Sara Kirkland Snider ~ Composer of Music

Upcoming: EPIPHANY at BAM Next Wave Festival 2015

October 10th, 2015

32384-2015NWF-Image_Suites-Epiphany-613X463This happens in about a month. I’m looking forward to it! I think it’s safe to say you will have never seen anything like it.

“In an exuberant ode to life filled with live music, Epiphany sends its audience roaming through labyrinthine tunnels of video, light, and reflection to celebrate the ecstasies of existence. Around a monolithic installation, the Young People’s Chorus of New York City—joined by soulful Zimbabwean singer Netsayi—and ACME perform music by Paola Prestini, Netsayi,  and Sarah Kirkland Snider, backing surreal eight-channel video by Ali Hossaini. As 3D imagery pulsates with epic chronologies, Aztec, Zoroastrian, and Tibetan texts whirl in ritualistic constellations, merging with musical epiphanies that reveal the epic connectedness of all things.”

Epiphany: Nov. 11-14
BAM 2015 Next Wave Festival
Music by Paola Prestini, Netsayi, and Sarah Kirkland Snider
Libretto by Niloufar Talebi and Nathaniel Bellows
Film by Ali Hossaini
Directed by Michael McQuilken
Co-produced by VisionIntoArt and Young People’s Chorus of New York City
Developed at 3LD Art & Technology Center

Praise for HIRAETH

October 5th, 2015

North Carolina Symphony under Maestro Grant Llewellyn Performs HIRAETH

Critics have had some nice things to say about HIRAETH, Sarah’s new 30 minute work for full orchestra, which was co-commissioned and premiered by North Carolina Symphony on September 26, 2015.

Dan Ruccia of Indy Week writes:

“…For Snider, that lost homeland consists of memories of childhood visits to her grandparents in Salisbury, North Carolina, shot through with grief for her father, who died shortly after she started writing the piece. Unsurprisingly, the music is quite dark, though never grim. She achieves this effect in ways both obvious and subtle: large swaths of minor-key harmonies; well-placed bursts of dissonance or eerie drones that cut against the cheerier melodies; dense orchestral writing that feels heavy, like the humid summer air of her memories; and the overall architecture, which never quite functions how you expect.

For instance, the final build—a memorable passage with echoing, interlocking lines in the strings and brass over a simple melody in various lower voices, all buoyed by an insistent snare drum line—seems to gain momentum over a few minutes (or maybe more or less, as time flows in unusual ways through the piece), working toward some expected grand climax. But instead, at what could be a peak, the music dissipates into something much more somber, gradually dissolving into nothingness. One could make a case that this is a metaphor for loss, but that reading might be too heavy-handed. Overall, Snider’s command of the orchestra is fantastic, even if her colors are always highly saturated. It’s an engrossing composition that I look forward to hearing again.”

And Paul D. Williams of the Classical Voice of North Carolina writes:

“The featured work of the first half was the second in a series of three world premiere performances of Hiraeth, by the acclaimed young composer, Sarah Kirkland SniderHiraeth is a Welsh word that is said to depict “a feeling of homesickness for a land that never existed or one to which you can never return.” Although the thirty-minute work is not described as a tone poem, that would be a satisfying descriptor of the remembrances and the longing for the times the composer spent in North Carolina. Visual accompaniment for the piece was a large screen showing scenes of seemingly everyday life in small towns and pastoral areas, produced by Mark DeChiazza – small children playing, quotidian activities of a typical day. (In a few of the scenes, women were shown smoking cigarettes, a fact that is certain to elicit wrath from the usual scolds.) While these visuals projected a certain charm, it is not clear whether they constituted true ornamentation or a mere distraction.

The music definitely needed no supplementation. The scoring called for a large contingent of instruments. The orchestration was glorious, even luxuriant, with its rich palette of dark and light hues. One could well be reminded of the wonderful tone poems of Richard Strauss. The honored composer was present, appearing on stage to make her well-deserved bows to the exuberant audience.”

Interview with San Diego Union-Tribune

October 5th, 2015

In advance of the wonderful Art of Élan‘s October 6 performance at the San Diego Museum of Art (which will include a performance of my chamber octet, Daughter of the Waves) Jim Chute of the San Diego Union-Tribune interviewed me about performance practice, New Amsterdam, and more. You can read it here.

Interview with North Carolina’s Indy Week

September 24th, 2015

Dan Ruccia of Indy Week asked me some questions about Hiraeth, my large upcoming work for the North Carolina Symphony. I talk to him about childhood memories of North Carolina and the process of writing the piece and making the film component with Mark DeChiazza. You can read it here.

