spent some happy hours googling flutes and discovering all sorts of things – like the first flutes were made out of bird bones, that George Washington and Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky played the flute, and that you can beatbox on a flute. Great stuff! But most interesting of all was learning about all the different types of flutes you can hear today – and in this wonderful ensemble featured here on Sarah’s Music, you can see and hear them all!

The first rehearsal (in the middle of the night in Berlin, you’ll find out why in this episode) started with what looked like a lot of plumbing: everyone putting together their instruments. Daniel on the piccolo was of course the quickest, whereas Heiko and Klaus needed longer to set up their huge contrabass flutes. It was fascinating to watch and fascinating to listen to this ensemble play!

Enjoy this Christmas episode of Sarah’s Music with the 14 Berlin Flutes – Die 14 Berliner Flötisten- and wherever you are, have a wonderful Christmas!

Skid Row, Los Angeles August 2018  Urban Voices Project, Vijay Gupta, Leeav Sofer, LA Phil Horns

The power of music is a wonderful thing. We have seen this over and over in the past four years of Sarah’s Music but no more so than here in downtown Los Angeles on the infamous Skid Row. Skid Row is synonymous with homelessness and poverty but Street Symphony, the wonderful organisation we are featuring on this programme – Street Symphony – is bringing hope and inspiration to the residents.

Founded by the hugely inspiring Vijay Gupta, Street Symphony fascinated me from the moment I heard about it. Vijay organised an event at the Skid Row Archive and Museum for my team and I to meet some of the people involved – both organisers and participants. I was so happy that my dear friends from the LA Philharmonic horn section offered to come down and play with me, that meant so much.
We had a wonderful afternoon exchanging music with our new friends. The Urban Voices Project, under the direction of Leeav Sofer, sang for us, we horns played for them and then we finished up with a finale of everyone together. I absolutely loved it and will be hopefully visiting again on future trips to LA. Bravo to all involved in this very special project, I admire you all so much!

Los Angeles, August 2018 Oscar D´Leon, Gustavo Dudamel, LA Philharmonic

What a legend Oscar D´León, El Sonero del Mundo, is! I was so excited when I found out I would be playing with him in Los Angeles at the Hollywood Bowl, and was absolutely determined to get him onto Sarah’s Music. People told me I had no chance, that he would be too busy etc, but I didn’t give up and thanks to his manager, Oslan Osorio, I ended up being able to interview him the day before the first rehearsal. It´s funny – I was more nervous interviewing him than any of the “classical” music celebrities, I was a real fangirl!

The next day at the Hollywood Bowl we turned up for rehearsal and Oscar was already rehearsing with his band. No chance of a normal A from the oboe to tune up to – the sweet sounds of salsa were blasting out over the empty Hollywood Bowl! I loved being part of this concert – playing in some of Oscar´s iconic songs which have been arranged especially for him, his band and symphony orchestra. When Oscar wanted all the orchestra to get up and dance, noone moved. The conductor, Gustavo Dudamel, knowing that I love to dance salsa, looked over at me and gestured for me to go and dance. But I was an extra player in the LA Phil that day and was suddenly way too shy to get up and go to the front of the orchestra to dance with Oscar. But Nickolai Kurganov, a violinist in the LA Phil, saved the day – and MADE my day! I had heard he was a fantastic dancer so when he looked over and gestured that I should come dance with him, we found a cosy spot behind the violas and started to dance. I forgot there were 17,000 people watching and was simply in seventh heaven – dancing salsa with a great dancer to my favourite music sung live by one of my heroes. An unforgettable night, gracias Oscar – sabrosooo!

Arturo Sandoval Tarzana, Los Angeles, August 2018 

As I type this, I have Cuban jazz legend Arturo Sandoval´s CD “Ultimate Duets” playing in the background. I just love this album. It’s a fitting tribute to him that his duet partners on this album are all such world class musicians – ultimate duets indeed!

Arturo and I did a live “Horn Hangout” together in January 2018. We clicked from the moment we met and he brought me to tears at the end of the Hangout when he ‘Sarah-naded’ me on the piano. I wanted to share this fantastic musician with my Sarah’s Music audience and so I hope you enjoy this special portrait of a very special man who awes me with his musicality and passion. We had a wonderful day filming with Arturo and his beautiful wife Marienela, who invited myself and my team into their home with such graciousness and generosity. Arturo – eres fantástico!

Los Angeles, August 2018  Gustavo Dudamel, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Andrew Bain, Christopher Still

To play a concert at the iconic Hollywood Bowl is just so cool. There is really nothing like it. When the LA Phil´s principal horn Andrew Bain invited me to come and play with the orchestra, I jumped at the chance – and brought my Sarah´s Music team with me too!

Gustavo Dudamel, the LA Phil´s music & artistic director, gave a wonderful interview, as always, and his second Sarah´s Music Horn Challenge went even better than the first. I think he has been practising secretly… Thanks too to Andrew Bain and Chris Still for their musician insights, it made all three of us hungry to be out amongst the picnics before the concert!

