Sara Kirkland Snider ~ Composer of Music


“…one of the decade’s more gifted, up-and-coming modern classical composers.”

Pitchfork, September 29, 2015

“…an important representative of 21st century trends in composition…”

New York Classical Review, January 9, 2018

“…a potentially significant voice on the American music landscape.”

–David Patrick Stearns, Philadephia Inquirer, May 15, 2012

“…a modern composer of significant note and accomplishment.”

textura, September 2015

“…among the brightest lights to emerge in recent seasons.”

Time Out New York, April 1, 2011

“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.”

–Jayson Greene, Pitchfork, January 5, 2011

“…it is Snider’s fresh, instinctive way with voices that sets her apart from most of her peers…”

–Tom Huizenga, The Washington Post, November 16, 2015

“Snider clearly has a lot to say that’s worth listening to…”

–Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News, February 2016

“…the finest composer for voice of her generation.”

The Agit Reader, August 4, 2015

“…a composer with an enviable knack for crafting moody, strikingly beautiful works.”

Time Out New York, May 18, 2009

“Uniting pop and classical music, though, doesn’t have to result in a shadow of both worlds… Sarah Kirkland Snider [is] conjoining genres to produce culturally electric new music.”

The Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2010

“Composers such as…Sarah Kirkland Snider — names that crop up with increasing frequency in America’s concert programs, opera brochures and record labels — draw with perceptible freedom and lack of anxiety from a wide array of musical sources, without worrying about musical-political correctness or tribal affiliation.”

The SF Gate, July 30, 2015

“In the ‘00s, I was still enamored with minimalism in the contemporary classical world, and as a result I was completely blindsided by the exciting developments in the “indie classical” and the avant-garde classical world. I still think highly of Philip Glass and John Adams, but in listening to people like Sarah Kirkland Snider…my horizons of how I understand classical music as a whole are expanded.”

Popmatters, The Best Music of the 00’s, October 1, 2014


The New Yorker, February 2, 2013

“Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider is at the forefront of the “post-classical” scene where genre boundaries can’t keep her and contemporaries from fertile new artistic ground.”

Minneapolis City Pages, February 25, 2013

“Sarah Kirkland Snider belongs to a diminishing margin of composers whose work is as easy on the ears as it is demanding of the mind. ”

Hotel St. George Press, January 1, 2007

“And never mind the thousands of young composers writing fascinating scores at this very moment — no wait, let’s mention a few: Derek Bermel, Jennifer Higdon, Michel van der Aa, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Philippe Bodin. They must be a bit discouraged when listeners unwittingly telegraph that all good music is at least 100 years old — an odd message to send to any explorer, in any medium. Every era has its great artists, for those willing to make the effort to notice them.”

–Bruce Hodges, Monotonous Forest, January 18, 2007

“[The] works of Sarah Snider could be described as indeterminately elegiac, or just plain lovely.”

The New Haven Independent, April 28, 2006

“The experimental possibilities for holiday tunes are endless…The recursive structure of “Twelve Days of Christmas,” for instance, is a standing invitation to a modern composer’s reappraisal, like a Sarah Kirkland Snider song cycle or a pointillist symphony that echoes the ideas of Steve Reich.”

–Grayson Haver Currin, Pitchfork, December 13, 2017

[select interviews/features]

The Log Journal: Interview with Sarah Kirkland Snider and Nathaniel Bellows, 3/16/17
The Minnesota Post: Four Questions with Sarah Kirkland Snider, 3/9/17
Liquid Music Blog: Interview with Sarah Kirkland Snider by Jodie Landau, 3/7/17
I Care If You Listen: 5 Questions to Sarah Kirkland Snider, 5/5/16
The Boston Globe: “In Snider’s Penelope, evidence of a composer’s odyssey,” 11/26/15
Indy Week: “The North Carolina Symphony delivers [a] world premiere…” 9/23/15
“Honoring a Father with Music,” Central Jersey, 5/5/16
Thought Catalog: “SKS on Unremembered: A Ravishing Fever Dream” 9/5/15
“Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider Reflects on Growing Up in Princeton,” US1, 5/4/16 
New Music Box: Sarah Kirkland Snider: The Full 360, 9/1/15
NPR 100 Composers Under 40, April 17, 2011
Flavorwire, 10 Young Female Composers You Should Know, April 20, 2011
The Glass: June 6, 2012
The New Jersey Star-Ledger: “Mixing Mother Love and Melody,” May 13, 2012
Minneapolis City Pages: Sarah Kirkland Snider & Shara Worden, On Penelope, 2/15/13
WPRB: Classical Discoveries (audio: 3 hrs!), May 9, 2012
U.S. 1: May 9, 2012
National Endowment for the Arts Blog: New Amsterdam, December 13, 2011
The Indie Handbook: Penelope, April 25, 2011
The Huffington Post: Penelope and Ecstatic Music Festival, March 15, 2011
Venus Zine: Penelope, November 15, 2010
eMusic: On New Amsterdam, October 26, 2010



