Sarah Slean


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Signed to Atlantic/Warner Records at the tender age of 19, three-time Juno nominee and modern-day Renaissance woman Sarah Slean has since released 11 albums in over 10 countries worldwide – but perhaps the most astonishing aspect of her artistry is its breadth. Over her 20-year career, Slean has published two volumes of poetry, starred in short films and a movie musical (spawning two Gemini Award nominations), penned two string quartets, held numerous exhibitions of her paintings, and shared the stage with 10 of the country’s professional orchestras. Classically trained from the age of 5, she routinely collaborates with cutting-edge contemporary classical ensembles like The Art of Time, and has been invited to sing world premieres by Canada’s leading living composers. Citing such diverse influences as Leonard Bernstein, philosophy, Joni Mitchell, Buddhism and Bach, her music borrows aspects of cabaret, rock, pop, and orchestral: all knit together by the startling poetry of her lyrics, virtuosic piano-playing, and that voice, described by the CBC as “a 19th century Kate Bush”. In addition to headlining theatres across Canada, Sarah has also toured Europe, the US and Scandinavia and has opened internationally for such artists as Bryan Ferry, Rufus Wainwright, Alanis Morissette, Andrew Bird, Feist, Ron Sexsmith, Chris Isaak, and Buck 65. Metaphysics, her first recording in 5 years, is described as a breathtaking amalgamation of Slean’s dramatic orchestral arranging and her signature take on songwriting.

“”Metaphysics is a tour de force.””
– NUVO Magazine

“breathtakingly compelling, evocative and immersively lush new album…”
– Music Life Magazine

“Her songs are simple, poignant and utterly personal, infused with jazz, classical, pop and Latin influences. Sarah Slean’s classiness as a songwriter defies period and genre.”
– Musical Toronto

“Sweeping melodies create an emotional atmosphere that match the powerful lyrics.”
– Canadian Beats

“an awe-inspiring panorama of a mature poet and musician”
– The Toronto Star, on Land & Sea

“…this is Slean’s masterpiece.”
– The Montreal Gazette, on Land & Sea

“One of the most compelling acts Canada has to offer.”
– TIME magazine Canada

“An ambitious new double that soars”
– Maclean’s Magazine, on Land & Sea



Awards and Distinctions

  • Sirius XM Indie Award nom – Female Artist of the Year, 2013
  • JUNO Award nom – Best Adult Alternative Album, 2009
  • JUNO Award nom – Best Adult Alternative Album, 2004
  • JUNO Award nom – Best New Artist, 2002
  • GEMINI Award nom – Best Performance in a Performing Arts Series or Special, 2006
  • GEMINI Award nom – Best Performance in a Performing Arts Special, 2005
  • EYE magazine – Best Musician, 2006, 2005
  • NOW magazine – Best Songwriter, 2003, 2002, Best Female Vocalist, 2003

Work with Orchestras


  • Okanagan Symphony Orchestra
  • Niagara Symphony Orchestra
  • Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra


  • Recording with 13-piece string orchestra – Metaphysics (scored by Slean)


  • Regina Symphony Orchestra – with jazz great Mike Janzen
  • Saskatoon Symphony Orchestra – performing Lamento (Hatzis)
  • Calgary Philharmonic’s “Wild West New Music Ensemble” – performing Pierrot Lunaire (Schoenberg)
  • Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra – performing Ecstasy (co-composed by Slean/Hatzis)
  • Niagara Symphony Orchestra – performing Sea (Slean)
  • Windsor Symphony Strings – performing Sea (Slean)
  • Niagara Symphony Orchestra – performing Lamento (Hatzis)


  • Thunder Bay Symphony Orchestra – performing Sea (Slean) and Lamento (Hatzis)
  • Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra – with jazz great Mike Janzen
  • Quebec-wide tour with String Orchestra – performing Sea (Slean)


  • National Arts Centre Orchestra – performing Sea, other Slean arrangements for orchestra and choir, Ottawa
  • Orchestra London – performing Sea
  • ChamberFest – premiere of String Quartet No. 2 (Slean), Ottawa
  • European tour with Cairn Quartet  – (Ireland, Scotland, Netherlands) and Firebyrd Quartet (France)


  • Canada-wide tour with String Orchestras – performing Slean
  • Niagara Symphony Orchestra – performing Slean material
  • TED Global 2012 with the Cairn Quartet – performing Slean material, Edinburgh
  • Symphony Nova Scotia – performing Sea (Slean) and premiering Lamento (Christos Hatzis), Halifax
  • 21 piece orchestra – Sea (Slean)


