Sarah Koo

FAIRBANKS — Renowned cello soloist Sarah Koo is coming to Fairbanks as part of a program through the Folk School and has been offering workshops and concerts this week.

Koo has an undergraduate and masters degree from Julliard, where she won the William Schumann Award for outstanding achievements in music, academics and leadership. Koo’s solo career started in 2000 at Carnegie Hall, when she became the youngest winner of the Artists International Competition.

Since then, she has toured Europe playing with the Symphonica Toscanini. Koo also played with the Phoenix Symphony as assistant principal cellist.

The Folk School decided to bring Koo up to work with students in Fairbanks because of her background of bringing music into schools and awards Koo has won for community outreach, said Rebecca Levey of the Folk School. 

Koo is an avid music outreach advocate. She worked as a teaching artist with the New York Philharmonic to bring music education into New York public schools. When Koo was working with the Phoenix Symphony, she taught in a music outreach program at the Salt River Indian Reservation High School.

While visiting Alaska, Koo has working with students at West Valley High School, as well as the Folk School. Koo has also been helping coach students as a part of the UAF Fall Fling, a program that teaches students who play string instruments and piano how to play in smaller ensembles, such as chamber music groups.

“Fairbanks has quite the cello community,” Levey said. The Folk School wanted to highlight that.

The school has brought up specialists to do workshops with students before. They worked with a birch bark specialist recently, Levey said. Koo will be the first musician the Folk School has worked with. Levey hopes they will be able to bring up more musicians in the future.

“This is kind of a pilot program,” Levey said. If all goes well, the Folk School will try to bring up more musicians in the future. They’re already working with an instructor to bring up in the spring.

To end her week, Koo will give a recital on Friday night at 7 p.m. in the Davis Concert Hall. Admission is free.

Elika Roohi is a senior in the journalism department at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.