Q2 Music 50 Best Classical Works of 1996-2016
Q2 Music 50 Best Classical Works of 1995-2015
The Washington Post
 (Anne Midgette) Top 5 Classical Albums of 2015
The Nation (David Hajdu) Top 10 Albums of 2015
Steve Smith (The Boston GlobeThe New York Times) Top 20 Albums of 2015
WNYC New Sounds (John Schaefer) Top 10 Albums of 2015
Textura Top Ten Albums of 2015 
Seth Colter Walls (The Guardian, Pitchfork) Top 30 Albums of 2015
New Music Box Staff Picks 2015
The Agit Reader Staff Picks Top 5 2015
New York Music Daily Top 50 Albums of 2015 
Paperblog Top 10 Albums of 2015
I Care If You Listen Gift Guide
Ted Gioia (The Daily Beast) Top 100 Tracks of 2015
KMUW Strange Currency Top 10 Albums of 2015
A Fool in the Forest Top 10 Albums of 2015
Auftoren.De Staff Picks Top 10 Albums of 2015
A Good Day for Airplay Top 10 Albums of 2015
Curve Ball Top 10 Albums of 2015
Worlds of Echo Top 20 Albums of 2015
Vallejo Nocturno Top Albums of 2015
Knight of Leo Best Albums of 2015

“What drew all these artists together was Unremembered, a new song cycle by Ms. Snider based on a sequence of 10 poems by Nathaniel Bellows… Employing a broader temperamental palette than she used for Penelope Ms. Snider still showed a predilection for the wistful and melancholy. Again she made striking use of Ms. Worden’s distinctive voice, conveying innocence, ambiguity and insight. The work attested to Ms. Snider’s thorough command of musical mood setting, organically integrating the structural economy and direct impact of pop songs with deft, subtle orchestrations that lent emotional gravity and nuance.” (full article)

–Steve Smith, The New York Times, “Fusions That Defy Categories,” February 11, 2013

“The composer Sarah Kirkland Snider is a refreshingly slow worker: She spent four years weaving the richly textured polychrome tapestry of this [Unremembered] 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.”

–Justin Davidson, New York Magazine, “Arts To Do,” September 8, 2015

“[Unremembered] is Snider’s own brand of New England gothic that would make Edgar Allan Poe proud. It is also a study in the beguiling power of memory… Snider’s music, like the images, is multilayered, often angular, and deftly blends ideas from rock and post-minimalist composers…strings slither and drums detonate like bombs, propelling a nightmarish chaos. Quieter songs are meticulously orchestrated, too. “The Swan” sways with misty strings, an undulating harp and the painterly touch of an oboe, while “The Speakers” displays an intricate weave of soft piano chords, acoustic guitar, celeste and gently rumbling electronics. Snider’s score, both terrifying and tender, gets a penetrating performance…

But it is Snider’s fresh, instinctive way with voices that sets her apart from most of her peers…groups of voices are stretched and layered with extended techniques. They pulsate in a shimmering bed of sound in “The River,” take flight with interlocking patterns in “The Girl” and unfold in fanfares of Renaissance-like polyphony to open “The Song.”…Snider’s and Bellows’s mysterious and unsettling creations…just may contain clues to understanding the darker truths of adulthood.”

–Tom Huizenga, The Washington Post, “Indie Classical Meets American Gothic,” December 16, 2015

In 13 warped and eerie songs, Snider dives into the world of a New England childhood, channel[ing] the ghostly simplicity of a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. [Unremembered] refracts reality just as memory does. From the first stabs of strings and militant drums, “The Witch” throws you in the middle of a hunt — a frightened child flees an ominous specter… Even though Bellows’ words speak of a moment long ago, the music tugs them into the present. Snider’s forceful orchestra, led by sharp stomps from the cellos, chases Worden, sometimes enveloping her completely.”

NPR Songs We Love, Deceptive Cadence, July 28, 2015

“In her cycle of thirteen songs for multiple voices and chamber orchestra, Sarah Kirkland Snider uses poems by Nathaniel Bellows to address various topics—memory, natural beauty and the intermingling of mystery, pain and pleasure that often accompanies recollections from childhood. She calls on an array of styles to conjure her evocative, strangely beautiful soundscapes…Snider excels at capturing the hazy swirl of memories that can haunt an entire lifetime. Her tonal language is often quite sophisticated and harmonically probing, with impressively layered textures of voices and instruments… the three alluring, flexible vocalists—Padma Newsome, DM Stith, and Shara Worden—provide affecting, lyrical renderings of Snider’s melodies, which are otherworldly and ear-catching. …Edwin Outwater conducts a good-sized, impressive-sounding chamber orchestra, and “sound design” is credited to Michael Hammond, Lawson White, and Snider, referring presumably to the skillful way electric and acoustic sounds have been interwoven. Snider clearly has a lot to say that’s worth listening to, and Bellows’ poems (which are accompanied in the booklet by attractive stained glass-style artwork), seem perfectly matched to her restless, inquisitive artistic sensibility.”

–Joshua Rosenblum, Opera News, February 2016

“a masterpiece”

Paste, February 2018

“Snider’s lyrical and oft-rapturous music is characterized by immense poise and sophistication…[her] artful handling of vocal counterpoint and orchestral writing impresses mightily, and one comes away from the piece struck by her ability to create a miniature vocal symphony within the parameters of a four-minute time-frame…Examples of Snider’s invention abound…Unremembered presents a world rooted in childhood experiences that on the surface appears innocent enough yet discloses upon closer inspection a murkier realm beneath its skin. As fully realized a work as Penelope, this hour-long follow-up reaffirms Snider’s stature as a modern composer of significant note and accomplishment.”

textura, September 2015 (Album of the Month)

“Together, Snider and Bellows have created one of the most significant and harrowing releases of the year, a ravishing fever dream. Hear it once, and Unremembered is unforgettable.”

