Collaboration is a Cornerstone of an “Artistically Meaningful Life”
Growing up in small-town Connecticut with two musicians for parents, a very young Sarah Ford had her heart set on being a flautist. But when she was nine, her father gently guided her to French horn, sensing that she had potential to be exceptional. He was right. Sarah excelled at the instrument right away and the notion of being a musician began to take hold with the aspiring student.
Ford quickly found that her dedication to musical excellence was matched by a passion for the culture and camaraderie of music-making. She participated steadily in her schools’ orchestras, as well as numerous local performance groups, making friends along the way. “I loved talking to my peers about music,” recalls Ford. “We’d sit around and eat Chinese food and dream about which Berlin Philharmonic player we’d be. I got the nickname Steffy because Stefan Dohr was their principal horn at the time!”
The talented horn player was in demand by numerous colleges, but a generous scholarship package ultimately lured her to Rutgers. There, she fell in step with older peers in the graduate program. “Their focus was more aligned with my singular intention to become a professional musician,” explains Ford. Through these upperclassmen, she was drawn into a New York City youth orchestra where she performed alongside some of the country’s most gifted students. By the time she was 21, she had played Carnegie Hall seven times with them. She was also traveling the US and overseas for prestigious music events, orchestras, and ensembles, building her credentials, skill, and knowledge along the way.
Upon receiving her summa cum laude B.M. from Rutgers, Ford was accepted into the Yale School of Music. The prestigious, highly competitive graduate program attracts scores of top students from across the US. However, horn students are advised early on that they are chosen for the brilliance of their auditions and for their amenable personalities. “Because of that, being a team player is an important part of how I live an artistically meaningful life,” says Ford.
As she was completing her masters, Ford ventured west of Ohio for the first time to audition for the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, wisely arriving a week early to acclimate to the thin air. She was selected to join the horn section in 2016. Now, almost four years later, she appreciates all the opportunities this has revealed, such as working with international trombone soloist Christian Lindberg in 2019. She was inspired by his humility and pure musical intention. “I also enjoy conversations with locals,” says Ford. “People really are grateful for what musicians and music add to our quality of life. That is so rewarding to hear.”