Sara Kirkland Snider ~ Composer of Music

Reviews for Residentie Orkest Den Haag (Hague Philharmonic)’s PENELOPE with Shara Worden

April 10th, 2014
Conductor Andre de Ridder conducts Shara Worden and Residentie Orkest Den Haag in PENELOPE May 17, 2014, at Paard van Troje, The Hague, NL

Conductor Andre de Ridder conducts Shara Worden and Residentie Orkest Den Haag in PENELOPE May 17, 2014

Performing Penelope with Residentie Orkest Den Haag (The Hague Philharmonic) and Shara Worden last month was an extraordinary experience. The Residentie Orkest is one of the world’s leading orchestras, and it was thrilling to work with them under the direction of Berlin-based André de Ridder, a conductor whose work I’ve admired for his bold and inspired choices in both performance and programming. I knew he understood the work in a deep and unusual way when he turned around during the first rehearsal and asked: “Sarah, am I correctly picking up on some Sebadoh influence in the guitar writing here?”

A composer should not put too much stock in reviews, so I generally have my assistant compile my press and try to stay out of it. But these were sent to me by someone in the orchestra, and hey, I’ll admit it: when they’re nice, it’s nice. Always gratifying to make a connection with a listener who’s able to then translate their experience of the music into words others can read. Here are some Google-translated excerpts from Dutch reviews of the event:

From 3voor12: “What follows is almost indescribable. The orchestra brings with full intensity the melancholy which supported Worden’s diligent and flawless singing. The inner struggle and quests of the two main characters, who are barely able to communicate with each other and then try to build a life, is associated with extreme emotional precision. During the very short breaks between songs you can hear the proverbial pin drop. The modern classic masterpiece does musically reminiscent of works by Arvo Pärt, but also the electronic Ólafur Arnalds example. The singer is sometimes reminiscent of a fragile Björk without Icelandic accent. However, both remain at all times completely unique. During the fifty intense minutes, the audience is completely overwhelmed with all facets of human emotion. After the last words of ‘As he looks out to sea’, a loud cheer sounded and gave all the performers, including composer who was present, a standing ovation. Once again proves that groundbreaking experiments like these definitely be successful.”

From Roar Netherlands: “The two pieces are different from each other in speed, sensitivity and color. [Tyondai Braxton’s] ‘Fly By Wire’ is static, complex and chilly. The piece of Snider, ‘Penelope’, in addition to the orchestra, was performed by My Brightest Diamond singer Shara Worden. The piece is intense, penetrating and melancholic music, texts symbolic. Tonight is further proof that classical music definitely has a place in modern pop temples. It promised visitors an unforgettable evening.”

Photos of the evening from 3voor12 

Photos of the Evening from Roar Netherlands

Winner of Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Lebenbom Memorial Award!

March 30th, 2014

Unknown-1I’m deeply honored and thrilled to write that I was named the 7th annual winner of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award. I will compose a work for the Detroit Symphony Orchestra that will be given its world premiere under DSO Conductor Leonard Slatkin in the ’15-16 season. While I’ve spent the past couple years writing for voice and orchestra, I’ve been eager to focus on writing for orchestra alone, and I grew up listening to countless recordings by both the DSO and Slatkin, so this news really had me quite beside myself.

Here’s to applying for things. I can’t say that I’ve been great at following this advice myself, and I still fully believe that winning a competition is not a conferral of anything other your work having found the right audience in whoever happens to be on the panel at that time. It’s the ultimate case of being in the right place at the right time. But it’s pretty safe to say that if you don’t apply, you won’t win. I applied for this competition because I’d been in an ASCAP task-force on female composers the day before the deadline, during which we discussed the tendency of female composers not to apply for things and self-advocate enough. Feeling somewhat guilty about the fact that I myself hadn’t applied for a competition or the like in six years, I went home, updated my C.V. and Fedexed my application. I then promptly forgot about it — until a year later, when I found myself wondering why someone from the Detroit Symphony had left a message on my voicemail.

You never know. And winning is not the only possible good outcome: panelists who hear your work and like it will remember you for other opportunities. This has happened to several composers I know, myself included. So yeah: apply for things, folks. ESPECIALLY YOU, LADIES. 

Here is the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s press release.

I wrote a ringtone.

March 15th, 2014

MM_web_bannerThe brilliant, talented, and clever fellows in Chicago’s Spektral Quartet asked me to create a ringtone for their Mobile Miniatures project, which commissioned 45 composers from around the world to re-imagine the word of ringtones, alerts, and alarms. At their suggestion, I chose to compose a little wake-up alarm, which you can find here.

A wonderfully diverse cross-section of composers, with so many ingenious, witty, and imaginative takes on the idea. Here’s an article from The Chicago Tribune on the project.