–Porter Anderson, Thought Catalog, Music for Writers: “A Ravishing Fever Dream from Sarah Kirkland Snider and Nathaniel Bellows,” September 5, 2015

“With Unremembered…Sarah Kirkland Snider cements her reputation—begun with 2010’s Penelope—as the finest composer for voice of her generation… Everything here is in its place, but there’s still an appealing grit; you’d never accuse this ornate chamber music of looseness, but neither does it feel hermetic. Even at its most abstruse, everything is fed by a beating, glowing heart… [It’s] clear this is a record made for this time and a record this time needs. The multiplicity of musical languages spoken so deftly highlights the ambiguity of image and the melancholy of both remembering and not — and can be unpacked again and again, still revealing treasures.”

–Richard Sanford, The Agit Reader, August 4, 2015

“[Unremembered is] haunting, orchestral and poetic…cinematic and atmospheric…”

Interview Magazine, September 23, 2015

“Wrapped in Snider’s lush, expressive music, the poems become songs of innocence lost and wisdom gained. It’s like a gothic novel unfolding in the most delicious way.”

–Pamela Espeland, The Minnesota Post, March 9, 2017

“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!…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—a work of art in its own right.”

–Daniel Stephen Johnson, Q2 Music/WQXR, August 31, 2015

“…Unremembered is as enthralling in its musical flow as its lyrical narrative, and the way Snider guides, teases, and manipulates the listener is masterful. It’s a stunning, immensely rewarding experience…”

–Adrien Begrand, PopMatters, August 27, 2015

Unremembered is all about exploding genres, bringing Van Dyke Parks into conversation with John Adams, My Brightest Diamond into collision with Edgard Varèse, and art song into contact with concept album. A recording is out now on New Amsterdam Records, and it’s great.”

–Dan Ruccia, Indy Week, October 5, 2015

“Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider braves these mystical terrors and takes on the full beauty and vast musical scope of childhood imagination in her latest release, Unremembered…Each song is its own vividly colored vignette, a mesmerizing narrative brought to life through Snider’s rich textural and temperamental palette… In a way, Snider also embellishes memories of the classical genre—musically she recalls the strict rules and structures of the classical tradition, but she does so in a way that is blurred, broken, and beautifully contorted….unforgettable.”

–Maggie Molloy, Second Inversion, September 14, 2015

“Five years after Snider’s heartbreaking song cycle Penelope, she returns with another one, Unremembered. Shara Worden (My Brightest Diamond) appeared on that album, and she returns here, delivering operatic vocals which possibly sound even better…This album is another dense, layered epic, with poetic, dramatic lyrics intertwined with vibrant, complex arrangements performed by The Unremembered Orchestra.”

The Answer Is In The Beat, September 11, 2015

“Snider’s settings were as wonderfully varied as [Bellows’ poetry], with a musical vocabulary rooted in Björk, Steve Reich and David Lang. While I very much enjoyed the neo-medieval polyphony of “The Guest” and Vespertine-like glassiness of “The Swan,” it was the third song, “The Witch,” that stole the show. The song feels like a glimpse into an entirely new sound world, melding the sneaky bass lines and rhythms of a My Brightest Diamond number with the unsettling orchestral interjections of Thomas Adès and some kind of obliquely driving rock. It was the perfect showcase for Worden, who acted the words as much as she sang them, contorting her body to match the ebbs and flows of the music. The song ended far too soon, and I wanted to spend more time exploring its possibilities. All the more reason, I suppose, to look forward to the new work of hers the NCS will premiere in September.”

–Dan Ruccia, Indy Week, “The North Carolina Symphony Mixes the Old with the New,” April 29, 2015

“In selections from Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Unremembered, Worden set aside the pep for something more subdued.  Based on grisly subject matter, “The Swan” was dark, cinematic, and passionately delivered. “The Witch” was intense, curling, and fierce, with groundwork laid by a jazzy guitar shuffle. If these two selections are any indication, Unremembered is a deeply personal, brave work from Snider. Her music provided a somber, if not unwelcome, lull to the evening.”

–Elias Blumm, I Care If You Listen, “Sins & Songs at Carnegie Hall,” March 12, 2015

“[Unremembered is] music of thoughtful inquiry and humane emotion, willing to embrace a modicum (or more) of overt beauty but suspicious toward too-easy sentiment or the merely pretty and ornamental…a heady blend of thoughtful intricacy with forthright emotional appeal…the setting composed for each [song] is rhythmically and tonally distinct, a sequence of craftily detailed tableaux, rich with surprise and nuance.”

–George Wallace, Genre, I’m Only Dancing, “A Boy’s Own Gothic,” September 4, 2015

“Based on wistful poetry by Nathaniel Bellows, and augmented with projections of his art and animations, the piece was an involving and moving success on first brush…with depths that urge repeated listening.”

