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), “culturally electric” (The Los Angeles Times), and “strikingly beautiful” (Time Out New York). Blending fastidious craft with a poetic, cosmopolitan sensibility, Snider’s music draws upon a variety of influences to prioritize nuanced and immersive storytelling.
She writes for varied instrumentation, from solo to orchestra, unaccompanied voice to choir. Her music has been commissioned and performed internationally by celebrated artists including ACME, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Colin Currie, Dinosaur Annex, Firebird Ensemble, Hebrides Ensemble, the Knights, NOW Ensemble, Psappha, 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), her 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, Bennington CMC, 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 “rapturous” (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 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, The Believer, The Utne Reader, New York Magazine, The Chicago Reader, The New Haven Advocate, Venus, New Music Box, Death and Taxes, Classical TV, and many others. Influential webzine 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: No matter what perspective you bring to this album, it bears profound rewards.”
Highlights of the 2012-2013 season include performances of Penelope featuring Shara Worden with the Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony of Ontario; the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra; FearNoMusic of Portland, OR; and yMusic as presented by The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and Walker Art Center, as well as the world premiere of The Currents, a solo piano work commissioned by the American Pianists Association. Snider will also record her second full-length album, Unremembered, a 14-song cycle about strange and beautiful happenings experienced during a childhood in rural Massachusetts, set to poetry by Nathaniel Bellows. Commissioned by the Merkin Hall at the Kaufman Center for the Ecstatic Music Festival, which will offer a live preview of the cycle with Orchestra for the Next Century in February 2013, Unremembered will feature seven vocalists, including Padma Newsome (of Clogs), D.M. Stith, and Shara Worden; chamber orchestra; and electronics. Other upcoming projects include works for all-male vocal ensemble Cantus, violist Nadia Sirota, pianist Michael Mizrahi, 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.
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.