Dr Sally Walker

Doctor of Musical Arts (University of Sydney), Meisterklassendiplom (Hochschule für Musik und Theater, Munich), Künstlerische Ausbildung (Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover)
Senior Lecturer in Classical Performance (Woodwind)
ANU College of Arts and Social Sciences

Research interests

  • Orchestral Music
  • Chamber Music
  • Historical Performance Practice
  • Woodwind performance and pedagogy
  • Music Performance research
  • Performer/Composer collaborations
  • Arts/Health


Performer, academic and music educator Sally Walker is Lecturer in Classical Performance. Her research embraces historical performance practice, music/physiology and composer/performer collaborations. She has published in public-facing media as well as academic platforms. Sally's  Doctor of Musical Arts thesis (University of Sydney) explored developing fluency in switching between modern and historical flutes and she has presented related research at the International Symposium of Performance Science, International Conference on Baroque Music and the Musicological Society of Australia National Conference. New works developed through her collaborations with composers have been presented at the Swedish Flute Festival, Music and Spirituality Symposium and the MSA Symposium on Indigenous Music and Dance. Her creative practice includes recent critically acclaimed recitals with pianist Simon Tedeschi, productions with the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Omega Ensemble, Australian Romantic & Classical Orchestra and performances in major festivals. She is active in social projects including 1:1 CONCERTS (gaining a 5-star Limelight review), Equal Music, Symphony for Life Foundation with program outcomes presented in the International Karajan Symposium, UNSW Forces of Music Series and published in the International Journal of Community Music.

Researcher's projects

1:1 Concerts. (2019 - )

Sally Walker actively participates in socially driven projects including organising 1:1 CONCERTS in Australia (her series curated for the Adelaide Festival gained a 5-star Limelight review), teaching for the Equal Music program (Illumina Festival) and being Ambassador for the Symphony for Life Foundation and findings from these programs have been presented in the International Karajan Symposium, UNSW Forces of Music Series and published in the International Journal of Community Music.

How we need music has been made profoundly clear during the Pandemic. Balcony concerts, online lessons and home recordings prove that what is essential, adapts to survive.[1] Performing musicians exiled from concert halls due to social distancing policies have found new performance spaces that defy the corona crisis. Consequently, the 1:1 CONCERTS©[2] have flourished, inspired by the work of performance artist Marina Abramovic’s "Listening differently"[3]. The format involves one musician and one listener at a 2-metre distance, sharing a 10 minute non-verbal musical encounter that incorporates a minute’s eye contact with each other. The concert is facilitated by a host acting as the conduit between the listener and musician. In Australia 456 1:1 Concerts have taken place in 7 cities since mid 2019, in a variety of non-traditional concert venues, including the Australian bush, a painter’s kitchen and next to the Adelaide Oval Score board.

The study investigates the impact of these smallest of concerts on the listeners, musicians, and hosts, in both a festival and community setting. The study aimed to generate insights into the perspectives and experiences of the concert participants, with a view to better understanding the social and emotional impact of concerts, and to informing future innovations in live music performance models. The research paper (Grant, Loxley Slump, Walker) concluded that the model had significant potential to be used as a positive social intervention, such as in aged care, disability, and mental health contexts.

Grant, Catherine, Walker, Sally & Loxley Slump, Zoe (2022). 1:1 Concerts for a pandemic: Learnings from intimate musical encounters. International Journal of Community Music 15(2), 193-209. DOI: 10.1386/ijcm_00059_1 https://www.intellectbooks.com/international-journal-of-community-music.

Walker, S. K. A., Grant, C. and Loxley Slump, Z. (2021) The social impact of 1:1 Concerts in Australia, Montréal (Canada): International Symposium of Performance Science.

Walker, S. K. A. (2021). 1:1 CONCERTS [curator], Adelaide: Adelaide Festival.

Walker, S.K.A “The C21st Flautist, reimagined in light of being a Covid Concert Hall refugee” in UNSW Forces in Music curated by Lifschitz, S. Sydney https://vimeo.com/442874318.

Walker, S. K. A. (2020). 1:1 Concerts: A diaspora of Concert Hall Refugees find new performance spaces. Sydney: Musicological Society of Australia conference.