–Steve Smith, Night After Night, February 23, 2013 (live performance review)

“Snider’s “Unremembered,” with text by Nathaniel Bellows, emerged as the night’s highlight. With full orchestra, [Shara] Worden, six backing vocalists and electronics, Snider created intricate, color-saturated landscapes that made one want more than one listen to plumb their layers of detail.” (full article)

–Ronni Reich, The NJ Star-Ledger, “Charmed Collaboration,” February 9, 2013 (live review)

“Next it was onto the Bijou for composer Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Unremembered, with My Brightest Diamond’s Sara Nova, DM Stith, and Padma Newsome. The piece was easy to drift into and I felt lighter a few minutes into the performance. The mix of Snider’s haunting score with Nova’s vocals and projected art seamlessly drifted from sweet to spooky to somber. I only meant to stay for a part of the performance, but ended up watching the entire thing. (full article)

The Knox Mercury, “Big Ears Day One Recap, Part Three: Dave Harrington Group, Sarah Kirkland Snider, Blonde Redhead” (March 24, 2017)

FOREIGN PRESS for Unremembered
Holland: Onnodige Ovaties (live concert review)
France: France Musique: Autour de Sarah Kirkland Snider (podcast) 
Germany: Feuilletone: Eine Kleine Frau, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and The Perks of Being a Wallflower (podcast)
Sweden: SverigeRadio: Kalejdoskop
Switzerland: Clandestini Per Scelta
Germany: Auftoren (Review; Album of the Quarter)
Turkey: Kiyi Muzik

[Something for the Dark]

Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Something for the Dark, which the Detroit Symphony Orchestra commissioned and premiered on April 14, represents the best of what a commission can yield. It is an an imposing achievement marked by Snider’s unique musical language and decisive artistic vision…The charms of Something for the Dark serve a grand structural purpose. Snider persuasively develops a complex music form. It is a veritable master class in the craft of contemporary music composition. The work represents an impressive achievement in managing the multiple time scales at play in music. Immediate moments are not only fascinating, but also connect with and contribute to the music’s overall shape and destiny…

The work traverses the dramatic change between its beginning and end upon a foundation of interlocking and interacting layers of rhythm. Snider conveys melodic ideas within these pulsating webs, and transforms them cleverly to propel the piece forward so subtly that it would be easy not to notice how it gets from Point A to Point B…. Snider makes this design less obvious, yet ineluctable, through her brilliant use of counterpoint. Specifically, she often introduces melodic ideas in the background of one section, only to bring them to the foreground of the next. This device serves as connective tissue, binding together passages that otherwise differ greatly. Snider’s use of counterpoint produces, on a small scale, the same sense of inevitable surprise elicited by the totality of the work’s structure. As a result, every moment of the Something for the Dark seems to prepare the listener to accept its overall form as the music’s absolute destiny.

Explaining the genesis of the work to this writer, Snider said: “I thought I would write a piece inspired by thoughts on endurance, wisdom, and renewal, as those are universal themes every human deals with.” Within the storied walls of midtown Detroit’s Orchestra Hall, Snider’s Something for the Dark displayed just such universal appeal and accessibility.”

“Brilliant Design Illuminates Core of Dark Music,” Classical Voice of America,
April 21, 2016


“…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.”

–Dan Ruccia, Indy Week: “Live With the North Carolina Symphony, Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Hiraeth Thrums with the Persistence of Memory,” October 5, 2015

“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…

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.”

–Paul D. Williams, Classical Voice of North CarolinaSeptember 25, 2015



No. 1, Time Out New York Top 10 Classical Albums of 2010
National Public Radio Top 5 Genre-Defying Albums of 2010
No. 3, textura Magazine Top 10 Albums of 2010
Huffington Post, Top 10 Alternative-Art Songs of 2001-2010 (“The Lotus Eaters”)
WNYC New Sounds (John Schaefer) Top 10 Albums of 2010
No. 16, eMusic Top 80 Albums of 2010
No. 1, Der Schallplattenmann sagt (Germany), Top 10 Albums of 2010
Seth Colter Walls (Newsweek and The Awl), Top 50 Albums of 2010
The Indie Handbook, Top 13 Albums of 2010 (“the landmark achievement of 2010″)
The Indie Handbook, Top 10 Songs of 2010 (“Circe and the Hanged Man”)
No. 7, Indie Rock Magazine (France), Top 10 Albums of 2010
No. 11, 17 dots, Top 30 Albums of 2010
Chicago Independent Radio Project, Best Songs of 2010 (“Nausicaa”)
No. 1, Fool in the Forest Top 25 Albums of 2010
No. 3, Mainly Music Meanderings, Top 20 Vocal Albums of 2010
Wears the Trousers, Best Albums of 2010
Screen of Distance, Top 25 Albums of 2010
No. 10, Crystalline Moment Top 20 Albums of 2010
Modern Worship, Top 20 Albums of 2010
Trinity Stardust and the Blog from Mars, Top 15 Albums of 2010
“Newcomer Musician of the Year” (Sarah Kirkland Snider), All About Jazz


The New York Times, March 10, 2011

“…a ravishingly melancholy 2010 song cycle.”

The New York Times, February 11, 2013

“A potent melding of classical poise and alt-pop punch, this dreamy song cycle was the year’s most affecting creation. Accompanied by new-music dream team Signal, vocalist Shara Worden mesmerized.”

Time Out New York, Best of 2010 Classical and Opera, December 17, 2010

Penelope is a gorgeous piece of music, but it is more — it is also a hauntingly vivid psychological portrait, one that explores a dark scenario with a light, almost quizzical touch, finding poetic resonances everywhere… No matter what perspective you bring to this album, it bears profound rewards.” (8.2 out of 10; full review)

–Jayson Greene, Pitchfork, January 5, 2011

“Penelope is such an accomplished and remarkable work, it’s hard to believe that it could possibly be [Snider’s] debut album… This year or any year for that matter, one would be hard pressed to hear melodies that are more gorgeous and soul-stirring… Material so powerful places Penelope head and shoulders above much else that was released in 2010.” (Album of the Month and textura Top Ten; full article)

textura Magazine, October 27, 2010

“[Penelope] embraces the sort of slow, aching beauty that pours out of Iceland these days: Sigur Rós, Múm, the composers on Valgeir Sigurðsson’s label Bedroom Community. Snider’s songwriting floats though its melody, cycling notes, leading the ear forward without adhering to the relentless A-B-A forms that can clobber similarly gorgeous pop songs.”