  • 21 piece orchestra – Sea (Slean) performance, Harbourfront Toronto
  • 21 piece orchestra – Sea (Slean) live recording, Toronto
  • NUMUS Orchestra – singing premiere of Glenn Buhr’s Red Sea
  • Art of Time Ensemble – singing and curating “Songbook 5”


  • Art of Time Ensemble – songwriter/arranger and singer “Abbey Road” 2009


  • Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra – singing Glenn Buhr’s Symphony No. 1
  • Art of Time Ensemble – singing and curating “Toronto Songbook


  • CBC Radio Orchestra – “Great Canadian Songbook” singing Joni Mitchell arr. for orchestra: Vancouver
  • Art of Time Ensemble – songwriter/arranger and singer “Inspiration Schubert


  • Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s “Sonic Bloom – singing songs (Slean) arranged for orchestra


  • Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s “Sonic Bloom – singing songs (Slean) arranged for orchestra


  • National Arts Centre Orchestra – singing (Slean), Governor General’s Awards: Ottawa (Gemini Nom.)

Special Appearances

  • TED Global 2012 with the Cairn Quartet, performing Slean material, Edinburgh, 2012
  • JUNO Awards Broadcast – singing a duet with Jim Cuddy, 2010
  • JUNO Awards “Songwriters in the Round” – singing Slean, 2009, 2003
  • ECMAs “Songwriters in the Round” – singing Slean, 2007
  • Opening internationally for Alanis Morissette, Rufus Wainwright, Feist, Daniel Lanois, Hawksley Workman, Chris Isaak, Andrew Bird, Sarah Harmer, Blue Rodeo, Hayden, Ariane Moffatt, Buck 65, Ron Sexsmith etc.
  • Toronto’s first Cabaret Festival – Featured Artist, 2010, 2008
  • Canadian Songwriter’s Hall of Fame Awards Gala – singing songs of inducted songwriters, 2007, 2005, 2003
  • Songwriters in the Round” – East Coast Music Awards, 2005.
  • Genie awards, 2004
  • Esther Honens International Piano Competition, Calgary, 2003, 2002
  • Idea City Conference, Toronto, 2002
  • Gemini awards, 2002

Film & TV Credits



  • “Personne Ne M’entend” – original song (Slean, Kobakov, Nadjiwon) for Cardinal on CTV, 2017
  • Canadian Film Centre Resident Composer, 2017
  • Passchendaele – feature film (performer, “After the War”), 2008
  • Regret – short film (synched string piece “Dark Room”), 2008
  • Canadian Idol – TV show (synched song “Sweet Ones”) 2007, 2008
  • Tales of the Baroness 3-part animated short with Nelson Chan (composer, story/screenwriter), 2007
  • Selling Innocence TV movie (synched song “Sweet Ones”), 2005
  • (Un)sister documentary short (synched song), 2003
  • Joyride – feature film (synched song “Weight”), 2001
  • Felicity – TV (synched song “Blue Parade”), 2001
  • Dawson’s Creek – TV (synched song “My Invtiation”), 2000
  • Party of Five – TV (synched song “Playing Cards with Judas”), 1999



  • Crimson Peak (dir. by Guillermo Del Torro) – feature film, 2014
    • Jessica Chastian’s piano-playing body double
  • The Translator (dir. by Sonya DiRenzo) – short film, 2010
  • Last Flowers (dir. by CJ Wallis) – short film, 2009
    • 2 Leo Award nominations for the film
  • Black Widow (Enigmatico Films) – movie musical, 2005
    • GEMINI Award nomination
    • 5 other GEMINI nominations for the film
    • Czech Crystal Award for Enigmatico Productions




  • String quartet arrangement for “Laser Beam” by Quote the Raven, 2018
  • Arranged strings for Scottish band Unkle Bob, 2012.
  • Arranged strings for the Song For Africa: Rwanda Rises Up charity album, 2010
  • “Arranging Strings” – article commissioned by Canadian Musician magazine, 2009
  • Composed “String Quartet No. 2” for Blue Ceiling Dance Co., 2009
  • Arranged strings for Hayden’s In Field & Town sessions, 2007
  • Arranged strings and horns on Hayden’s album Skyscraper National Park, 2003
  • Arranged strings on Howie Beck’s album, Howie Beck, 2003
  • Arranged strings/horns for all Sarah Slean recordings, 1997-2016


  • Arranged “O Snow” for full orchestra, Trent Severn and the Stratford Symphony, 2017
  • Arranged full orchestra and 75-piece choir scores for National Arts Centre Orchestra, 2013
  • Commissioned to write a piece Ensemble Made In Canada (featuring NACO soloists)


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