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.”
The 2013 winner of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award, Snider has received commissions and performances internationally from artists including ACME, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Cantus, Colin Currie, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Ensemble Signal, Firebird Ensemble, Hebrides Ensemble (Scotland), the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (CA), the Knights, the North Carolina Symphony, NOW Ensemble, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Psappha (U.K.), Roomful of Teeth, Shara Worden, Volti, yMusic, and many others. Heard regularly in a diversity of stylistic venues (Carnegie Hall to The Kitchen to The Bell House, to use New York examples), her works have also been featured in festivals such as Aspen, Ecstatic, Colorado, Sundance, BAM’s Crossing Brooklyn Ferry, Bang On a Can Summer, Liquid Music, MATA, Carlsbad, Look & Listen, 21C Liederabend, SONiC, New York Festival of Song, 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), and “a gorgeous piece of music [and] hauntingly vivid psychological portrait” (Pitchfork), Penelope was named No. 1 Classical Album of 2010 by Time Out New York and was named to dozens of other year-end lists internationally, including NPR, 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, 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 2014 Grammy-Award winning eponymous album by Roomful of Teeth, and the critically-acclaimed debut recording by yMusic.
Highlights of the 2013-2014 season include performances with the Residentie Orkest of The Hague under Andre dé Ridder, Zurich’s Apples and Olives Festival, the Utah Philharmonia/Shara Worden, and the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra; the world premiere and tour of a new vocal work, Psalm of the Soil, for Cantus; and the world premiere of Scenes from Unremembered for Volti and Sacra/Profana. 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, alongside chamber orchestra conducted by Edwin Outwater, and will release on New Amsterdam Records in Fall 2014. Other upcoming projects include commissions for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the North Carolina Symphony, the Princeton Symphony Orchestra (conductor Rossen Milanov), and a work for the Young People’s Chorus of New York.
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.