Sally Beamish was born in London. Initially a viola player, she moved from London to Scotland in 1990 to develop her career as a composer. Her music embraces many influences: particularly jazz and Scottish traditional music. The concerto form is a continuing inspiration, and she has written for many soloists, including Tabea Zimmermann, Hí¥kan Hardenberger and Steven Isserlis.
Her music is performed and broadcast internationally, and since 1999 she has been championed by the BIS label, who have recorded much of her work. Recent commissions include Dance Variations: Percussion Concerto No 2, for percussionist Colin Currie, with the Bergen Symphony Orchestra, Scottish and Swedish Chamber Orchestras, and Stanford Lively Arts, California. Her string quartet for the Elias Quartet, Reed Stanzas, received its premiere at the 2011 BBC Proms, and won the 2011 RPS award in the Chamber-Scale Composition category.
Sally is the recipient of an honorary doctorate from the University of Glasgow, a Creative Scotland award, and the Paul Hamlyn Award. She is also a visiting lecturer at Leeds College of Music.