Biography

“A profoundly gifted and innovative flutist” (Pittsburgh in the Round), Zoe Sorrell is a soloist, educator, chamber collaborator, and entrepreneur based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She is passionate about redefining what it means to be a classical musician in the 21st century.

Zoe is currently on faculty at both Westminster College and Chatham University, where she teaches flute, ethnomusicology, music appreciation, and music entrepreneurship. She also maintains an active studio of both flute and piano students both privately and at the Winchester-Thurston School. Her teaching style is driven by her belief that music is a universal language that allows us to communicate across social and cultural boundaries and connects us to one another.

As a soloist and chamber musician, Zoe declared her arrival in Pittsburgh by winning both the Keynotes Scholarship Competition and the Pittsburgh Concert Society Major Artist Competition in 2016. In the same year, she founded NAT 28, the nonprofit contemporary music ensemble of which she is currently flutist and artistic director. Now entering its fourth year of operation, NAT 28 is one of the foremost contemporary music ensembles in Pennsylvania, championing a diverse program of repertoire by local and upcoming composers.  

Zoe’s Syrinx Project is a “modern classic” that has been described as “fresh and relevant” (Melissa Snoza, Fifth House Ensemble). The multidisciplinary commissioning series tells the stories of mythological women through lenses of contemporary feminism; Zoe combines flute playing with dance and poetry in order to bring her characters to life in an unprecedented way. The Syrinx Project was a featured performance at the Pittsburgh Festival of New Music 2016 and was named Best Music Production at the Pittsburgh Fringe Festival 2019. Excerpts from the Syrinx Project will be featured on Zoe’s upcoming solo album My Own Route, which be released in early 2020.

Zoe also specializes in Baroque and Renaissance flutes and her historical ensembles have performed around the United States at such events as the Kennedy Center’s Conservatory Project and the Boston Early Music Festival. She draws comparisons between Baroque and contemporary styles, both in their improvisatory nature and the role of the performer as part-composer, and describes her dual interests as “bookend music.”

Passionate about empowering musicians outside of the practice room, Sorrell offers personal and group coaching on such topics as social media management, branding, goal-mapping, website building, networking, and resume writing. She frequently works with students at summer chamber music programs on the importance of having an entrepreneurial mindset and has coached ensembles from string quartets to garage bands on the practices of branding and marketing themselves. Her online course, Idea Incubation for Classical Musicians, is the first of its kind to focus specifically on incubation for classical music.

Zoe is a product of Oberlin Conservatory and Carnegie Mellon University, where she received degrees in flute performance and English literature. Zoe currently lives in Avalon, PA with her partner Rich, kitties Merry and Pippin, and puppy Rupert. When she is not pursuing musical endeavors, Zoe loves to run races, practice yoga, and travel.