Sarah Kirkland Snider

b. 1973

American

Summary

Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider writes music of direct expression and vivid narrative that has been hailed as “rapturous” (The New York Times), “groundbreaking” (The Boston Globe), and “poignant, deeply personal” (The New Yorker). Recently named one of the “Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music” by The Washington Post, Snider’s works have been commissioned and/or performed by the New York Philharmonic, San Francisco Symphony, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Birmingham Royal Ballet, soprano Renée Fleming and baritone Will Liverman, Deutsche Grammophon for mezzo Emily D’Angelo, vocalist Shara Nova, eighth blackbird, A Far Cry, and Roomful of Teeth, among many others. The winner of the 2014 Detroit Symphony Orchestra Lebenbom Competition, her upcoming projects include the world premiere of Forward Into Light, an orchestral commission inspired by the American women’s suffrage movement for the New York Philharmonic, and an opera on 12th-century polymath St. Hildegard von Bingen, commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects. Penelope and Unremembered, her first two LP song cycles, earned critical acclaim from The New York Times, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Gramophone Magazine, and Pitchfork, among others. In fall 2020, Nonesuch Records and New Amsterdam Records released Snider’s third LP: Mass for the Endangered, a Trinity Wall Street-commissioned prayer for the environment performed by English vocal ensemble Gallicantus, to wide critical acclaim. In naming the album to its Best of 2020 list, NPR proclaimed: “Snider must be recognized as one of today's most compelling composers for the human voice." A founding Co-Artistic Director of Brooklyn-based non-profit New Amsterdam Records, Snider has an M.A. and Artist’s Diploma from the Yale School of Music, and a B.A. from Wesleyan University. Her music is published by G. Schirmer.  

May 2022

Critical Acclaim
It is Snider's fresh, instinctive way with voices that sets her apart from most of her peers.
-Tom Huizenga, The Washington Post

A composer with an enviable knack for crafting moody, strikingly beautiful works.
-Time Out New York

One of the decade's most gifted, up-and-coming modern classical composers.
-Pitchfork

Biography

Recently deemed “a rising star on the American compositional scene” (The Wall Street Journal), “one of the decade’s more gifted, up-and-coming modern classical composers” (Pitchfork), and “an important representative of 21st-century trends in composition” (New York Classical Review), composer Sarah Kirkland Snider writes music of direct expression and dramatic narrative that has been hailed as “rapturous” (The New York Times), “groundbreaking” (The Boston Globe), and “ravishingly beautiful” (NPR). With an attention to detail that is “as intricate and exquisite as a spider’s web” (BBC Music Magazine), Snider’s music organically synthesizes a diversity of influences to render a nuanced command of immersive storytelling. In a 2022 profile of her music, Gramophone Magazine writes: “Expressive, evocative, and personal, Sarah Kirkland Snider’s music explores emotional landscapes through vivid, compelling narratives [with] a unique sound world that she has made identifiably her own – familiar, yet at the same time strange and unsettling.”

Recently named one of the “Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music” by The Washington Post, Snider’s works have been commissioned and/or performed by the New York Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, National Arts Centre Orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Residentie Orkest, soprano Renée Fleming and baritone Will Liverman, Deutsche Grammophon for mezzo Emily D’Angelo, vocalist Shara Nova, percussionist Colin Currie, eighth blackbird, A Far Cry, The Knights, and Roomful of Teeth, among many others. Her music has been heard in concert halls around the world including Carnegie Hall, the Elbphilharmonie, the Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center, Sadler’s Wells, the Sydney Opera House, and Wigmore Hall; and programmed at festivals including Aspen, BAM NextWave, Bang On a Can, Big Ears, Cabrillo, Cross-linx, Ecstatic, Hradec Králové Music Forum, Koorbiënnale, London Handel, Podium, Ravinia, and Sundance.

