Sara Kirkland Snider ~ Composer of Music

Birmingham Royal Ballet Commission Announced!

November 24th, 2017

Excited to announce that Sarah will be writing a 3o-minute ballet with choreographer George Williamson for the Birmingham Royal Ballet, to premiere at Sadler’s Wells Theatre in London, England, on June 15, 2018.

The full press release:

Birmingham Royal Ballet, in association with Sadler’s Wells, is pleased to announce the first three choreographers and first two composers commissioned as part of Ballet Now  a unique five-year programme of professional development for choreographers, composers and designers funded by Oak Foundation.

What is Ballet Now?Ballet Now will create two new one-act ballets per year for five years, each with a choreographer, composer and designer who are creating their first dance piece for a large company on a large stage. In total 30 artists will collaborate on these new works, helping to grow the pool of artistic talent available to ballet companies world-wide. This not only guarantees ten new ballets for Birmingham Royal Ballet’s dancers to perform, and for the Company’s audiences to see, but it offers those 30 artists an individual mentoring plan, a budget for their work and a level of creative support that they will not previously have experienced.

This ground-breaking initiative has been developed and overseen by a Creative Consortium; a panel of experts drawn from across the world of ballet, supporting the selection of creative talent, as well as overseeing mentoring opportunities and the on-going success of the programme.

The Consortium consists of David Bintley  (Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet), Alistair Spalding  (Sadler’s Wells Artistic Director and Chief Executive), Sally Beamish  (Composer), Ted Brandsen  (Director, Dutch National Ballet), Sally Cavender  (Director, Performance Music and Vice-Chairman, Faber Music), Koen Kessels  (Music Director, Birmingham Royal Ballet), Cassa Pancho  (Artistic Director, Ballet Black), Emma Southworth  (Studio Programme Senior Producer, The Royal Ballet).

Who will be part of the programme?The first three Ballet Now choreographers are George WilliamsonJuanjo Arqués and Didy Veldman. The first two Ballet Now composers are Sarah Kirkland Snider (working alongside George Williamson) and Gabriel Prokofiev (working with Didy Veldman). These artists have been selected by the Creative Consortium because of the originality, insight and world-class potential shown in their previous work. Ballet Now will give them the opportunity to challenge their choreographic practice and work on the largest scale, whilst leading a creative process in a major ballet company.

Abigail Reeve, producer of Ballet Now, commented: 

Ballet Now is a unique programme of development and new work that Birmingham Royal Ballet is delighted to be launching in association with Sadler’s Wells. Its aim is to develop the next set of creative voices for the dance world. Our first three choreographers commissioned through the programme bring with them fresh outlooks and ideas which will excite audiences across the world.’


The Ballet Now programme will also support one designer per commission; further details will be announced in 2018.The first Ballet Now commission, choreographed by George Williamson, will be performed as part of the In the Upper Room mixed programme at Sadler’s Wells (16-17 June 2018) and Birmingham Hippodrome (20-23 June 2018).

The Blue Hour: World Premiere and Tour

November 20th, 2017

A Far Cry, photographed in South Boston, MA, USA on Tuesday, September 29, 2015. (Photo by Yoon S. Byun)



It was magical to bring The Blue Hour to life a couple weeks ago. The work premiered at Washington Performing Arts in Washington, D.C., and from there began a U.S. tour. The piece received rave reviews from The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Boston Musical Intelligencer, and I Care If You Listen. From the A Far Cry website:

The Blue Hour features Grammy-winning singer Luciana Souza in a song cycle written by a collaborative of five leading composers – Rachel GrimesAngélica Negrón, Shara NovaCaroline Shaw, and Sarah Kirkland Snider. The text that serves as the libretto is by 2017 Windham-Campbell Prize winner Carolyn Forché. The excerpted poem, “On Earth,” is from Forché’s 2003 collection Blue Hour. The remarkable poem takes the form of an abecedarium: a listing of images, thousands of them, in alphabetical order, like a flurry of memories from a life coming to its end.

A Far Cry and the composers collaborated through ongoing communication and artist retreats. Mirroring A Far Cry’s democratic creative process, the composers worked together to develop the text adaptation from Forché’s poem for this musical setting, maintaining the abecedary form. While each composer created individual songs, they also worked together on instrumental transitions, refrains, and musical themes to create a continuous, integrated work.

A group of Criers (A Far Cry musicians) first met with the composers in July 2016 to begin work on the project. Everyone agreed that the new work should be as collaborative as possible. The composers wanted the freedom to create individual songs on their own, yet they also wanted to immerse themselves in the collective process to sculpt the larger experience with each other and with the orchestra. The Criers will also embody a dynamic link between the music and text, including passages of spoken word and stage choreography, possibly reciting poem fragments in the concert space as the audience enters.

Luciana Souza, vocalist

The group has also talked a great deal about structure: the orderly alphabetical structure of the poem juxtaposed with the nonlinear narrative of the subject’s life, remembered haphazardly, but gradually coming into focus. Scale then becomes a critical element, considering the enormity of the poem, making it possible to zoom in on a single image, but also to zoom out and see thousands. That sense of dimension – from the micro to the macro – will be a core guiding principle for the eventual work.

Finally, at the meeting in July, the group asked themselves, “Why do this project? What does it represent?” and from that, the following statement emerged:

“In a time when we are seeing masses of people dehumanized – by war, displacement, poverty – we are looking here at a single life, the beautiful detail of one human existence. There is something precious in that; that through our sense of empathy with this one individual, we are given a lens through which to see our own world with greater clarity.

