Sara Kirkland Snider ~ Composer of Music

New York Philharmonic Commission and hotspots festival

February 10th, 2019

The New York Philharmonic announced its 19/20 Season, which will include an orchestral commission from Sarah. Her new piece will premiere on the season finale concert in June 2020 as part of Project 19, which celebrates the Centennial of the 19th Amendment (granting women the right to vote) with orchestral and chamber commissions from nineteen female composers over multiple seasons.

Sarah’s premiere will also be part of the hotspots festival, which shines a light on three “hotspots” of classical music innovation: Berlin, Reykjavík, and New York. For the New York edition, Sarah will curate a Nightcap concert at the Kaplan Penthouse with host Nadia Sirota.

Bravi tutti to New York Philharmonic to helping make classical music an art form inclusive of women’s voices.

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra announces 19-20 season: Hiraeth!

February 1st, 2019

The New Jersey Symphony Orchestra announced their 19-20 season, which will include performing Sarah’s 27′ orchestral work, Hiraeth, on Opening Weekend. Originally commissioned by the North Carolina Symphony and the Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Hiraeth is accompanied by a film by Mark DeChiazza, which was also commissioned by North Carolina Symphony.

You can watch a short trailer for the piece/film here.

eighth blackbird performs ‘You Are Free’ on NPR’s Live From Here

January 27th, 2019

eighth blackbird gave a stunning performance of Sarah’s piece You Are Free on NPR’s Live From Here with Chris Thile (previously known as Prairie Home Companion.) The blackbirds also performed music by David Lang and Bryce Dessner, on a show that featured Jason Isbell and comedian Kurt Braunohler.

You can listen to the show here. Sarah’s piece happens at 1:10:00.

You Are Free was originally commissioned by Grand Valley State University New Music Ensemble in 2015.

Sarah nominated for Classical:NEXT Innovation Award 2019

January 19th, 2019

Sarah has been nominated to the Longlist for Classical:NEXT’s Innovation Award 2019! Nominated by an international committee of music professionals tasked with honoring innovative women in classical music, Sarah was recognized both for her innovations to classical recording in her albums Unremembered and Penelope as well as her work as Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of New Amsterdam Records. She joins a list of esteemed women and female-centered organizations in classical music the world over.

The committee writes:

“Sarah Kirkland Snider is a brilliant composer whose work reflects the highest values of both traditional and forward-thinking composition. She utilizes the full breadth of tools at her disposal, including classical instruments, exemplary independent rock musicians, and the recording and production studio, to fulfill her specific musical needs. Her two orchestral song cycle records, ‘Unremembered’ and ‘Penelope,’ whose ambitious and intricately detailed production she directed, are unprecedented in their synthesis of classical and popular recording, mixing, and post-production techniques, and truly bring classical recorded music into the 21st century. Her music has been widely acclaimed in both the classical and popular media, receiving major reviews and performances across the spectrum. Her role at New Amsterdam has allowed her to support the musical visions of many other artists who are in line with her musical worldview, yet come from their own perspectives. She is a true visionary and a model for the “citizen-composer” that we all strive to be.”

Sarah on NPR’s Studio 360

January 17th, 2019

NPR’s Studio 360 interviewed Sarah about her new choral piece, You Must Feel with Certainty, for a feature they did on Swedish female abstract painter Hilma af Klint, the subject of the Guggenheim retrospective Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future. Sarah’s piece was commissioned by the Guggenheim Works & Process to celebrate the exhibit, and was premiered in the Guggenheim Rotunda by George Steel’s Vox Vocal Ensemble on December 16 and 17.

Sarah talks about how Hilma’s artwork directly inspired her music, and how she tried to tried to capture some of Hilma’s approach to creativity in her own. You can listen to the episode and interview here.

You can watch the premiere of You Must Feel with Certainty here.


December 21st, 2018

On December 16 and 17, 2018, George Steel’s Vox Vocal Ensemble gave the world premiere of You Must Feel with Certainty, for choir and percussion, at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. You Must Feel with Certainty was commissioned in 2018 by Guggenheim Works & Process to celebrate Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future, the Guggenheim’s retrospective of Hilma af Klint, the pioneering and long under-recognized Swedish female abstract artist.

Sarah writes in her program note for the piece: “The Guggenheim gave me access to some of her recently-translated journals, in which I found the text for this piece. Af Klint practiced automatic writing and drawing, creating work at the behest of spirits she channeled in seances with a group of four other women called ‘The Five.’ With this text, titled simply “September 16, 1903,” it’s unclear whether Hilma channeled these words or wrote them to herself. Regardless, they seem to speak not only to the faith and tenacity required by the creative process, but presciently, to the recognition of Hilma’s artwork, which over a century later now finds itself in bloom.

Deeply inspired by Hilma’s art, openness, and story, while writing this piece I strove to open myself to voices I don’t always hear. The full text as found in her journal is as follows:

September 16, 1903 

You are bewildered by what we have told you, but the phenomenon we are trying to explain is truly bewildering. What is this phenomenon, you ask? Well, beloved, it is that which we want to call the secret growing. How often have we heard you say that everything is futile, that nothing comes of all your labors. Yet like amorphous buds your endeavors sprout in all directions. You see everything as formless and you forget that this is a sign of life. Gradually the formlessness takes on more precise contours and the steadily growing roots feed an ever stronger plant, which will one day explode with an abundance of leaves and flowers. You know this is so, but you must perceive this knowledge with such vividness that you dare to build on it. You have to feel with certainty that even the smallest effort to grow in goodness leaves a clear trace inside you. When you do not see an outer result, this must not discourage or tire you in your efforts, for just as invisible hands help and tend every plant on this green Earth, so every budding sprout of goodness is tended and shaped and protected by invisible powers and when the time comes your eyes will open and you too will see the beautiful plant that grew in secrecy, the product of your noble endeavors and your pure intentions. Accept our account as a greeting from us so that you shall never tire when all seems lost.”

