British composer and viola player Sarah Frances Beamish was born in London on 26 August 1956. She played viola in the National Youth Orchestra and studied the instrument at the Royal Northern College of Music (where she took composition lessons with Anthony Gilbert and Lennox Berkeley) and then with Bruno Giuranna at the Hochschule für Musik Detmold in Germany.
She began her professional career as a viola player in the Raphael Ensemble, based in London, but later gave up playing the viola and moved to Scotland, where she blossomed as a composer of symphonies, concertos, chamber and instrumental music, film and theatre music.
In 1993 she received the Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for outstanding achievement in composition. From 1998 until 2002 she was composer in residence with both the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
A Scottish Arts Council 'Creative Scotland' Award allowed her to write the oratorio The Knotgrass Elegy which was performed at the BBC Proms in 2001.
Scotland's national academy for science and the arts, the Royal Society of Edinburgh, elected her as a fellow in 2016.
Wigmore Hall's 2022 International String Quartet Competition uses Sally Beamish's Nine Fragments - String Quartet No 4 as its set repertoire.
Further information: sallybeamish.com
Ensemble. In Full Command - British harpist Lucy Nolan plays music by Marcel Tournier, Benjamin Britten, Sally Beamish, Paul Patterson, Tsvetlina Likova and Astor Piazzolla, heard by Mike Wheeler
Ensemble. Pin-point Delicacy and Precision - Mike Wheeler is impressed by the Eblana String Trio
CD Spotlight. Jaw-Dropping Technique - Sharon Bezaly plays Gubaidulina, Beamish and Takano, recommended by Ron Bierman. '... a beautiful tone at any volume in any octave ...'
CD Spotlight - Bridging the day. 'Robert Irvine gives a consummate performance, technically amazing, and emotionally involving ...' Works for cello and piano by Sally Beamish, explored by David Thompson
Record box - Two by two. Animals and music, with Basil Ramsey