Sarah Lewis


Sarah Lewis

Hometown: Petoskey, Michigan

Instrument(s): Oboe

Age you began playing: 11

Year you joined the TSO: 2012

Who or what inspired you most to play your instrument? Before I decided on an instrument to play in my sixth-grade band class, a high school oboe player named Amy Peterson came to our class to demonstrate how to play the oboe. When she played, I was instantly mesmerized by the sweet, singing quality of the instrument. I also noticed that the little double reed at the top of her oboe was made with hot pink thread. Since that was my favorite colour, I felt I had no choice but to play the oboe. To this day, I still prefer oboe reeds that are made with hot pink thread!

Most memorable experience performing with the TSO:  Performing Mahler Symphony No. 8, “Symphony of a Thousand”. It was a truly moving experience to feel the energy of hundreds of musicians performing this incredible work together.

What have been the greatest challenges and achievements of your career so far?  The greatest challenge has definitely been making reeds. As oboists, we actually make our own oboe reeds out of bamboo-like cane and cork tubes. Since the quality of the reed has a profound impact on the quality of sound produced on the oboe, I spend hours every day working tediously to scrape the double reed to the exact shape and thickness necessary. While this aspect of oboe-playing can be frustrating at times, it is extremely gratifying when you finally make that great reed. The greatest achievement of my musical career was winning the second oboe position with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

What is your favourite music to play?  I find Mozart particularly rewarding, especially as a second oboe player. I love playing his symphonies and concertos because many of them contain beautiful oboe duets that are very fun to play.  I also enjoy playing Spanish music and opera.

Who are your favourite musicians in any genre? Ella Fitzgerald, Jascha Heifetz, Frank Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Yo-Yo Ma, Whitney Houston, Placido Domingo, John Mayer, and Maria Callas.

If you were not a full-time musician, what would you be? An elementary school music teacher.

What do you enjoy doing most when you’re not on stage?  I love doing anything outdoors— I really enjoy camping, hiking, and kayaking.

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Musician Biography

Sarah Lewis joined the Toronto Symphony Orchestra in the position of second oboe in 2012. Ms. Lewis recently received her Master’s Degree from The Juilliard School, under the tutelage of Nathan Hughes, with additional studies with Elaine Douvas, Pedro Diaz, and Linda Strommen. A native of Petoskey, Michigan, she completed her undergraduate degree at Michigan State University, studying with Jan Eberle.

This past summer, Ms. Lewis joined musicians from orchestras across North America to perform in the Lake Tahoe SummerFest Orchestra. During the summers of 2010 and 2011, she attended the Tanglewood Music Festival, where she was awarded the Mickey L. Hooten Memorial Prize. She also participated in the Chautauqua Summer Music Festival for two summers. Before joining the TSO, Ms. Lewis performed with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, the New World Symphony, and the Lansing Symphony Orchestra.

When she is not playing the oboe or making reeds, Ms. Lewis enjoys hiking, baking, and playing with her cat, Daisy.

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