Born in southwestern Wisconsin, Sarah Brailey grew up on a farm overlooking the Mississippi River with horses, goats, geese, and all manner of feline and canine companions. Her mother–an amateur Bach-obsessed pianist and organist turned nurse and her father, a physician with an encyclopedic knowledge of opera and a voice to match his six-and-a-half-foot frame–kept the radio tuned to public radio and encouraged their children’s musical instincts from an early age. Childhood highlights included repeat performances of Mozart’s Queen of the Night under the living room grand piano, winning Best Keyboards in a high school show choir competition, and playing the Elgar cello concerto in a master class for renowned cellist Paul Katz.
Sarah’s impatience with specialization continues to the present. She enjoys a career filled with a plethora of diverse projects including soloing in Handel’s Messiah with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, performing with Kanye West and Roomful of Teeth at the Hollywood Bowl, and recording cello and vocal soundscapes for the current Fog x FLO Fujiko Nakaya public art installation in Boston’s Emerald Necklace park system. She has been hailed by The New York Times for her “radiant, liquid tone,” “exquisitely phrased,” and “sweetly dazzling singing” and by Opera UK for “a sound of remarkable purity.” Co-founder of Just Bach, a new monthly concert series in Madison, Wisconsin, Sarah is also the Artistic Director of the Handel Aria Competition.
This season, Sarah can be seen singing John Zorn at the Chicago Art Institute, the Guggenheim Museum, and the November Music Festival in s’Hertogenbosch, Netherlands. She is thrilled to be singing Mahler’s 2nd Symphony with the Johnstown Symphony and a program of Josquin des Prez and his contemporaries with Cut Circle in San Francisco. She will return to the Brooklyn Art Song Society for a program of songs by Ned Rorem and will join Bang on a Can All-Stars and The Choir of Trinity Wall Street at Carnegie Hall in Julia Wolfe’s Pulitzer Prize-winning oratorio Anthracite Fields. She is also looking forward to recording the premiere album of Dame Ethel Smyth’s symphony The Prison with The Experiential Orchestra and bass-baritone Dashon Burton.
She is delighted to be returning to Boston for several projects including Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas with The Handel and Haydn Society, and Puccini’s Suor Angelica with the Boston Symphony Orchestra and Lorelei Ensemble. Lorelei also joins Grammy-nominated chamber orchestra A Far Cry for a program at Jordan Hall featuring a world premiere by Kareem Roustom that tells the stories of the women of The Odyssey.
Much to her mother’s delight, Sarah continues to sing plenty of Bach, and will perform as soprano soloist in the St. John Passion with Saint Thomas Fifth Avenue in New York City, the Weihnachts-Oratorium with Lyra Baroque and the Bach Society of Minnesota, and Cantata 97: In allen meinen Taten with the Oratory Bach Ensemble.
Recent memorable moments include performing Barber’s Knoxville: Summer of 1915 with The Colorado Symphony; Purcell’s The Fairy Queen, Handel’s Silete venti, and Bach’s Mass in B Minor with the Handel and Haydn Society; discovering a love of Webern through performing Op. 13, 14, and 25 with Trinity Wall Street; making childhood Sarah very happy by performing Zweite Dame in Mozart’s Die Zauberflöte; singing John Zorn at the Louvre in front of the Mona Lisa; deepening her obsession with Benjamin Britten performing Les Illuminations with NOVUS NY; singing Handel’s Queen of Sheba wearing feathers and leather with the Trinity Baroque Orchestra; and countless performances with Lorelei Ensemble, a group of eight of the most astounding women on the planet.
Among Sarah’s many recording collaborators are tUne-yArDs, John Zorn, the Choir of Trinity Wall Street, Paola Prestini, and Bang on a Can All-Stars Stars (Julia Wolfe’s 2015 Pulitzer Prize-winning work Anthracite Fields). Sarah is a featured soloist on numerous GRAMMY®-nominated albums including New York Polyphony’s Sing Thee Nowell and The Clarion Choir’s recording of Maximilian Steinberg’s Passion Week. She also appears as a soloist on the premiere recording of Du Yun’s Angel’s Bone, winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Music, and as the impish fairy Verveine in the premiere recording of Le Dernier Sorcier by Pauline Garcia Viardot, to be released this December, also featuring mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton and bass-baritone Eric Owens in the title role.