Sarah Francis


Sarah Francis (b. 11 January 1938, London) is a British classical oboist, daughter of harpsichordist Millicent Silver (1905—1986) and flutist John Francis (1908—1992), and sister of operatic soprano Hannah Francis. She is a Fellow and Professor of the Royal College of Music in London and has been the director of the London Harpsichord Ensemble since 1981. Sarah Francis plays the classical oboe and oboe d'amore, touring internationally, and has recorded dozens of solo and ensemble albums on Hyperion, Unicorn-Kanchana, Decca, Chandos, and other prestigious classical labels.

Francis was born and grew up in a distinguished musical family, as both her parents were prolific concert performers and band leaders. Sarah won the Foundation scholarship at the Royal College of Music, studying with Terence MacDonagh. After graduating from the RCM, Sarah Francis continued her education in Paris on a Boise scholarship, trained by Pierre Pierlot. Her first orchestra appointment was as a principal oboe in the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra. Francis began regularly broadcasting on BBC in 1957, when Sarah was only nineteen, with solo recitals and concerts. She performed across various concert halls in England, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and the Netherlands.

In 1964, Sarah Francis presented her debut solo recording, Benjamin Britten's Six Metamorphoses After Ovid, Op. 49, released on 7" by A•R•C Records. (She also performed the work at the composer's Aldeburgh Festival and later recorded a few more versions.) In subsequent years, Francis released a sizeable catalog featuring oboe concertos by Albinoni, Händel, Telemann, and Mozart, and the XX-century British repertoire from Arnold Bax, Imogen Holst, Gordon Jacob, and Edmund Rubbra — with some recordings regularly heard on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM. Several contemporary composers wrote and dedicated works to Sarah Francis, including the Ariadne concerto by Gordon Crosse, which she premiered at the Cheltenham Festival (11 July 1972), subsequently performed at the BBC Proms (7 August 1974), and oboe concerts by William Mathias and Anthony Payne.
In Groups:BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra, London Harpsichord Ensemble
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