PENELOPE in Zurich, May 2014! Performance Added to Apples & Olives Festival

February 27th, 2014

737492_47bd09b870fb4cfeadcbb881dc9aefe3.png_srz_485_290_75_22_0.50_1.20_0.00_png_srzPenelope has been added to the lineup of the intriguing new post-classical festival Apples & Olives, the brainchild of Swiss musical and cultural entrepreneur Etienne Abelin.  The inaugural A&O festival will take place May 22-24, 2014, and will feature work by A&O Vocal Ensemble, Nik Bärtsch, Jannik Giger, Judd Greenstein, Konomichi, Sarah Neufeld (Arcade Fire), Nexus Quintet, NOW Ensemble, Gabriel Prokofiev, Caroline Shaw, Yband, and more.

Shara Worden, fresh off her Penelope performance with the Residentie Orkest of The Hague, will perform the work with members of NOW Ensemble and other instrumentalists featured at the Festival.

Roomful of Teeth’s Debut Album Wins GRAMMY AWARD!

February 5th, 2014

Unknown-3Thrilled that Roomful of Teeth has been awarded the GRAMMY for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance!

A piece of mine, “The Orchard” (text by Nathaniel Bellows) — commissioned by Roomful of Teeth as part of a residency I did with them at MASS MoCA in 2011 — is featured on the album, which was released on New Amsterdam. Congrats to Brad Wells and the Teeth!

North Carolina Symphony Orchestra Commission Announced!

January 30th, 2014

Unknown-2I’m delighted to have been commissioned to write a 25 minute work for the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra for their ’14-15 season. North Carolina is a place of strong emotional resonance for me, as my father was born and raised there, and I spent a lot of time there growing up. I’m honored to be a part of the NSCO’s visionary new programming by Martin Sher, Amy Kolling Russell, and Grant Llewellyn, a season which will also feature works by (living!) composers Timo Andres, Mason Bates, Derek Bermel, Judd Greenstein, and Jorg Widmann.


December 30th, 2013

Unknown-1The Wall Street Journal’s Corinne Ramey recently wrote an article focusing on New Amsterdam’s past year and first inaugural benefit. In addition to noting our recovery from Hurricane Sandy, Ramey highlighted the handful of recent GRAMMY nominations for albums released on New Amsterdam as well as this year’s Pulitzer Prize for music, which was awarded to Caroline Shaw for her Partita, recorded on New Amsterdam.

To read the full article, click HERE.

Reviews for Cantus Premiere: PSALM OF THE SOIL

October 30th, 2013

UnknownReviews are in for the Twin Cities world premiere of Psalm of the Soil, commissioned by premiere men’s vocal ensemble Cantus for their program entitled “A Place For Us.”  Psalm of the Soil sets a newly-composed poem by New York writer Nathaniel Bellows.  The Star Tribune writes: ““Psalm of the Soil,” by Sarah Kirkland Snider, was commissioned especially for this concert. Rooted in folk music but full of complex harmonies, it effectively evoked the emotional complexity of the immigrant experience.” The Pioneer Press/Twin writes: “Speaking of haunting, that’s a specialty of composer Sarah Kirkland Snider, who folds classical and pop together in her work. Cantus commissioned a new work from her, and “Psalm of the Soil” is less layered than is customary for Snider, but its starkness was striking.” Cantus will perform the work at concerts throughout the Northeast in the spring; check the Events page for listings!

UNREMEMBERED live preview, newly mixed, on WNYC’s New Sounds

July 15th, 2013


The live recording of the preview of UNREMEMBERED from the Ecstatic Music Festival performance of February 6, 2013, has been newly mixed and edited! It was just featured on WNYC’s New Sounds with the inimitable John Schaefer. You can listen to the show here.

UNREMEMBERED is my new large-scale song cycle for seven voices and chamber orchestra, featuring vocalists Padma Newsome (Clogs), D.M. Stith, and Shara Worden, set to poetry by Nathaniel Bellows and commissioned by the Ecstatic Music Festival. I recently wrote three new songs for the cycle, bringing it to a total of thirteen (60 minutes.) We will record Unremembered in September and October, for release on New Amsterdam Records in 2014. You can read more about the project (and listen to the recording) here.

THE CURRENTS live recording now available

July 15th, 2013

You can now listen to Andrew Staupe‘s live performance of my new piece for solo piano, The Currents, here. The Currents was commissioned by the American Pianists Association for its 2013 Classical Fellowship Awards, of which Andrew Staupe was a finalist. This performance took place April 25, 2013, at the New York premiere of the APA Classical Fellowship Awards at Trinity Church, NY, NY.

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