The Believer, Music Issue, July/August 2011

“[Penelope] had an elegiac quality that deftly evoked sensations of abandonment, agitation, grief and reconciliation…ably [demonstrating] the poised elegance of Ms. Snider’s writing.” (full article)

–Steve Smith, The New York Times, May 24, 2009


New York Magazine Approval Matrix, April 19, 2010

“[Penelope] is a cycle of haunting art songs…[echoing] the piercing melancholy of a Chopin nocturne and spacious rhythms of minimalism. Snaking out of the pastoral backdrop are instantly hummable pop melodies.” (full article)

–Kevin Berger, The Los Angeles Times, August 22, 2010

“[Penelope] deftly weaves pop…and classical. Snider’s dark-hued score is inventive and subtle, with a mix of watery, undulating strings, guitars, percussion and electronics that submerges you completely within the story.” (full article)

–Thomas Huizenga, National Public Radio, “Woman of Constant Sorrow,” October 7, 2010

“arresting…haunting and epic.”

Flavorwire, April 20, 2011

“With an onslaught of indie bands attempting to combine intellect and musicianship along with a pop sensibility, few have the ability to harness all three in the way Snider has on Penelope.  She courageously tackles a dramatic story arc in the vein of a Puccini opera while never losing track of her audience. Dramatic music may still be popular in many different genres but is rarely done with such care and precision.” (full article)

Death and Taxes Magazine, “Another Reason Why Classical Music Is Not Dead,” October 25, 2010

Penelope is not just essential listening; it is a soul-restoring musical balm.” (full article)

–Daniel Stephen Johnson, The New Haven Advocate, December 14, 2010

“Snider’s musical language includes intricate string writing as well as evocative, post-minimalist shimmers of vibraphone and percussion, and urgent electric guitar and drum kit… alternately melancholic, agitated and poignant… the musical offspring of Britten’s Sea Interludes and Eno’s Music for Airports…[serving] to confirm Snider’s deft command of many different musical languages.” (full article)

–John Schaefer, eMusic, November 5, 2010 (Editor’s Pick)

“…the journey through Penelope—achingly stark, sparse, swaying, and soaring—begs repeated listening with an attentive ear. The way hints of Radiohead and David Lang materialize and mingle with St. Vincent and Chopin only to be reabsorbed into an aural landscape that is uniquely—ineffably—the voice of Sarah Kirkland Snider, results in what is easily the most beautiful album of the year.” (full article)

The Indie Handbook, “Penelope: A Labor of Love,” October 28, 2010

“[Penelope] features a genre-blending style compelling enough to throw categorizations to the wind and revel in its unique dialect.” (full article)

–Alexandra Gardner, New Music Box, October 19, 2010

“Mesmerizing…lush, evocative, and deeply moving.”

Time Out New York, October 13, 2010

“To my recollection, Penelope is the most vivid, mesmerizing psychological nightmare set to music I’ve heard… [possessing] an unabashed pop sensibility and a subtle sophistication… The result is a supremely polished yet genuine and spontaneous-sounding album that bursts with maturity.”  (full article)

–Daniel J. Kushner, Post-Post Rock, October 25, 2010

“…truly epic.”

The Utne Reader, September 1, 2010

“In the last decade or so, a new breed of conservatory-trained musicians has reinvented crossover in unprecedented ways, fusing classical tradition with hip-hop, indie rock and world music and providing new, exciting audience bridges among these forms at the same time. A good example is New York composer Sarah Kirkland Snider’s rock-tinged song cycle “Penelope”, with a score that combines strings and harp with drums, guitars and electronics.”

–Kyle MacMillan, The Denver Post, December 12, 2010

“Snider’s music was at once plainly expressive and rich in nuance, with alluring harmonies, arresting chromatic twists and an abundance of instrumental color. Call “Penelope” what you will (indie post-classical chamber pop drama?), it’s an amazing, beguiling work.” (full article)

The Oregonian, February 3, 2013

“Snider’s score is the very model of smart, contemporary “music savant”—”knowing music” engaged with the “classical” tradition but unafraid to trot out the tools of “popular” music to suit its purposes… Penelope is, for me, the finest, most indispensable and potentially lasting new work I have heard or am likely to hear this year.” (full article)

–George Wallace, A Fool in the Forest, November 3, 2010

“Remarkable… a beautiful cycle of songs… limns the boundaries between art song, chamber folk and post-rock.”

WNYC, John Schaeffer, September 9, 2010

“The overwhelmingly moving concept [of Penelope] is balanced by clear, concentrated and undemonstrative writing…[Snider] reveals it with sympathy and trusts that we will hear and respond, deeply, in our own way…The results are powerfully elegiac but not hopeless. Penelope does not settle on a complete, clichéd resolution, but offers the evidence that proves the possibilities of humanity.” (full article)

–George Grella, The Big City, “OK Composer,” October 1, 2010

“This must be what going mad feels like.” (full article)

Popshifter, October 26, 2010

“Sarah Kirkland Snider has generated a minor critical tsunami this year with Penelope… [we’re] abnormally proud to premiere the absolutely stunning video for “The Lotus Eaters”, one of several haunting numbers from Penelopethat taunts me for merely saying that it defies description.”

