Sarah Hopkins

Composer and Musician

What is your musical background?

I grew up in a very musical family & was classically trained as a ‘cellist at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music High School & the Victorian College of the Arts Music School in Melbourne. I began creating my own music in 1976 (initially for solo cello). Since 1981 I’ve represented Australia at many international Festivals & toured as a Cultural Ambassador for the Australian Government performing my own original music. In 1982 I created the Harmonic Whirlies – celestial-sounding musical instruments which everyone can play & which add an other-worldly feel to a lot of my music.  My compositions include music for choir, orchestra, ensembles, audience participation music (including the Harmonic Whirlies & chimes), solos, duos, ‘Sacred Sound Journeys’ plus lots of collaborative music with other composer-performers (including Bjork, Peter Carolan from Gondwanaland & the Gyuto Monks of Tibet).

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What is your advice to singers performing your works?

Sing from your Soul, this is holistic music which engages & celebrates the totality of Being. Please sing with a natural voice quality & minimise vibrato. I invite you to internally dedicate your singing to the uplifting & liberation of all Beings (yourself included). This brings a strong sense of purpose to your singing & gives it ‘wings’ to fly!
 
Find songs by Sarah:
 

What are your favourite pieces you’ve composed?

‘Past Life Melodies’‘Honour the Earth’‘Reclaiming the Spirit’ ‘Remember the Joy’ are my favourite pieces so far. ‘Past Life Melodies’ is my “signature” composition. I composed it in 1991 for mixed voice a cappella choir on a commission from St Peters Chorale, Brisbane.  It’s a profound song which has an ancient timeless feel that continues to have appeal across many generations. The melodies & chants within this song came to me spontaneously & resonated deeply within me, as though they were songs from my past lives (hence the title). These melodies & chants seem to resonate deeply with others on a Soul level ~ which is why I call my music ‘Music for the Soul’. ‘Past Life Melodies’ includes haunting melodies, “open-throated” chant singing (inspired by the Eastern European folk tradition), long sustained passages of pure sound building rich chords of sonic colour, Aboriginal inspired chant & harmonic overtone singing (which has its roots in Mongolia) & sounds like celestial flute melodies high above the choir. Most of these vocal techniques had never been heard in Western choral music before this piece took the choral world by storm! Since then it has become a standard repertoire song for many of the world’s leading choirs (including Chanticleer, The St Olaf’s Choir & the American Boychoir ).

Sarah plays “Reclaiming the Spirit” for solo cello

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