Sarah Cunningham began her viol studies in 1969 in Boston where as a young player she was described as "one of the most satisfying players of anything in the area." She then went on to work with Wieland Kuijken at the Royal Conservatory in The Hague. In 1981 she moved to London where she was active as a soloist and chamber musician and won world-wide recognition for her eloquent, expressive and communicative playing. She was a founder-member, with baroque violinist Monica Huggett, of the acclaimed Trio Sonnerie, with which she has made many recordings and toured on three continents.
In 1992 she was invited by flautist James Galway to collaborate on his recordings of Bach's chamber music for flute. Since then, in addition to two recordings for BMG Classics, she has performed with him in several highly successful American and European tours. As a soloist she has appeared at Festivals from Helsinki to London to Boston to Vancouver. Her CD of solo viol music, entitled Play this Passionate, was released in 1992 by Virgin Classics, coinciding with the re-release of her CD of music by Marin Marais on ASV. A second unaccompanied CD, Spirit of Gambo, was released in 1997 on the Swedish label, Seagull Records. These two solo recordings will be released this year as a double CD by Virgin/EMI.
Sarah is Artistic Director of the East Cork Early Music Festival and she has been the motivating force behind its organisation since the begining even though she herself is living in West Cork!
Since moving to West Cork, Ireland, in 1999, Sarah Cunningham has been in demand as a soloist and chamber musician throughout Ireland, appearing in Belfast, Sligo, Cork, Waterford, and Dublin, and on Lyric FM as artist of the week. In 2000-01 she toured in South America, Spain, Turkey, and Japan.
She held the professorship in viola da gamba at the Hochschule fuer Kuenste, Bremen from 1990-2000. She now teaches privately in London and Ireland, and gives courses and masterclasses in Sweden, Germany, Spain, Ireland, and the USA.
Sarah has a special interest in free improvisation: her five-year collaboration with dancer Tara Brandel has led to performances in West Cork and at the Model Arts Centre in Sligo. She has also worked with vocalist Nicole Sumner and with story-teller Laura Simms. Currently she is writing an historical novel set in 6th century Ireland.