Ritter, F and Walker, S. K. A. (2021). 1:1 CONCERTS Simple musical encounters build strong communities. Berlin (Germany): Karajan Music Tech Conference.


[1] Sally Walker, “From Dystopia to Utopia; Hotteterre and Imagination in the time of Covid-19”, From Isolation to Inspiration, edited by Elizabeth Koch AM. (Adelaide: University of Adelaide, 2020). https://rsha.cass.anu.edu.au/news/dystopia-utopia-hotteterre-and-imagination-time-covid-19

[2] 1:1 Konzerte, accessed August 27. 2020. http://1to1concerts.de/en/11-concerts-english/

[3] Marina Abramovic, A Different way of hearing: the Abramovic Method for Music. Accessed August 15, 2020. https://www.alteoper.de/pdf/de/programm/aof_anders-hoeren_EN.pdf?m=15205...



Boccherini's Gold (2022-)

Boccherini’s Gold is an ongoing project by Sally Walker. Focussing on the seldom performed/recorded but wonderfully inventive chamber works of Luigi Boccherini for flute, the project has incorporated private recording preview concerts at the Adelaide Baroque Hall prior to its public opening with Boccherini’s Opus 19 Quintets (G. 425 – 430) for Flute, 2 Violins, Viola and Cello his Quintet in C (no Opus or G. [Gerard] number) for Flute, Oboe, Violin, Viola and Cello and his Notturno (Sestetto no. 1) in Eb, G. 467 for Oboe or Flute, Bassoon, Horn, Violin, Viola and Double Bass. These same works were recorded at the North Adelaide Baroque Hall on January 21st – 27th, 2023 with Flute – Sally Walker, Oboe - Celia Craig, Bassoon - Mark Gaydon, Horn - Sarah Barrett, Violin - Elizabeth Layton, Violin - Alison Rayner, Viola - Stephen King, Cello - Thomas Marlin, Double Bass - Robert Nairn, Sound - Kyron Audio, Producer - Lachlan Bramble. The existing editions pose many dilemmas: discrepancies in Opus numbers, interpretative questions of terms and engrossing musical decisions to be made.



Kats-Chernin “Night and Now” Concerto: Composer/performer collaboration resulting in a new creative work (2015 – 2021).

Through their long-standing collaborative partnership, Dr Sally Walker has commissioned and premiered many new works of composer Elena Kats-Chernin, the largest scale work being Night and Now Flute Concerto, premiered by the Darwin Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Matthew Wood and Walker as soloist in 2015. It has since been performed by Walker in Hamer Hall (Melbourne), The Concourse Chatswood (Sydney), Queensland Performing Arts Centre (Brisbane), Townsville Civic Theatre and Newcastle Town Hall. In 2016, a piano reduction of the orchestral part was made by the composer, and Walker premiered this at the 2016 Swedish Flute Festival and the 2017 Australian Flute Festival.

In 2021, Kats-Chernin made an arrangement of this concerto for flute and string quartet for the Omega Ensemble, commissioned with support by the Stanley Family. Flute Quintet ‘Night and Now’ for flute and string quartet (2021) had its world premiere at the Newcastle City Hall as part of the 2021 (inaugural) New Annual Festival, with Walker as soloist and further performances in the Melbourne Recital Centre and the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre in Penrith.

It follows the traditional form in being in three movements and at the commissioning performer’s request, takes aspects of the Russian personality and character, as well as a timbral exploration of the flute. The composer wrote “The timbre and sonorities of the flute itself offer much variation to the composer. It can be brilliant, shrill and scurrying, or whispering and mellow. The flute can draw sharp or soft lines. It can be rich, or mystical, or virtuosic, penetrate a full sound or sigh into the texture.” As a result, the concerto begins slowly and in over-overlooked low register of the instrument.

The process of composition was highly interactive with numerous re-drafts, even after the premiere. “Sally often hears sketches of my work as I’m writing them and she has great insight into my processes…we discussed how to emphasise the flute’s unique sound and capabilities.” The first movement is reminiscent of the Russian Orthodox church, with a heavy emphasis on Tubular Bells. The second movement begins in a neo-baroque style with an articulated fugue. The cadenza featured modern techniques such as pitch bending and flutter-tonguing and eventually arrives in C minor for the Tarantella of the final movement.