I hope this episode will inspire you to book a visit to the Bowl – I promise you you will have a wonderful musical and culinary experience!

Beethovenfest Bonn, September 2018 Patricia Kopatchinskaja, Camerata Bern

Pat is really a true force of nature. We had never met properly so I was really looking forward to filming with her. The day of a concert on tour is always somewhat stressful for musicians – new hall, rehearsals etc so I was very grateful that Pat made time for the interview. And what a great place for an interview in Bonn it was – on the banks of the Rhine river!

I was also very happy to discover the Camerata Bern. Their ensemble playing is fantastic and they supported Pat in her solo pieces the whole time. The Karl Amadeus Hartmann Concerto Funebre for violin and string ensemble was incredibly moving – I had always thought that it wasn’t my cup of tea but hearing Pat explain the piece in the interview and then experiencing her interpretation of it in the concert, my mind was changed completely.

I had such fun with Pat – I wish the episode could have been an hour as she said so many wonderful things. Don’t miss the extra video where we discuss the horn parts in the Beethoven violin concerto… I think we’ll make a horn player out of her yet!

Santiago de Chile, June 2018  Gustavo Dudamel

When I received Gustavo´s invitation to fly halfway across the world to Santiago de Chile for four days to take part in his hommage concert for his beloved mentor, Maestro José Antonio Abreu, I didn´t hesitate for a second. It was an honour to have been asked and the long flight over and the jet lag were totally worth it – I wouldn´t have missed this concert for the world!

Gustavo had assembled a fine orchestra for this event – a global music community really came together the celebrate the life and legacy of Maestro Abreu and his vision for music and youth development. Maestro Abreu, the founder of El Sistema, would have loved everything about this concert – seasoned professionals from Gustavo´s “musical family” (Berlin and Vienna Philharmonics, LA Philharmonic and Gothenburg Symphony) playing along side the National Youth Orchestra of Chile (FOJI) and 20 musicians from the Simon Bolivar Orchestra from Venezuela. The atmosphere was electric from the first moment on and I loved working with the young musicians.

I was very happy and honoured to be able to film this episode of Sarah´s Music about the event. It was really hard to pack all the joy and inspiration of these four days into 12 minutes but I hope you get a feeling from this how special this event was.

Thanks to Gustavo´s wonderful team from the Gustavo Dudamel Foundation for all their support and help and for setting up this wonderful event. Rest in peace, Maestro Abreu, you will never be forgotten.

Berlin, May 2018  Pekka Kuusisto, Aamu Song, Teemu Korpipää

People often ask me how I come up with all the ideas for the Sarah´s Music programmes. Well, I keep my eyes open on all the classical music pages to see what I would find interesting and thank goodness the viewers seem to agree with me! One night I was having a look to see what was going on in Berlin and I suddenly saw RED on the Boulez Saal´s Facebook feed… I immediately clicked to see more and was delighted to see that this project features the Finnish violinist Pekka Kuusisto, of whom I am a big fan. Pekka playing the violin in a red dress made of 550 metres of material in a fabulous concert hall – PERFECT for Sarah´s Music!

It was the first time I had met Pekka, we had a wonderful day together, what a talented and inspiring musician he is. He is also brave enough to try new things in our classical world and I respect him a lot for it. I also really enjoyed meeting and talking to Aamu Song, who has such a peaceful aura about her. One of my favourite moments of the shoot was lying in the dress pocket with her next to me. (you have to watch the episode to find out what THAT means…)

Once again, a great technical team to work with, my Sarah´s Music favourites – Chris, Henning, Martin and Jeanne, welcoming sound man Kurosh to the team too, and we always love filming at the Boulez Saal. We definitely saw red that day – but in a good way! Pekka wins the prize for the most original Horn Challenge, wouldn´t you agree?

Luxembourg, May 2018   Stefano Bollani, Gustavo Gimeno, Orchestre Philharmonique du Luxembourg

Inspiring children to love classical music as much as I do is one of the most fulfilling yet sometimes challenging parts of my job. So I was thrilled when Pascal Sticklies, head of Education at the Luxembourg Philharmonie, asked me to write and present a children´s concert all about the wonderful American composer George Gershwin. It will be easy, I thought, Gershwin´s music is so popular! Well, it was anything but easy, but I loved every moment, especially choreographing the Towel Dance and then trying it out on various godchildren and friends…

I loved my time in Luxembourg – the Philharmonie is a fantastic concert hall and the orchestra was welcoming and wonderful. And Stefano Bollani is a dream to do such a project with! I adore him.

A child came up to me after the concert, hugged me around the knees and says “I loved it!” – these are the moments in my job which make everything worthwhile. Enjoy `Hello Mr Gershwin´and please join in the dance at the end!


Thank you to Alfonso Salgueiro for the great photos!