My Old Kentucky Blog, November 3, 2010

“[A] weary bewilderment threads through [Penelope]… there are many secrets that can’t be unraveled on a first listen… The catchiness of the music, though, draws us to seek out meaning, and repeated listenings don’t disappoint.” (full article)

–Chris Kompanek, The Avantgardist, Classical TV, November 8, 2010

“subtly explosive…the roar of applause at the end seemed as cathartic as it was genuine.” (full article)

Lucid Culture, “Some Auspicious Debuts at le Poisson Rouge,” October 21, 2010

“a dreamy song cycle for the indie rock generation.” (full clip)

–Marlon Bishop, WNYC Culture, October 18, 2010

“The phrases and the underlying harmonies would sound completely at home on a Radiohead record.  For Snider too, Kid A was a record that offered a way out of a strict classical/rock divide, and Penelope is clearly the result.  It’s long, narrative arc is dramatic in the manner of Schumann and Schubert, but the understated, ambiguous resolution captures the questioning stance of so much of Radiohead’s material…” (full article)

–George Grella, Classical TV, “On the Myth of Difficult Music,” 9/20/10

“‘This Is What You’re Like’ is an adroitly constructed composition… however, this is a song that does not forget that it is in fact a song—an impressive accomplishment for a classically trained composer… Snider anchors the intermittently dense proceedings with a recurring, bittersweet melodic refrain that I’d call a chorus except that she plays with it each time so it’s never quite the same twice. It’s a lovely and affecting melody… ” (full article)

–Jeremy Schlosberg, Fingertips Music, August 24, 2010

“It feels like every day a new [songwriting] talent comes calling to the masses for their praise.  Not many stand out and quite often they seem redundant.  In the coming months composer Sarah Kirkland Snider shouldn’t have to worry about such trivial matters, at least if her new single “This Is What You’re Like” is any indication of what’s to come.”

Indie Rock Reviews, March 9, 2010

“…But as a music critic who might “Bah!” and “Arrgh!” at some new [style] of work I can with confidence say that “This Is What You’re Like” is awesome. It’s such a well-crafted song with intense emotion and wonderful instrumentation. The vocals are classic My Brightest Diamond and hearing Worden in a slightly different and unique setting is just thrilling.”

– Knox Road, March 11, 2010, “MP3 of the Day”

“[An] epic debut album…showcasing a breathtaking vocal performance from My Brightest Diamond’s Shara Worden set to a haunting string arrangement.”

Filter Magazine, September 28, 2010

“[“This Is What You’re Like”] is both epic and heartbreaking with broad, orchestral movements that push it along.”

Trend Robot, March 12, 2010, “Track of the Day”


Germany: Der Schallplattenmann sagt: (5/5 stars, No. 1 Album of 2010)
France: Indie Rock Magazine (No. 7 Album of 2010)
Italy: JAM Magazine Profile
France: Little Reviews (8.5 out of 10)
France: Inactuelles Musiques Singulieres
Germany: Popkontext
Turkey: Eksisozluk
Netherlands: 3voor12 (live review, Shara Worden and Residentie Orkest Den Haag)
Netherlands: Roar E-Zine (live review, Shara Worden and Residentie Orkest Den Haag)

[Daughter of the Waves]


The Seattle Times, August 1, 2014

“[yMusic] represented a step up in the quality of both performance and music. I particularly liked Sarah Kirkland Snider’s substantial Daughter of the Waves.”

–Anne Midgette, The Washington Post, December 2, 2012

“yMusic’s rich timbral colour comes especially to the fore during Sarah Kirkland Snider’s evocative “Daughter of the Waves” when a luscious weave of strings, horns, flute, and clarinet conjures imagery associated with mythology and—shades of her remarkable 2010 album, Penelope—Homer’s Odyssey. Filled with contrasts of mood, Snider’s standout piece exudes a dream-like flow as it moves through its myriad passages, with a late ruminative episode especially powerful.”

textura, November 1, 2011

“Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Daughter of the Waves then ratcheted things up a notch (or seven), taking a little bit of a Nirvana influence on board with a mixed octet (shaken, not… nevermind). Naturally, an electric guitar took center stage…Musical outbursts amidst the instrumental interplay offered more than a few headbanging moments with Waves, and irregular time signatures drove the piece. Later, a smattering of phrases amongst the octet broke way to guitar chords that were revelatory in their simplicity.”

Wolfgang’s Tonic In July, October 16, 2015

“point-perfect…thoughtful and compelling.”

Glide Magazine, November 2011

“Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Daughter of the Waves proves to be a compelling exercise in dark liquescence, its initial surface calm disrupted and disturbed by dream-like interjections that border on the hallucinogenic and nightmarish in places. If the rock music element claimed to be integral throughout is at its most elusive here in Snider’s hauntingly wistful and restless fantasy, its absence doesn’t distract from its credentials as an imaginative and rewarding new work for classical chamber ensemble.”

The Classical Review, November 16, 2011

“Sarah Kirkland Snider, the composer of Penelope, revisits its agitated sound world with “Daughter of the Waves”, a nine-minute swirl of muted anxiety.”

