“I am fascinated with the notion that music, art, dance, and other art forms can spur action and awareness of environmental issues through powerful multivalent connections to the heart, mind, and spirit. As a musician, above all, I believe in the power of music to communicate as a unique language, an incomparable energy, on its own terms.”

Sara Fraker is a recipient of a 2017 Artist Research & Development Grant.

Artist Research and Development Grants are designed to support the advancement of artistic research, aid in the development of artistic work and recognize the contributions individual artists make to Arizona’s communities. For more information about the Artist Research & Development Grant, click here.

Sara Fraker will commission, perform, and record a new piece of music inspired by Robin Wall Kimmerer’s book, Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants (Milkweed Editions, 2013). Composer Asha Srinivasan will create a musical work for oboe, natural sounds, and electronics. Fraker will present this work at several high-profile performances during Spring 2017. It will also be the centerpiece of her debut solo recording. Drawing upon ideas from the emerging field of ecomusicology, the project will explore the intersection of environmental sustainability, soundscape ecology, and musical performance.

The Braiding Sweetgrass project will be Fraker’s first commission.

“As a musician, the process of working with a living composer to create and shape an original work is an incredibly enriching experience that will spur me to explore the outer limits of my own technique and expressive potential,” said Fraker in her application. “We plan to incorporate spoken poetry into the score, giving me the opportunity to challenge myself in new ways as a performer.”


Sara Fraker has been a member of the Tucson Symphony Orchestra since 2005, is Assistant Professor of Oboe at the University of Arizona, and spends her summers in residence as a Faculty Artist at the Bay View Music Festival in northern Michigan. She is principal oboe of True Concord Voices & Orchestra, which recently made their Lincoln Center debut; the ensemble also garnered two Grammy nominations for their 2015 CD release “Far In The Heavens,” on which Fraker is a featured soloist. She has performed at numerous summer festivals including Tanglewood, Aspen, the Shenandoah Valley Bach Festival, Chautauqua, Spoleto Festival USA, and Schleswig-Holstein in Germany. She has played with the Phoenix Symphony, Arizona Opera, Broadway in Tucson, Music from Greer, and Sinfonia da Camera. She has also worked extensively as a Teaching Artist with the Opening Minds through the Arts Project in the Tucson public schools.

Fraker has presented recitals at four recent conferences of the International Double Reed Society, including Tokyo and New York City. In August 2015 she presented chamber music recitals in two additional Tokyo venues, the Kotoku Cultural Center and Tower Hall Funabori. She performs regularly as a member of the Arizona Wind Quintet and has given masterclasses at universities and performing arts schools across the US and in Australia. As oboist of the Bay View Wind Quintet, Fraker concertizes throughout the summer and coaches chamber music for
the eight-week Bay View Wind Institute.

Raised in New Haven, Connecticut, Dr. Fraker is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (DMA), New England Conservatory (MM), and Swarthmore College (BA). Her principal teachers include Robert Botti, John Dee, Mark McEwen, Jonathan Blumenfeld, Sandra Gerster Lisicki, and John de Lancie. Her doctoral thesis, “The Oboe Works of Isang Yun,” explores 20 solo and chamber pieces by the Korean composer, with a focus on tonal language and relationships to East Asian philosophy.