Recently deemed “among the brightest lights to emerge in recent seasons” (Time Out New York) and “a potentially significant voice on the American music landscape” (Philadelphia Inquirer), composer Sarah Kirkland Snider writes music of direct expression and vivid narrative that has been hailed as “rapturous” (The New York Times), “haunting” (The Los Angeles Times), and “strikingly beautiful” (Time Out New York). With an ear for the poetic and a careful attention to detail, Snider’s music draws upon a variety of influences to prioritize nuanced and immersive storytelling. Of her 2010 song cycle, Penelope, Pitchfork writes: “Snider’s music lives in…an increasingly populous inter-genre space that, as of yet, has produced only a few clear, confident voices. Snider is perhaps the most sophisticated of them all.”
Her music has been commissioned and performed internationally by celebrated artists including ACME, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Cantus, Colin Currie, FearNoMusic, Firebird Ensemble, Hebrides Ensemble (Scotland), Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (Canada), the Knights, NOW Ensemble, Psappha (U.K.), Quatuor Bozzini (Canada), Roomful of Teeth, Signal, Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond), and yMusic, among others. Heard in a diverse array of venues ranging from classical (Carnegie Hall) to experimental (The Kitchen) to rock (The Bell House), Snider’s works have also been featured in festivals such as Aspen, Ecstatic, Colorado, Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Bang On a Can Summer, MATA, Carlsbad, Look & Listen, 21C Liederabend, SONiC, New York Festival of Song, Liquid Music, and the Keys to the Future Contemporary Piano Music.
On October 26, 2010, Snider released her first album, Penelope, a J. Paul Getty Center-commissioned song cycle with lyrics by playwright Ellen McLaughlin, featuring Shara Worden and Signal, conducted by Brad Lubman, on New Amsterdam Records. Acclaimed as “ravishingly melancholy” (The New York Times), “the year’s most affecting creation” (Time Out New York, No. 1 Classical Album of the Year), and “a gorgeous piece of music [and] hauntingly vivid psychological portrait” (Pitchfork), Penelope was named to dozens of year-end top-ten lists internationally, including NPR, Time Out New York, eMusic, textura, WNYC, Der Schallplattenmann sagt (Germany), Indie Rock Magazine (France) and The Huffington Post, who named “The Lotus Eaters” one of the Top Ten Alternative Art Songs of The Decade. Penelope also drew high praise from The Los Angeles Times, New York Magazine, The Believer, The Utne Reader, The Chicago Reader, The New Haven Advocate, Venus, New Music Box, Classical TV, Death and Taxes, and many others, with Pitchfork‘s Jayson Greene writing: “No matter what perspective you bring to this album, it bears profound rewards.” Snider’s music can also be found on the critically-acclaimed debut recordings by yMusic and Roomful of Teeth.
Highlights of the 2013-2014 season include the world premiere and tour of a new vocal work, Psalm of the Soil, for Cantus; the world premiere of Scenes from Unremembered for Volti; and performances with the Residentie Orkest of The Hague (conductor Andre de Ridder), the Utah Philharmonia, and the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra. Snider will also record her second full-length album, Unremembered, a 13-song cycle for seven voices and chamber orchestra about strange and beautiful happenings experienced during a childhood in rural Massachusetts, set to poetry by Nathaniel Bellows. Commissioned by Merkin Hall at the Kaufman Center for the Ecstatic Music Festival, which offered a live preview of the cycle with Orchestra for the Next Century in February 2013, Unremembered will feature vocalists Padma Newsome (of Clogs), D.M. Stith, and Shara Worden and will release on New Amsterdam Records in 2014. Other upcoming projects include a large orchestral commission for Princeton Symphony Orchestra (conductor Rossen Milanov); The Colorado, a large-scale multimedia project with filmmaker Murat Eyuboglu and composers John Luther Adams, William Brittelle, and Paola Prestini; and down the road, an orchestral song cycle for the Orchestra Engagement Lab.
In addition to her work as a composer, Snider is a passionate advocate for new music in New York and beyond. From 2001 to 2007, she co-curated the Look & Listen Festival, a new music series set in modern art galleries. Since 2007 she has served as Co-Director, along with William Brittelle and Judd Greenstein, of New Amsterdam Records, a Brooklyn-based independent record label recently called “the focal point of the post-classical scene,” (Time Out New York) and “emblematic of an emerging generation” (The New York Times), and praised for “releasing one quality disc after another” (Newsweek). In 2011, New Amsterdam created a separate, non-profit organization for its presenting work, entitled New Amsterdam Presents.
For 2013-2015, Snider, Brittelle, and Greenstein will work with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra in a unique two-year residency that will showcase composers and instrumentalists from the New Amsterdam community, as well as develop educational activities and community outreach programs that will bring the open-minded ethos of NewAm into direct engagement with the needs of the greater ISO community.
Born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, Snider has an M.M. and Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music and a B.A. from Wesleyan University. In 2006 she was a Schumann Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival. The recipient of numerous honors and distinctions for her music, she has studied with Martin Bresnick, Marc-Andre Dalbavie, Justin Dello Joio, Aaron Jay Kernis, Ezra Laderman, David Lang, and Christopher Rouse. She splits her time between New York and Princeton, where she lives with her husband, Steven, and their two young children. Her music is published by Good Child Music Publishing.