This project received funding from the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

Walker, S. K. A., Shiell, M., Zelman Memorial Symphony Orchestra (2015) Night and Now Flute Concerto [Live Performance, World Premiere] in Darwin Symphony Orchestra’s Master Series: Night and Now. Darwin (Australia): Darwin Convention Centre.

Walker, S. K. A., Wood, M., Darwin Symphony Orchestra (2015) Night and Now Flute Concerto [Live Performance, World Premiere] in Darwin Symphony Orchestra’s Master Series: Night and Now. Darwin (Australia): Darwin Convention Centre.

Performances of this work

26 Mar 2021: at Omega Ensemble: Night and Now (Melbourne Recital Centre, Primrose Potter Salon). Featuring Omega Ensemble.

27 Feb 2021: at Omega Ensemble: Night and Now (Sydney Opera House, Utzon Room). Featuring Omega Ensemble.

26 Feb 2021: at Omega Ensemble: Night and Now (Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre). Featuring Omega Ensemble.

20 Feb 2021: at Omega Ensemble: Night and Now (Newcastle City Hall). Featuring Omega Ensemble.

26 May 2018: at Queensland Youth Symphony – Undercurrents (QPAC Concert Hall). Featuring John Curro, Queensland Youth Orchestra, Sally Walker.

28 Oct 2017: at Barrier Reef Orchestra Evening Serenade (Townsville Civic Theatre). Featuring Barrier Reef Orchestra, Mark Shiell, Sally Walker.

17 Sep 2017: at Babi Yar - Shostakovich, Sdraulig, Kats-Chernin (Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne). Featuring Mark Shiell, Sally Walker, Zelman Symphony Orchestra.

17 Sep 2016: at Newcastle Youth Orchestra: New Frontiers (Harold Lobb Concert Hall, Newcastle Conservatorium of Music). Featuring Sally Walker, Mark Shiell, Newcastle Youth Orchestra.

Night and now : for flute and orchestra, piano reduction [eScore] / Elena Kats-Chernin.

by Elena Kats-Chernin (2015)



1 July 2017: (flute and piano version) at Australian Flute Festival (Queensland Conservatorium of Music Concert Hall, Griffith University, Brisbane). Featuring Sally Walker and Gabriella Pusner.

9 April 2016: (flute and piano version) at The Swedish Flute Festival. Featuring Sally Walker and Timothy Carey. Uppsala University Concert Hall, Uppsala, Sweden.


Music and the Mind (2018-2019).

This project was led by Dr Sally Walker, together with Prof. Eckart Altenmüller (Director of the Music Medicine Institute, Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media) and Ass. Prof. Bronwen Ackermann (University of Sydney), as well as organist Peter Guy and composer Elena Kats-Chernin. The creative output was a lecture/recital “Music and the Mind” and was presented in both Newcastle and Canberra. In the Newcastle Twilight Musical Dialogues series, itofficially opened the Music and the Mind weekend; a co-production with HMRI, University of Newcastle, Christ Church Camerata and Twilight Musical Dialogues. Amidst a “music and medicine” derived musical program and music and the mind lecture, the lecture-recital utilised a screened real-time X-ray visualisation of Walker playing the flute while wearing carefully placed electrodes, using myoMOTION™ software, which features a medically accurate avatar automatically synchronising real-time data. Although the data can be used to detail human movement, the visual effect in the performance was that of a skeleton playing the flute. Given this humorous theme, Walker commissioned Elena Kats-Chernin to write “Apollo’s Gift” (for flute with skeletal visualisation and organ) which referenced various ‘dansemacabres’ from Berlioz, Paganini, Saint-Saëns, Mussorgsky and Liszt.

This project received funding from ANU Visiting Fellow Grant (2018).

Altenmüller, E. and Walker, S. K. A. (2019). Apollo’s Gift: Music and the Mind [lecture-recital]. Canberra: Larry Sitsky Recital Room, Australian National University.

