Sarah Watts studied clarinet at the Royal Academy of Music with Angela Malsbury and Victoria Soames Samek (bass clarinet). Sarah then decided to specialise in the bass clarinet and continued her studies at the Rotterdam Conservatorium bass clarinet with Henri Bok, funded by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust and a Leverhulme Trust Studentship. Sarah was awarded the Exxon prize for the best classical music student in Rotterdam.
Successes include : Winner, UK Howarth Clarinet Competition 2000; Winner, Hawkes Clarinet Prize (RAM) 2001; Winner, Sir Arthur Bliss Chamber Music Prize (RAM) 2000; Winner of wind section and Faber Prize, UK Performing Australian Music competition, 2001 (her clarinet and bass clarinet recital was broadcast on ABC radio); Finalist, Wind section, Royal Overseas League Competition 2000. Sarah has performed clarinet concertos with the Royal Academy of Music Sinfonia, European Union Youth Wind Orchestra and the Nottingham Orchestra of the Restoration.
Sarah specialises on the bass clarinet and contrabass clarinet and has gained an international reputation as an artist, teacher and researcher on the low instruments. She has performed solo repertoire across the UK, Ireland, Asia, Europe and the Americas and has attracted composers including Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Piers Hellawell and William Sweeney to write works for her.
Sarah teaches bass clarinet at the Royal Northern College of Music. She is Director of Music Performance and Director of MA Performance at Sheffield University. Sarah hosts bass clarinet and clarinet courses on the Isle of Raasay in Scotland and runs and tutors on other wind chamber music courses in the UK and France. Sarah has given workshops on bass clarinet technique at many establishments including the Royal Academy of Music, Trinity College of Music, The Royal Welsh College of Music, The Royal Northern College of Music, The Royal Irish Academy of Music, Keele University and Edinburgh University.
Sarah performs with Hard Rain Ensemble, rarescale and SCAW.
Sarah has completed a PhD in bass clarinet multiphonic analysis at Keele University and has published ‘Spectral Immersions; A Comprehensive Guide to the Theory and Practice of Bass Clarinet Multiphonics’ via Metropolis publishers. In July 2018, she released her latest CD of Strauss, Beethoven and Glinka with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and pianist Martin Roscoe on Hyperion records.
Sarah is a Selmer artist, a Vandoren UK artist and a Silverstein Ligature artist.
In 2016, she was made an associate of the Royal Academy of Music, London.