Sarah Ioannides’ dynamic presence on the podium for Symphony Tacoma has won praise from audiences and critics internationally. The New York Times has described her as a conductor with “unquestionable strength and authority.”
The physicality of Ioannides’ career requires dedication and perseverance, much like an athletic endeavor. She shares her story of injury, healing and music as a lens through which others might envision succeeding in anything that requires both mental and physical discipline.
“I’ve always had a passion for running,” says Ioannides, “but… with having two knee surgeries, conquering Lyme disease, and bringing up three children—while living in three states from coast to coast—my physical strength needed recovery… an ongoing challenge with constant travel.”
After moving to Tacoma, she says, she committed to resolve her knee struggles and to regain balance and strength. In 2017 she met Alison Unterreiner, PT.
Unterreiner says physical therapy relies on rehabilitating systematically and deliberately. And running requires a person to train effectively and to be patient for the results. Both physical therapy and running require self-discipline to do the work and to wait for the recovery or performance.
When Unterreiner and her husband attended Symphony Tacoma’s opening concert, the physical therapist was entranced by the performance and the music. But her PT self also focused on the conductor and the physicality of her job.
Ioannides told Unterreiner “I’ve never been very sporty,” but the physical therapist begged to differ: “What you are doing on the podium—takes endurance and strength and movement awareness and timing. That is the essence of athleticism.” This ignited talk of the training parallels of musicians and athletes, the need for selfdiscipline, and having the patience to let the music “sit” or let the body adapt.
After a few months of rehabilitation and running again, Ioannides’ focused dedication enabled her to complete the Sound to Narrows 12K, placing 11th in her age group.
Ioannides’ goals began with wanting to stay fit on the podium, and stay energetic to manage being a wife, mother and conductor. She now believes in her athleticism and plans to stay strong for conducting, for running and for life!
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