Pitchfork, December 2, 2011

“…simultaneously anthemic and hypnotic, and also ebbs and goes out gracefully, almost like a ghost.”

Lucid Culture, September 18, 2011

“[Daughter of the Waves] takes a delicate, almost Impressionist approach, with ebullient cascades of sound along the way.”

Sequenza 21, October 18, 2011

“… cinematic… In the course of almost 9 minutes, [Daughter of the Waves] actually feels like it goes somewhere and stays there. Featuring undulating melodies that gets passed throughout the ensemble to represent waves, there’s also lush instrumentation on top and swells of emotive action.”

Middle Class White Noise, October 17, 2011

“Sarah Kirkland Snider’s “Daughter of the Waves”, which takes its title from the translation of the name of Snider’s newborn daughter, also ventured briefly into [extended technique] territory with an episode of crunches and groans in the strings, but was overall gorgeously lyrical…”

I Care If You Listen, December 19, 2100

[The Currents]

“The title track, by Sarah Kirkland Snider, is a real standout. It adroitly covers a wide swath of both emotional and technical terrain. Thus, it is an ideal solo vehicle for Mizrahi…”

–Christian B. Carey, Sequenza 21, March 26, 2016

Sarah Kirkland Snider’s 2013 eponymously titled piece, The Currents, effectively avoids indulging emotion, favoring subtle atmospheric suggestion, true to 19th century impressionism. Flowing lyricism in the upper registers are accompanied by brooding ostinato from the left hand. The piece, however, is not without its surprises. On several occasions, the tone changes in unprepared modulation. Mizrahi’s performance breathes life to the notes at these moments with abrupt dynamic and temporal shifts. At times tempestuous, at others placid, The Currents is a force of nature—both monsoon and mild breeze.”  

–Norman Cahn, I Care If You Listen, August 16, 2016

“In entrancing the listener with the slow dazzle of its intertwining patterns, Mizrahi’s rendition of Snider’s “The Currents” sets the mark high at the outset. There’s a lilting, Debussy-like flow to the material that does, in fact, suggest water movements, especially when the music fluctuates between the rapid motion visible at one stage in a river and the peaceful calm evident elsewhere…

textura, April 2016

“The Currents” is very much a song-without-words, a distillation of the color and lyricism of those cycles [Penelope and Unremembered] into a melodic and idiomatic solo number.”

WQXR, Daniel Stephen Johnson, March 21, 2016

–“…this solo piano piece carries the same flowing lyricism and sensitivity as Snider’s vocal music—but without any of the words. Mizrahi’s fingers swim gracefully through the ebb and flow of the piece, beautifully capturing the depth and breadth of colors that make the currents come to life.”

–Molly Molloy, Second Inversion, April 11, 2016


“…strictly from the evidence presented here, [Sarah Kirkland Snider] is a potentially significant voice on the American music landscape. The idea of the piece is to explore the inner agitation beneath self-imposed composure — a promising prescription for harmonic layering that’s successfully realized in any number of ways. Disquiet is framed by long-held string chords with pregnant two- and three-note motifs that germinate into events that consistently refuse to touch base with the usual emotional colors. Even a four-note trombone motif that might normally sound foreboding instead conveyed apprehension; it was followed by a shower of potentially ecstatic string pizzicato effects that instead conveyed a nuanced dose of anxiety.”

— David Patrick Stearns, Philadelphia Inquirer, May 15, 2012


The New York Times, September 5, 2014

“Rather than depicting “disquiet” primarily via its pitch or rhythmic language, creating abundant dissonances or angularity, Snider takes another approach: uneasiness is primarily delineated by the work’s formal design. Thus, one may at first be surprised to hear its often lush harmonies and strong melodic thrust. But as Disquiet unfolds, a labyrinth of disparate gestures and contrasting sections, often supplied in quick succession, imparts the title’s requisite restive sensibility… One hopes that…Snider will get the opportunity to create more works for  orchestra.”

— Christian Carey, Sequenza 21, May 15, 2012

“…lush, with many orchestral colors, and despite its title, [it begins] peacefully with almost imperceptible violins…Ms. Snider offered some unusual combinations of instruments in this piece… [which was] very audience-friendly because of its sonorities and the many different colors in the texture. ”

— Town Topics, May 15, 2012

“…Snider’s emotional immediacy and sense of narrative were arresting…”

The Yale Daily News, April 8, 2005

[Pale As Centuries]

“From its opening guitar notes, Sarah Kirkland Snider’s “Pale As Centuries” conjures the ornate beauty of antiquity and strips it away to show every layer and bone. Budde’s clarinet and Sopp’s flute circle higher around one another into flights of fancy that crystallize into gorgeous shapes. When Dancigers’ sharp, percussive chords rise to the fore like a summer storm, it’s a clarion call to attention before melting back into a thick sensual bass and bass clarinet thrum with thick strokes of flute.”

Agit Reader, June 10, 2015

“Sarah Kirkland Snider’s “Pale as Centuries” gets a lot mileage out of the simple guitar figure that opens the work. “Pale as Centuries” builds in intensity and drive as the full ensemble enters, expanding the opening figure and introducing new material all while moving from musical collage to a single, organic musical statement.”

I Care If You Listen, Sept. 3, 2015

“The ensemble again switches gears for Sarah Kirkland Snider’s “Pale as Centuries,” a musical collage which combines diverse, distinctive, and sometimes even mismatched melodic fragments into a single cohesive image.”