Premiere of “The River” Video on Interview Magazine

September 23rd, 2015

TheRiver_shot1Very excited to premiere the video for “The River” from Unremembered today on Interview Magazine. The video was shot at the cycle’s rural Massachusetts location and was directed by the brilliant Dan Huiting, with cinematography by the immensely gifted Andre Durand, and editing by Lauren Josephine.

The video is dedicated with love and admiration to Andre, who died tragically on September 20 in an accident in Brooklyn at the age of 32. You can watch his beautiful work here.

UNREMEMBERED on New York Magazine’s To-Do List

September 10th, 2015

todo150907_560We were delighted to have critic Justin Davidson recommend Unremembered on New York Magazine‘s Cultural To-Do List for September. Davidson writes:

“The composer Sarah Kirkland Snider is a refreshingly slow worker: She spent four years weaving the richly textured polychrome tapestry of this new recording. Silver threads of medievalish counterpoint twist together with twinkling electronics, faux folk tunes, vintage pop melodies, and avant-garde choral techniques to create an intricately magical landscape.”

Interview at Thought Catalog

September 9th, 2015

unnamed1Porter Anderson interviewed me for Thought Catalog/Music for Writers. He asked me a number of interesting questions about Unremembered and not one was about genre! We talk about the interplay of visual and musical inspirations, anxiety, being disturbed by one’s material, my process of working with Nathaniel’s text, and how I feel about my career. You can read it here.


UNREMEMBERED Album of the Week at Q2 Music!

September 8th, 2015
Photo by Willy Somma

Photo by Willy Somma

Honored to have Unremembered as Album of the Week at Q2 Music. They write:

“Five years have passed since the release of Sarah Kirkland Snider’s first full-length, Penelope—five long, long years, for everybody bewitched by that debut. Written with poet Ellen McLaughlin, the Penelope LP features vocals by My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden and was received to rapturous critical acclaim upon its release by Snider’s own New Amsterdam Records .

Unremembered, out now on New Amsterdam, reunites Snider with Worden, and for good measure adds two more of indie rock’s loveliest and most striking voices, Padma Newsome of Clogs and singer/songwriter/treasure D.M. Stith. This time around, the poetry is courtesy of Nathaniel Bellows, and the speaker is haunted not by the trauma of war but by an almost ordinary childhood—sometimes idyllic, sometimes disturbing, and often both at once.

As one might expect from a song cycle about youth and memory, Unremembered aches with the strange nostalgia of rediscovery: the rocking sing-song quality of Bellows’s texts reads like the clothbound verses of some poet long gone out of vogue, and the yards of romantic orchestral texture Snider swaddles them in recall nothing so much as those brilliant and inexplicably forgotten Laurel Canyon sessions from the ’70s.

Once in a while, Snider exposes the mechanisms that drive the music—as if the listener needed reminding that what she gets up to here is as cerebral as the more emotionally remote music of her concert-hall contemporaries—but she seems less interested in austerity than in generous displays of affect, and deftly tucks the clockwork back in between the score’s orchestral exuberances.

And what an orchestra! The list of players is a who’s who of New York players, assembled under the baton of Edwin Outwater, a conductor whose ear for hip sounds has put his Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony on the map for lovers of new music.

But even apart from these star performers, this recording, simply as a recording, is—thanks to keen production from Snider and percussionist/studio wiz Lawson White, plus additional electronic contributions from Michael Hammond of New Amsterdam’s vastly underrated No Lands project—a work of art in its own right.”

UNREMEMBERED is released!

September 4th, 2015

11215134_10207739387306037_600253101996935252_n12039769_10207739387066031_6887680982653788021_nToday Unremembered officially enters the world. A four-year labor of love, madness, blood, sweat, and tears. I think back on the hundreds of hours I spent with Lawson, Andrew, and Michael editing and mixing and sound designing, making dozens of rounds of edit/mix notes, driving back and forth to Brooklyn all those many months, slapping my face so I wouldn’t fall asleep at the wheel, the mother guilt I felt for nights away from my kids in a budget hotel under the BQE and the composer and record-label guilt I felt for neglecting other commitments that needed my attention, and I wonder how I didn’t completely lose my mind the way I feared I would. Perhaps I did, a bit. But whatever I lost was replaced by an even deeper sense of what it means to collaborate and to be profoundly inspired by those collaborators, to set shared goals and then work together fervently in the hopes of achieving them. I feel indescribably lucky and grateful to have such inspiring muses, kindred spirits, and dear friends in my life. My deep and heartfelt thanks to all the artists — Shara, David, Padma, Edwin, Andrew, Michael, Lawson; every member of the Unremembered Orchestra; and all the mastering, engineering, and editing folks  — who shared their talent and time with me in order to make this record possible.

New Music Box Profile/Interview

September 2nd, 2015

imagesHere is an interview I did with the wonderful Molly Sheridan of New Music Box, talking about emotion, process, and influences. There is a video segment as well.

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