Sarah Cahill, pianist
“A sterling pianist and an intrepid illuminator of the classical avant-garde…”
– The New York Times
“fiercely gifted” – The New York Times
“I would say never miss a recital by Cahill, but that’s obviously impossible since she averages, what, one a week? No wonder she’s on top of current music: she’s played all of it.” – San Francisco Classical Voice
“a persuasive advocate for American experimentalist composers” – The Chicago Tribune
“As tenacious and committed an advocate as any composer could dream of…”
– San Francisco Chronicle
"She is... a vessel through which musical ideas can pass, a communicator whose technique is put at the service of empathy and understanding. Her devotion to promoting music not yet in the mainstream is impressive: almost every piece on this program had come into being as the result of her commissioning requests." – San Diego Union Tribune
Sarah Cahill, hailed as “a sterling pianist and an intrepid illuminator of the classical avant-garde” by The New York Times, has commissioned and premiered over seventy compositions for solo piano. Composers who have dedicated works to Cahill include John Adams, Terry Riley, Frederic Rzewski, Pauline Oliveros, Julia Wolfe, Roscoe Mitchell, Annea Lockwood, and Ingram Marshall. Keyboard Magazine writes, “Through her inspired interpretation of works across the 20th and 21st centuries, Cahill has been instrumental in bringing to life the music of many of our greatest living composers.” She was named a 2018 Champion of New Music, awarded by the American Composers Forum (ACF).
Cahill enjoys working closely with composers, musicologists, and scholars to prepare scores for each performance. She researched and recorded music by prominent early 20th- century American modernists Henry Cowell and Ruth Crawford and commissioned a number of new pieces in tribute to their enduring influence. Cahill has worked closely with composer Terry Riley since 1997, and for his 80th birthday, she commissioned nine new works for solo piano in his honor and performed them with several of Riley’s own compositions at venues across the country. Cahill also had the opportunity to work closely with Lou Harrison and has championed many of his works for piano.
Cahill’s latest project is The Future is Female, an investigation and reframing of the piano literature featuring more than seventy compositions by women around the globe, from the Baroque to the present day. Recent and upcoming performances of The Future is Female include concerts presented by The Barbican, Carolina Performing Arts, Carlsbad Music Festival, Detroit Institute of Arts, University of Iowa, Bowling Green New Music Festival, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, North Dakota Museum of Art, Mayville State University, the EXTENSITY Concert Series’ Women Now Festival in New York, and the Newport Classical Festival.
Cahill has performed classical and contemporary chamber music with artists and ensembles such as Jessica Lang Dance; pianists Joseph Kubera, Adam Tendler, and Regina Myers; violinist Stuart Canin; the Alexander String Quartet; New Century Chamber Orchestra; Left Coast Chamber Ensemble, and many more. She also performs as a duo with violinist Kate Stenberg.
Sarah Cahill’s discography includes more than twenty albums on the New Albion, CRI, New World, Tzadik, Albany, Innova, Cold Blue, Other Minds, Irritable Hedgehog, and Pinna labels. Cahill's latest album, The Future is Female, Vol. 1, In Nature, was released in March 2022 on First Hand Records. The Future is Female is a three-volume series, which celebrates and highlights women composers from the 17th century to the present day. These albums encompass 30 compositions by women from around the globe and include many new commissioned works and world premiere recordings.
Cahill’s radio show, Revolutions Per Minute, can be heard every Sunday evening from 8 to 10 pm on KALW, 91.7 FM in San Francisco. She is on the faculty of the San Francisco Conservatory and is a regular pre-concert speaker with the San Francisco Symphony and the Los Angeles Philharmonic.
Photo by Kristen Wrzesniewski