Sarah Nicolls

Sarah’s current research investigates how to increase performer autonomy and interactivity with technology, through an expansion of the pianist’s ‘performance environment’. She is also looking at re-structuring the piano and has built a prototype upright grand to allow greater access to the ‘inside’ of the instrument. In 2008 she worked with a team from the Centre for Digital Music at Queen Mary’s University, University of London, to create a unique performance at (re)Actor, part of the Human Computer Interaction conference. This was a new 20 minute composition by Sarah and used Bluetooth sensors, motors in the piano and various computer software programmes. In 2007 she completed a project supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, with a performance of five World Premieres at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. Her collaborative partners were Professor Richard Barrett (Brunel University), Michael Edwards (Reader, Edinburgh University), Professor Michael Clarke (Huddersfield University), Larry Goves (Lecturer, Royal Northern College of Music) Ruth Wall – a harpist using preparations and electronics, and Jonathan Green, a young composer/technologist investigating the use of wireless sensors.

Since winning the British Contemporary Piano Competition in 2000, Sarah has built up an extensive library of performances and is a regularly featured artist on BBC Radio 3. The BBC commissioned a concerto for her to perform with the London Sinfonietta and she has also performed Wolfgang Rihm with the Philharmonia Orchestra and given both live and recorded concerto performances with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. She has been soloist in Sinfonietta concerts of Berio and Nono with Oliver Knussen, and in 2003 created a solo multimedia show at the Purcell Room in the ‘Fresh’ Series entitled Cinesthesia.

She has given many UK and European festival performances (Cheltenham, Bath, Aldeburgh, Edinburgh, Poland, Austria, Germany, Portugal, Belgium etc) featuring new music by British composers with over a dozen world premieres (including Simon Holt, Colin Matthews and many young composers such as Stuart Macrae) and has also performed much Italian music, particularly that of Niccolo Castiglioni, whose piano music she recorded for Metier in 2005. Sarah also performs with her trio, Alexander’s Annexe: collaboration with sound technologist David Sheppard and WARP artist Mira Calix. Sarah is a Lecturer in Music at Brunel University.