Known for impeccable technical skill, musicality and versatility, Australian flute soloist Sally Walker performs on modern flutes and piccolo as well as historical flutes and recorders and has appeared in the London Proms, Salzburg, Lucerne, Tanglewood and Edinburgh Festivals. Grand-finalist in the Leonardo de Lorenzo International Flute Competition (Italy), and prize-winner in the Friedrich Kuhlau International Flute Competition (Germany) she was awarded scholarships from the DAAD (German Academic Exchange for postgraduate study in Germany), Ian Potter Cultural Fund and the Queen’s Trust. Regular Guest Principal with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Principal Flautist with the Omega Ensemble, she is also Senior Lecturer in Classical Performance (Woodwind) at the Australian National University School of Music.
Sally has toured and recorded with the Berlin Philharmonic and Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestras, is a former Principal Flute of the Deutsche Kammerakademie Neuss, was a member of Kölner Kammerorchester and has performed as Guest Principal Flute with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, NDR Radio Philharmonie Hannover, Kammerakademie Potsdam, Manchester Camerata, Queensland Symphony Orchestra, Adelaide Symphony Orchestra and the Australian Opera and Ballet Orchestra. She has also performed as concerto soloist with orchestras including the Dortmund Philharmonic Orchestra (on both flute and piccolo), Orchestra Accademia I Filarmonici di Verona and the Klassische Philharmonie Bonn as well as many Australian orchestras.
Increasingly in demand as soloist, Sally recently toured with Omega Ensemble performing Kats-Chernin’s ‘Night and Now’ concerto at Sydney Opera House Utzon Room, Newcastle’s inaugural New Annual festival, and the Melbourne Recital Centre. Regular guest artist for Canberra International Music Festival, Sally curated and performed in the Art Gallery of New South Wales’ 150th Anniversary concert, toured with the ACO for ‘The Crowd and I’ and the Australian Romantic and Classical Orchestra. The 2023 season includes Adelaide’s Illuminate Festival with Klassik Underground, Four Winds Festival, Canberra International Music Festival and Salut! Baroque, Bowral Autumn Music Festival and Elder Conservatorium’s Lunchtime Series (with pianist Vivian Choi Milton), concerts with harpist Emily Granger, and the release of a flute and harp album called ‘Something like this…’ (AVIE records) featuring Australian and other classic works by Mozart, Bach and Satie.
Inspired by social justice and outreach initiatives, in addition to her performances, Sally directs 1:1 Concerts in Australia, a concept of performance with one musician and one listener, two metres apart, in a wordless exchange. Created in Germany by flautist Stephanie Winker, set designer Franziska Ritter and cultural mediator Christian Siegmund, it is inspired by the work of performance artist Marina Abramović’s “Listening differently” (2019) and its many accolades include winning Germany’s Health:Angel award in the 2021 Health Media Awards. Responsible for bringing this unique concept to Australia, and its proliferation from Newcastle and Sydney to Canberra, Melbourne and showcased by Adelaide Festival in 2021, Sally continues to spearhead research into and the ongoing development of 1:1 Concerts locally, supporting Freelance Artist Relief Australia during the pandemic. She is also Ambassador of Symphony For Life Foundation, a not-for-profit organization (influenced by El Sistema) providing instruments, and the chance to learn and play music in a group, to disadvantaged children in Western Sydney.
Sally devotes herself to both Early and Contemporary Music, having performed with Early Music ensembles such as Das Neue Orchester Köln, Neues Bachisches Collegium Musicum and the Leipziger Kammerorchester and Contemporary Music ensembles such as Halcyon. She is deeply committed to chamber music and has collaborated with colleagues across various art forms and styles, including Tamara Anna-Cislowska, Aiko Goto, David Greco, Steven Isserlis, Afro Moses, Ian Munro, Simon Tedeschi, Dénes Várjon, and the Shanghai string quartet.
She enjoys collaborating with composers and has premiered works by Australian composers: David Banney, Marian Budos, Andrew Chubb, Andrew Ford, Sally Greenaway, Daniel Rojas, Paul Stanhope as well as Coco Nelegatti (Argentina), Afro Moses (Ghana) and Knut Müller (Germany). She has a long-standing collaborative relationship with composer Elena Kats-Chernin and in 2015, commissioned Kats-Chernin to write her a flute concerto. With assistance from the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body, “Night and Now” Flute Concerto was premiered with the Darwin Symphony conducted by Matthew Wood and has been performed a number of times subsequently, including at both the Australian and Swedish Flute Festivals. The appeal of this concerto continues in its new arrangement with string quartet, premiered by Omega Ensemble.
Sally has featured on the ACO’s new Beethoven and ARIA award-winning Mountain albums, Heroines with Nicole Car, Mozart’s Last Symphonies, Omega Ensemble’s Unexpected News (2020) with Nico Muhly and Phillip Glass, and ABC Classics’ Women of Note series. She has recorded three albums of flute and piano repertoire with pianist Philip Mayers, was featured on Sally Whitwell’s Aria-nominated CD, “I was Flying”, Cyrus Meurant’s CD “Monday to Friday” and on recordings with Halycon, and other orchestras.
As well as a performance career she works as an academic and has presented at the Performing Wellness and Musicological Society of Australia conferences, given pre-concert talks for the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Musica Viva and worked as a German translator/interpreter.
Born in Canberra, Sally began her earliest musical training with Judith Clingan on recorder through the Kodály method and singing in Gaudeamus choral ensembles. She was accepted into the ANU School of Music at the age of twelve and completed the ANU Preparatory Course Diploma learning flute with Vernon Hill and Virginia Taylor. She graduated with a Bachelor of Music Degree from the University of Sydney studying flute with Geoffrey Collins and undertook private study with Timothy Hutchins in Canada. She completed Postgraduate study in Germany, receiving the Artist’s Diploma from the Hanover Hochschule für Music und Medien as a student of Prof. Andrea Lieberknecht and her Masters at the Munich Hochschule für Musik und Theater as a student of Prof. András Adorján. She holds a Doctor of Musical Arts with the Early Music Unit of the University of Sydney, exploring a modern Flautist’s Perspective on the Process of Learning Early Flutes and their Literature, supervised by Neal Peres Da Costa, Alan Maddox and Hans-Dieter Michatz.
Sally Walker is proud to volunteer her time for Symphony for Life as its new Ambassador, supporting the organisation’s aims to provide an opportunity for children in Western Sydney to learn a string instrument and make music in a highly engaging community setting. Read more here.
“velvety tones … Walker’s control in the work was astounding … The professionalism and passion played in this work was mirrored in every piece performed. This was a concert that will stay long in the memory of everyone who attended.”
– Canberra City News, Nov 2020 (live review, performance with Simon Tedeschi)
- “a fine showcase for Sally Walker’s charismatic performance.”Limelight Magazine, Feb 2021live review, with Omega Ensemble, Sydney Opera House Utzon Room
- "Sally Walker is, I believe, Australia’s best flautist.”Sounds Like Sydney, Jun 2021live review, performance with Simon Tedeschi
- "Walker’s fast runs in the third movement were even and smooth, adding a delightful lightness.”Limelight Magazine, May 2021live review, Canberra International Music Festival
- “velvety tones… Walker’s control in the work was astounding… This was a concert that will stay long in the memory of everyone who attended.”Canberra CityNews, Nov 2020live review, performance with Simon Tedeschi
- “ornately expressive”Sydney Morning Herald
- “comely, rounded-edged flute tone”Sydney Morning Herald