Rick Perdian of Seen and Heard International reviewed the concert December 19, writing of Sarah’s piece: “A new work was also premiered, Sarah Kirkland Snider’s ‘You Must Feel with Certainty’. It was commissioned by the Guggenheim Museum for this concert to celebrate ‘Hilma af Klint: Paintings for the Future’, a current retrospective of the pioneering and long under-recognized Swedish female abstract artist’s works. Af Klint also practiced automatic writing and drawing, creating works at the behest of spirits that she channeled in seances. Snider set one of these texts, ‘September 16, 1903’, for chorus and percussion (it’s not known whether the words were channeled or if af Klimt wrote them herself).

‘You Must Feel with Certainty’ exploited the Rotunda’s unique acoustical qualities with high-pitched drones, antiphonal effects, glissandos in the marimba, vibraphone and voices and quick staccato passages. With her ability to paint words (especially vivid when it came to depicting sprouting plants) in music and convey ideas in sound, Snider creates music that is not only beautiful but intriguing, capturing the spirit of the Swedish mystic whose paintings could be glimpsed in the adjoining galleries.”

New York Premiere and NYT Review of SOMETHING FOR THE DARK

November 25th, 2018

A New York premiere of an orchestral piece is always exciting, but a New York premiere alongside the world premiere of a reconstructed symphony by Julius Eastman is something altogether spectacular. I was  deeply honored to have my orchestral piece Something for the Dark performed by the Mannes Orchestra alongside Eastman’s Symphony No. 2 (edited by Luciano Chessa) and Rautevaara’s Symphony No. 3.

Of Something for the Dark, The New York Times wrote: “The concert opened with Sarah Kirkland Snider’s “Something for the Dark,” which also approaches sound as a vast, malleable substance. In this sophisticated piece, repetition transforms the emotional charge of musical motifs. A turn of phrase may appear pretty at first, then take on shades of nostalgia before registering as a creepy obsession haunting the ear. Ms. Snider skillfully draws a wide arc, with throbbing brass accents and slashing chords driving up tension. The work ends quietly, as if on a question.” You can read the whole article here.

Update, 1/6/19: The concert topped Log Journal and New Yorker critic Steve Smith’s Top 10 Memorable Music Moments of 2018: “In November, the composer and musicologist Luciano Chessa conducted a polished, committed Mannes Orchestra in the world-premiere account of Eastman’s Symphony No. 2, a fantastically scored aural chronicle of love, loss, and regret, newly edited by Chessa—and thoughtfully showcased among substantial pieces by Sarah Kirkland Snider and Einojuhani Rautavaara.”

Composer Residency at UC-Boulder College of Music

November 10th, 2018

I’m honored to be Composer-in-Residence at UC-Boulder College of Music for the 2018-2019 year. I’ll make three visits to campus to give composition lessons and lectures, and to coach rehearsals and a performance of my music. I’m excited to learn from the students and to see mountains. I’ll also work with the Boulder Symphony on my large orchestral work, Hiraeth (a snippet of which I am obliged to tell you can be listened to here, alongside a beautiful film by Mark DeChiazza.)

Twelve Performances of SKS Orchestral Works in 2018-2019 Season

September 5th, 2018

The Arapahoe Philharmonic performs Something for the Dark

Sarah’s orchestral works Something for the Dark and Hiraeth will, together, receive twelve performances in the 2018-2019 season. There will be ten performances of Snider’s fourth orchestral work, Something for the Dark, including its European premiere with Maestro Andreas Delfs and the Aarhus Symfoniorkester at the Hamburg ElbphilharmonieCommissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 2014 when Snider won the Detroit Symphony Orchestra’s Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award, Something for the Dark’s other performances will be given in the U.S. and Denmark by the Boulder Symphony, the Kansas City Symphony Orchestra, the Rutgers Symphony Orchestra, the Mannes Orchestra, and the Aarhus Symfoniorkester. Her 27-minute work for orchestra (and optional film by Mark deChiazza), Hiraeth, originally commissioned by North Carolina Symphony and Princeton Symphony Orchestra, will be performed by the Arapahoe Philharmonic and the Columbia Orchestra.

European premiere of SOMETHING FOR THE DARK at Elbphilharmonie

August 28th, 2018

Sarah’s 2015 orchestral work, Something for the Dark, received its European premiere by the Danish Aarhus Symfoniorkester August 23, 2018, under Maestro Andreas Delfs, at Hamburg’s stunning Elbphilharmonie. Part of a concert entitled “Seven Deadly Pearls,” it shared a program with music by Kurt Weill and Shara Nova, and subsequently received performances in Aarhus, Denmark.

Something for the Dark was inspired by a Philip Levine poem and commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as the prize for the Elaine Lebenbom Competition for female composers, which Sarah won in 2014. You can listen to the original version (Sarah revised it in 2016) of the piece here.

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