Walker, S. K. A., Altenmüller, E. A. and Ackermann, B. A. (2018). Twilight Musical Dialogues: Music and the Mind [Lecture-recital] in HMRI Music and the Mind Symposium. Newcastle, Adamstown Uniting Church.

Kats-Chernin, E., Walker, S. K. A., Guy, P. (2018). Apollo’s Gift (for flute and skeletal visualisation) [musical composition, world premiere]. Newcastle: Adamstow


Current student projects

Phd Candidate - Jennifer Brian

"Breathing new life into old flutes: investigating the impacts of playing historic flutes on their sound, structure and significance"


This research will investigate how the playing of historic flutes impacts their sound, structure and significance in order to determine how their tangible and intangible meanings may be most effectively preserved. Research abounds on the use of musical instruments in collections[i] [ii], particularly research into violins[iii] and other woodwinds[iv] [v].  Many collections of instruments are used regularly, including at the Royal Academy of Music[vi], the Musée de la Musique[vii] and the Hornimann Museum[viii] whilst historic strings regularly grace concert halls with their voices[ix] [x].  Yet understanding the use of historic flutes remains largely absent from the literature.  This research seeks to address that gap by comprehensively understanding the significance of flutes in collections, quantifying the impacts of playing them on their physical structure and acoustic resonance and determining if these impacts affect their significance.  This research seeks to develop a framework for the conservation, recording and preservation of data around their use, enabling caretakers to move forward with more confidence in ensuring the preservation of the tangible and intangible meanings of historic flutes.

The ethical justification for the appropriate use of historic musical instruments in collections has been discussed for many years[xi] [xii], as has the importance of the preservation of the physical and acoustic integrity of historic musical instruments[xiii] However, literature concerning the use of historic flutes remains absent. What then is the physical, cultural or acoustic justification for historic flutes largely remaining silent? The early and traditional music scenes thrive, driving interest in playing and replicating early instruments[xiv] [xv], while Lizzo’s use of a crystal flute by Charles Laurent has reignited popular passion for historic flute collections[xvi]. Thus, it is time for a deeper understanding of how use affects historic flutes, in the hope that we may hear them sing again. 

To succeed, this research requires an interdisciplinary approach, involving musicians, makers, conservators, museum professionals, Computerised Tomography (CT) scanning and acoustic physicists alongside digital preservation experts. It aims to effect change around the use of historic flutes in museums if it is safe and ethical to do so, aligning flute management with the treatment of other instruments and functional objects.


[i] Rognoni, ‘Preserving Functionality: Keeping Artifacts “Alive” in Museums’.

[ii] Ramey, Corinne, ‘Touchy Questions for a Museum’s Rare Instrument Collection’.

[iii] ‘How Do Violins Change with Playing and Environmental Changes over Time?’

[iv] Young, Christina RT and Rossi Rognoni, Gabriele, ‘Playing Historical Clarinets: Quantifying the Risk.’

[v] Stein, Ilona, ‘Humidity in Woodwind Instruments Due to Playing: Effects and Risks for the Wooden Structure’.

[vi] ‘Academy Collections - Strings Gallery’.

[vii] ‘Conservation and Research | Philharmonie de Paris’.

[viii] ‘Hear It Live!’

[ix] ‘Which Performers Currently Own Stradivarius Violins and How Much Are They Worth?’

[x] ‘Our Instruments’.

[xi] Lamb, Andrew, ‘To Play or Not to Play: The Ethics of Musical Instrument Conservation’.

[xii] Barclay, Robert, The Preservation and Use of Historic Musical Instruments: Display Case and Concert Hall.

[xiii] Barclay, Robert et al., ‘Recommendations for the Conservation of Musical Instruments: An Annotated Bibliography’.

[xiv] Kenyon, Nicholas, ‘Bach to the Future: How Period Performers Revolutionised Classical Music’.

[xv] O’Connell, Pet, ‘John McKenna’s Magic Flute Revived in Cúil Aodha’.

[xvi] Slayton, April, ‘It’s About (Danged) Time: Lizzo at the Library!’



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