Sarah Willis

Born in Maryland, USA

Member since 2001-09-01


Berlin Philharmonic Association (confraternity)

Official Website:

”My dream came true in September 2001 when I joined the Berlin Philharmonic as a horn player – and as the orchestra’s first-ever female brass player!“

“The horn is for boys”, Sarah Willis' schoolteacher told her, and so he suggested that she learn the flute or the oboe. That remark served as a challenge to the US-born Brit, who grew up in Tokyo, Boston, Moscow and London and had her first horn lessons at the age of 14. After studying for three years on the Performer's Course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, Sarah continued her training with Fergus McWilliam in Berlin.

From 1991 to 2001 she was a member of the Staatskapelle Berlin and in 2001 became the first female brass player to be accepted into the ranks of the Berlin Philharmonic. Sarah Willis has performed with other leading orchestras such as the Chicago Symphony, London Symphony and the Sydney Symphony Orchestras and has appeared as a soloist all over the world. She has recorded various acclaimed albums, her most recent of which, Mozart y Mambo, is a fusion of classical and Cuban rhythms.

Sarah is involved in many of the Berlin Philharmonic education projects and especially enjoys creating and presenting Family Concerts. She also interviews conductors and soloists for the Digital Concert Hall. Sarah is passionate about music education and makes full use of digital technology and social media to reach audiences world- wide. She is also a regular broadcaster and interviewer on TV and online and fronts the classical music programme Sarah´s Music for Deutsche Welle TV. Sarah’s contributions to classical music were recognised at the highest level in the UK when she was made an MBE – Member of the Order of the British Empire – by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in the Queen’s 2021 Birthday Honours List for services to charity and for the promotion of classical music.