Second Inversion, May 26, 2015

[Scenes from UNREMEMBERED]

“Snider’s work was especially fresh, with a “downtown” jive feel. Composed for an octet named Roomful of Teeth, it begs for more in-your-face expression and a pop sensibility…Snider was especially successful at lengthening short bits of text for emphasis and form, and I never felt her use of text was gratuitous.”

The San Francisco Classical Voice, November 22, 2013


“…winsome melodies and sophisticated harmonies…”

–Steve Smith, The New York Times, March 26, 2012

“With music set to a vivid and vaguely Victorian text by Nathaniel Bellows, Snider knows how to expertly play with nostalgia and memory, layering remembrances with contrasting rhythms and lines that collide and divide with an affable ebb and flow.”

–Olivia Giovetti, WQXR, Operavore, March 26, 2012

“…a sensitive and affective setting of a poem by Nathaniel Bellows—a skillful composition built out of an ostinato and bright diatonic chords.”

The Brooklyn Rail, May 5, 2012

[The Orchard]

“The most striking composition on the bill might have been Sarah Kirkland Snider’s The Orchard, sung with vivid unease by bass Cameron Beauchamp over rhythmic insistence from the women and warily shifting textures from the rest of the crew. In its dark heart, it turned out to be a pensive, folk-tinged art-rock anthem for choir. After a descent into moody ambience, the ensemble let it linger austerely at the end. In its own understated way, it was a showstopper.”

Lucid Culture, October 7, 2012

 “Sarah Kirkland Snider’s The Orchard is sensuous and beautiful, and possibly a little darker than it seems at first.”

eMusic (John Schaefer), December 4, 2012

[Thread and Fray]

“…Thread and Fray, a tautly constructed and poignant work, interweaves short motives with a sensitive intimacy.”

The Boston Musical Intelligencer, January 17, 2011

“…angular and gracefully expansive…”

–Allan Kozinn, The New York Times, April 1, 2009

“We had a European premiere of Thread And Fray, by the American Sarah Kirkland Snider, and this (for viola, bass clarinet and marimba) was the gem among the rest, with a real melody set against dancing, repetitive accompanying patterns and with a warm, tonal-style harmonic basis. Let’s hope there will be more where that lovely miniature came from.”

The Manchester Evening News November 22, 2007

“A highlight was Thread and Fray, Sarah Kirkland Snider’s lyrical trio for viola, bass clarinet and marimba, good music that could have gone on longer.”

–George Grella, The Big City, April 3, 2009 (MATA Festival 2009)


“Intimacy, in fact, was the hallmark of the concert…to the luminous Romanticism of Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Shiner, in which [Colin] Currie’s delectable marimba playing was garlanded by the soft colours of harp, viola and trombone, with John Kenny’s tenor trombone playing showing the instrument at its most tender, lyrical and avuncular.”

The Herald Scotland, April 2008

“[Shiner] was my first encounter with Ms. Snider’s music, and this piece is a little gem – effectively a one movement trombone concerto for marimba, viola, harp and trombone…a continually shifting, shimmering texture that weaves through modal relationships, sometimes quite surprising in their juxtaposition, always full of light and shade, whilst the trombone carries the principal melodic lines, evading any notion of Romantic virtuosity, but singing the line and then commenting upon the material…Very sympathetically written for the instrument, this is a most rewarding addition to the solo & chamber repertoire…The depth of texture is astonishing given the tiny forces involved – [the] viola seemed to encapsulate an entire string section, whilst the harp and marimba interlocked to create all necessary rhythmic & harmonic colours to render the piece completely satisfying.”

–John Kenny, Carnyx & Co., May 2, 2008

[The Reserved, The Reticent]

“…a work of impassioned, old-fashioned eloquence.”

–Justin Davidson, New York Magazine, November 14, 2010

“[Mariel] Roberts handled Sarah Kirkland Snider’s “The Reserved, The Reticent” with hardly a reservation. Her rhythmic swipes dug deep into the strings, and commanded the instrument’s full range all at once. The energy relinquished in volume but never intensity as the piece moved to a conversational middle section, where the melody was glided between pizzicato and bowed statements. The opening double-stop was resounded in the concluding moments and served as the basis for a dramatically executed final statement.”

The Glass, June 10, 2012

[Stanzas in Meditation]

“Over the weekend, the densely populated Look & Listen Festival offered some startling voices new to me, such as…Sarah Kirkland Snider with her graceful Stanzas in Meditation.”

–Bruce Hodges, Monotonous Forest, May 8, 2006

“Sarah Kirkland Snider’s graceful Stanzas in Meditation, with texts by Gertrude Stein, hauntingly sung by Lisa Bielawa and Sadie Rosales with Cloutier on harp…Snider’s deft interweaving of the two voices in close intervals, against a harp part that harked back to Ravel, seemed to complement the slight echo of Stein’s words.”, May 21, 2006


“Snider’s Ballade was a composition inspired by the 4th Chopin Ballade often employing polyrhythms (such as Chopin used in the last set of three etudes) and romantic musical devices while maintaining a contemporary harmonic palette…interesting and compelling throughout.”

Sequenza 21, November 10, 2006


“…masterfully composed.  Flowing and impressionistic, rolling waves of sound inspired poetic musings…a very well-written, virtuosic piece that never seemed uneccessarily so.”

–International New Music Consortium, July 6, 1999

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