A native of Hamden, Connecticut, soprano Sally Sanford has been performing since the age of six, when she sang in a performance of J. S. Bach’s great masterpiece, The St. Matthew Passion conducted by Fenno Heath. Her passion for baroque music has continued since that time. She sang as a girl chorister in a choir directed by Helen Boatwright and appeared in several opera performances as a child, including Hansel and Gretel, and Hindemith’s Let’s Build a Town and sang the title role in the musical Snow White at the age of 8. She began vocal study with soprano (now conductor) Susan Davenny Wyner at the age of 15. A music appreciation course during her freshman year at Yale taught by Kerala Snyder so electrified her that she decided to pursue majors in both music and literature, graduating summa cum laude. One of the highlights of her musical experiences at Yale was singing at Carnegie Hall in a performance of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony conducted by Leopold Stokowski on the occasion of his 90th birthday. She also discovered the wonders of Renaissance polyphany as a member of Capella Chordina, directed by Alejandro Planchart, with whom she made several recordings for Lyrachord.

Miss Sanford did her graduate work in historical performance practice at Stanford University and received her DMA degree in 1979. At Stanford she had the opportunity to work with George Houle, Leonard Ratner, William Mahrt, and Thomas Binkley, among others, and during this time she began vocal study with former Metropolitan Opera mezzo soprano Herta Glaz. Her landmark dissertation “Seventeenth and Eighteenth-Century Vocal Style and Technique” has received worldwide attention and was translated into Polish and published in Canor, the early music magazine in Poland. Miss Sanford has been a contributor to the Performer’s Guide to Seventeenth-Century Music and to the Journal of Seventeenth Century Music (vol1/no1).

For several seasons in New York, Miss Sanford was the soprano soloist with Ensemble for Early Music which presented an annual series of concerts at Lincoln Center, as well as touring nationally. Together with lutanist Catherine Liddell, she formed the trio Ensemble Chanterelle, and made her New York debut with the trio in 1984 as winner of the Concert Artists Guild Award. Their debut recording “Venetian Monody in the Age of Monteverdi” for Musical Heritage Society received enthusiastic critical acclaim. Miss Sanford appeared in Germany and Holland with Sequentia as part of the original group of women to perform the works of the 12th-century abbess Hildegarde von Bingen. She made two CDs with Sequentia for Harmonia Mundi Germany. Their recording of Hildegarde’s Symphoniae received the Edison Prize in 1987. Miss Sanford has also recorded works of Henry Purcell for Albany Records (“From Rosy Bow’rs”) and works of Andrea and Giovanni Bononcini for Centaur. She is currently finishing a recording project of cantatas and motets by Nicolas Bernier in collaboration with Dana Maiben and Lisa Brooke, violins; Peter Sykes, harpsichord and organ; Catherine Liddell, theorbo; and Brent Wissick, viola da gamba.

As a recording producer, Sally Sanford recently finished her third CD for the Renaissance ensemble Zephyrus, a group directed by Paul Walker and based in Charlottesville, Virginia that she regularly coaches. She has also produced recording projects for the Wellesley College Choir and composer/pianist Yehudi Wyner, among others. Sally Sanford has performed with many distinguished artists and ensembles in the course of her career. She has performed at the Nackamichi Festival, the Holland Early Music Festival, and the Kalamazoo Bach Festival, among others. As a recitalist, she has given many concerts with Ensemble Chanterelle as well as with Raymond Erickson, harpsichord and piano; John Hsu, viola da gamba; Ken Zuckerman ‘‘ud and lute; and Ursala Holliger, harp; among others. In 2003, she conducted the first performance in modern times of Purcell’s famous opera Dido and Aeneas to use Restoration English, using her reconstruction of the pronunciation from original sources. She has designed and directed concerts as Guest Artistic Director of Aston Magna and Guest Artistic Director for The Connecticut Early Music Festival. She has also been Associate Director of the Aston Magna Academy program, a summer program funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities, that brings together scholars and artists to consider the arts and society in the 17th & 18th centuries. In 1997, she had the honor to be the only American invited to judge the singing component of the International J.S. Bach Competition in Leipzig, Germany.

When not doing music, Sally Sanford enjoys fly fishing, canoeing, hiking, cooking, and playing tennis.

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