— A Far Cry

The world premiere of the work will be presented by co-commissioner Washington Performing Arts in Washington, DC on November 4, 2017. The other co-commissioners are Bucknell UniversityUniversity of Iowa’s Hancher Performances, and Florida State University.

National Symphony Orchestra Will Perform Excerpt from SOMETHING FOR THE DARK

November 1st, 2017

The National Symphony Orchestra has added a concert to their calendar with conductor Edwin Outwater, in which they will perform an excerpt from Sarah’s SOMETHING FOR THE DARK, the piece commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra for the Elaine Lebenbom Award. The concert will take place at January 6 at the Kogod Courtyard at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Composer Residency at Bowling Green State University New Music Festival

October 20th, 2017

Sarah was honored to be Co-Composer-in-Residence (along with her husband, composer Steven Mackey) at the 38th Annual Bowling Green New Music Festival. Here’s a quote from her Facebook post about the event. (You can check out her Instagram or Facebook page for more pictures and details.):

“Wow. What a spectacular week at The 38th Annual Bowling Green New Music Festival! Met so many wonderful new friends, heard a lot of inspiring new music, was indulged with absurdly good performances of my own music, and felt my heart grow larger with the utter joy that is making and talking music with good people. So much gratitude to the indefatigable Kurt Doles and the MidAmerican Center for Contemporary Music for inviting Steven and me to be Co-Composers-in-Residence; to Christopher Dietz for conducting the Bowling Green New Music Ensemble and Shara Nova in ‘Unremembered’; to Latitude 49 for the astonishing performances of my chamber works; to Brian Snow, for the exquisite performance of my solo cello piece; to Emily Freeman Brown, for giving such a robust, vibrant performance of my ‘Something for the Dark’ with the BGSU Philharmonia Orchestra; and to Marilyn ShrudeMikel Kuehn, and Elainie Lillios for running one of the best new music programs in the world. We can’t say enough good things about BGSU College of Musical Arts! Congratulations to all of you!”

Featured in The Washington Post’s “Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music”

August 8th, 2017

Sarah was recently featured in Anne Midgette of The Washington Post‘s “Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music.” Anne writes:

“NPR’s recent list of the 150 greatest albums by women was inspiring — but where were the composers? In the wake of much discussion about the chronic underrepresentation of female composers on American concert programs, I came up with my own best-of list. Since I was responding to a list of recordings, I confined myself to artists active in the recorded music era, the 20th and 21st centuries — leaving out Hildegard von BingenFanny MendelssohnClara Wieck SchumannBarbara StrozziMarianne Martinez, and many others. My selections are based on a combination of personal preference and some idea of what constitutes “importance,” and it was hard to winnow it down to only 35.”

You can read the article here.

Essay for NewMusicBox

May 20th, 2017

I recently wrote an essay for NewMusicBox, entitled “Candy-Floss and Merry-Go-Rounds: Female Composers, Gendered Language, and Emotion.” You can read it here.

Detroit Symphony Orchestra to Perform SOMETHING FOR THE DARK at League of American Orchestras 2017 Conference

May 1st, 2017

Detroit Symphony Orchestra, under the baton of Leonard Slatkin, has announced their program for the League of American Orchestras conference on June 6. Along with works by Mason Bates, Mohammed Fairouz, Jonathan Bailey Holland, and Kurt Weill, they will perform Sarah’s Something for the Dark, the 12-minute work they commissioned in 2014 when they made Sarah the winner of their Elaine Lebenbom prize. The DSO premiered the work with conductor Giancarlo Guerrero in April 2015. This will be Maestro Slatkin’s first performance of the work.

Announcing THE BLUE HOUR

April 5th, 2017

We’re thrilled to announce The Blue Hour, a new evening-length work commissioned by string orchestra A Far Cry for its 11th season.

The Blue Hour features Grammy-winning singer Luciana Souza in a song cycle written by a collaborative of five leading composers – Rachel GrimesAngélica Negrón, Shara NovaCaroline Shaw, and Sarah Kirkland Snider. The text that serves as the libretto is by 2017 Windham-Campbell Prize winner Carolyn Forché. The excerpted poem, “On Earth,” is from Forché’s 2003 collection Blue Hour. The remarkable poem takes the form of an abecedarium: a listing of images, thousands of them, in alphabetical order, like a flurry of memories from a life coming to its end.

You can read more about the project here.

Chineke! Orchestra to Perform Excerpts from UNREMEMBERED at Classical NEXT

March 28th, 2017

The UK-based Chineke! Orchestra will perform excerpts from Sarah’s UNREMEMBERED at Classical NEXT, the international new music forum in Rotterdam, Holland, on May 17, 2017. The vocalist will be the US-born, Holland-based soprano, Nicole Jordan.

Interview on Knoxville’s WUOT Radio (audio)

March 22nd, 2017

Sarah sat down with Knoxville NPR-affiliate station WUOT in advance of the Big Ears performance of Unremembered. Morning Concert host, Melony Dodson, and Sarah have a frank conversation about this song cycle and her influences and compositional style but also discuss the evolution and progress of “classical music” as a genre, as well as challenges that she has encountered as a female composer.You can listen here.

copyright 2005 - 2018 Sarah Kirkland Snider. Site designed by Predella and built by