Versatile mezzo-soprano, Sarah Ponder, enjoys a busy career as a soloist and ensemble singer with Lyric Opera of Chicago, Grant Park Chorus, Chicago Symphony Chorus, Chicago a cappella, Music of the Baroque, and many others. Hailed as “Deeply expressive” (Chicago Sun Times) and a “first-class soloist” (Chicago Classical Review), some of Sarah’s favorite performances include two featured solo appearances with the Grant Park Music Festival, playing Julia Child in performances of Lee Hoiby’s one-woman opera, Bon Appetit! and a rousing rendition of “Row, Row Your Boat” with Yo-Yo Ma at Children’s Memorial Hospital as part of her ongoing work with the Citizen Musician Initiative. Upcoming performances include various oratorio and opera appearances around Chicago and the country.
Through her outreach at Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Sarah has also “beguilingly” (Chicago Tribune) performed several solo concerts with famed Maestro Riccardo Muti at the piano. This work inspired by Muti’s vision of this project, spreading music to all – “even prisons” – has been featured in both the Chicago Tribune and Sun Times. The partnership between the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Storycatcher’s Theatre, and IYC Warrenville has helped to foster an appreciation of classical music and given marginalized youth a chance to work with and perform alongside talented teaching artists. In addition to being featured in these performances, Sarah has also helped to bring opera and classical music to new audiences, appearing with Opera for the Young, the Opera Divas, Lyric Unlimited, and recitals through the Musicians Club of Women.
A dedicated teacher and member of the National Association of the Teachers of Singing, Sarah holds a faculty position at Loyola University. In addition to training voices, Sarah has coached many young composers through workshops at Merit School of Music and Chicago Academy for the Arts, providing specialized feedback and instruction. She recently finished recording another set of works from Carnegie Hall’s Lullaby Project partnered with the CSO Negaunee Music Institute, assisting young parents to create original lullabies. Last June, Sarah performed one of these lullabies with Yo-Yo Ma at his first Concert for Peace at St. Sabina in Chicago. This spring and summer she will perform original song compositions in a new joint project between Purpose Over Pain, The Negaunee Institute and the Irene Taylor Trust, both honoring and calling attention to victims of gun violence. Her work as a technique model is also featured in the award-winning pedagogy book by Dr. Julia Davids, Vocal Technique: A Guide for Conductors, Teachers, and Singers.