Sally Beamish


Sally Beamish was born in London. She began her career as a viola player with the Raphael Ensemble, Academy of St Martins and London Sinfonietta, before moving to Scotland in 1990 to focus on composition.

In 2018 she won the Award for Inspiration at the British Composer Awards, and in 2020 was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours.  She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and of the Kungliga Musikaliska Akadamien in Sweden.

Since returning to England, and to playing, she now combines composition with solo and chamber concerts, and a band specialising in popular songs.



Entitled ‘Inspiration’, Sally Beamish’s talk will cover the diversity of starting points for composition: animals and birds, landscape and seascape, weather, story, dance, different genres of music, and the range of emotions and experience that may be communicated through music.

Giving an insight into her own journey and roots, Sally explains how music was her first language, and looks back on decisions she made and how some of these arose from unconscious bias she didn’t know she had.

An important theme is the 30 years she spent in Scotland, and how this shaped and informed her craft as a composer, leading to unexpected and challenging opportunities.

Her relationship with performance has led to many unusual collaborations and lasting bonds with other musicians, and she describes the insights arising from her return to viola playing, after a gap of 25 years.

View the lecture here

Sir Charles Wilson Building

Address: 1 University Avenue, Glasgow – at the corner of University Avenue and Gibson Street.

Access information –  here

This lecture theatre is very atmospheric, as you can see in the picture above. It has all modern facilities but retains many original features in a beautifully refurbished church building. There are good public transport links, free parking very close by in the University grounds from 5pm, plus nice places to eat or drink before the lecture if you want to make a night of it.

The venue has a hearing loop which can be accessed via a hearing aid. The best reception for the loop can be achieved by audience members sitting in one of the front six rows.

Learn more