Sarah Willis was born in Maryland, USA and holds dual British and American citizenship.
Her father’s work as a foreign correspondent took her family around the world and they lived in USA, Tokyo and Moscow before moving to England when Sarah was 13. She began playing the horn aged 14 at school and then attended the Royal College of Music Junior Department. She went on to study full time at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where her teachers included Anthony Halstead and Jeff Bryant.
Sarah later studied with Fergus McWilliam in Berlin, where she became 2nd Horn in the Berlin State Opera under Daniel Barenboim in 1991. During this time, Sarah played as a guest with many top orchestras such as Chicago Symphony, London Symphony and the Sydney Symphony Orchestra and performed worldwide as a soloist and in various chamber music ensembles.
In 2001, Sarah Willis joined the Berlin Philharmonic, becoming the first female member of the brass section. As well as her work with the orchestra that takes her all over the world, she has recorded various acclaimed CDs including the Brahms Horn Trio, the Rosetti Double Horn Concertos as well as the much celebrated CDs, Opera! and Four Corners! with the Berlin Philharmonic Horns. Her solo album, “Horn Discoveries” was released in 2014.
Sarah is involved in many of the Berlin Philharmonic education projects and especially enjoys creating and presenting their Family Concerts. She interviews conductors and soloists for the Digital Concert Hall and in 2011, she presented live to 33 million viewers during the Final Concert of the YouTube Symphony Orchestra.
Sarah is passionate about music education and makes full use of digital technology and social media to reach audiences worldwide. She was chosen to be one of the first testers of Google Glass and used this experience to see how new technology could be used in classical music.
She runs a successful series of online interviews known at “Horn Hangouts” (is also a regular broadcaster and interviewer on TV and online) and fronts the classical music programme Sarah´s Music for Deutsche Welle TV.