Recent works include Forward Into Light, an orchestral commission for the New York Philharmonic inspired by the American women’s suffrage movement, to premiere (following a two-year Covid delay) on its 21/22 season finale concert at Carnegie Hall under the baton of Jaap Van Zweden. 2020 saw the Nonesuch/New Amsterdam Records release of her album Mass for the Endangered, a Trinity Wall Street-commissioned 45’ work for SATB choir and ensemble performed by English vocal ensemble Gallicantus. A prayer for the natural world with a libretto by poet Nathaniel Bellows (interpolated with the original Latin), Mass for the Endangered drew critical acclaim from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, The Boston Globe, Opera News, and The San Francisco Classical Voice, with The New Yorker writing: “the work proclaims Snider’s technical command and unerring knack for breathtaking beauty,” and NPR declaring that “Snider must be recognized as one of today’s most compelling composers for the human voice” (The 10 Best Albums of 2020.) The Mass will see sixteen performances during the 21/22 season, by choirs including the Cappella Amsterdam, Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble, Gallicantus, and the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir.

Other recent works include You Must Feel with Certainty, a commission from the Guggenheim Museum for VOX vocal ensemble to celebrate its Hilma af Klint retrospective; The Blue Hour, a collaborative song cycle for Shara Nova and A Far Cry string orchestra on poetry by Carolyn Forché; and new songs commissioned by Deutsche Grammophon for the widely-acclaimed debut album by mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo, whose performance of Snider’s song Nausicaa was named one of the Best Songs of 2021 by NPR. In 2018, Embrace, her 45’ orchestral ballet with British choreographer George Williamson commissioned by the Birmingham Royal Ballet, premiered at London’s Sadler’s Wells Theatre to critical acclaim. A highly personal work exploring ideas of sexuality and identity, Embrace was named Best Ballet Premiere of 2018 by Dance Europe, with Classical Source writing of the music: “a tremendous commission: Snider creates a thrilling sound world, rich and satisfying…a superb score.” 

Among Snider’s most celebrated works are two critically-acclaimed albums of genre-defying orchestral song cycles: Penelope (New Amsterdam, 2010) and Unremembered (NewAmsterdam, 2015). Commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Center with lyrics by playwright Ellen McLaughlin about the long-suffering wife of Homer’s Odysseus, Penelope features vocalist Shara Nova and chamber orchestra Ensemble Signal. It was named the Top Classical Album of 2010 by Time Out New York and one of NPR’s Top Five Genre-Defying Albums of 2010, also drawing high praise from The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Gramophone Magazine, New York Magazine, and many others, with Pitchfork writing: “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.” Since its premiere, Penelope has received over 60 performances in the U.S. and abroad. Unremembered, a 60’ song cycle for vocalists Padma Newsome, Shara Nova, and D.M. Stith; chamber orchestra; and electronics, was inspired by poems and illustrations by Nathaniel Bellows about a haunted childhood in rural Massachusetts. Hailed as “a masterpiece” (Paste) and “an intricately magical landscape” (New York Magazine) that “attests to Ms. Snider’s thorough command of musical mood setting” (The New York Times), Unremembered was named to dozens of year-end lists internationally including The Washington Post and The Nation, and was voted one of the “50 Best Classical Works of the Past Twenty Years” by WQXR radio listeners in both 2015 and 2016. In 2017, a live performance of Unremembered toured the U.S. and Europe.

In addition to Mass for the Endangered, Unremembered, and Penelope, Snider’s music can be found on eleven other recordings, including Emily D’Angelo’s Enargeia (Deutsche Grammophon), Cantus’s Manifesto (Signum), and Roomful of Teeth’s Grammy-Award winning eponymous debut (New Amsterdam). Her collaborative song cycle, The Blue Hour, for Shara Nova and A Far Cry, co-written with Rachel Grimes, Angélica Negrón, Shara Nova, and Caroline Shaw, will release Fall 2022 on Nonesuch/New Amsterdam Records.

The winner of the 2014 Detroit Symphony Orchestra Lebenbom Competition, Snider has also received grants and awards from Opera America, National Endowment for the Arts, Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Music USA, the Sorel Organization, the Jerome Composers Commissioning Fund, and many others. She has been Composer-in-Residence at Winnipeg New Music Festival; University of Colorado-Boulder; Soundstreams RBC Bridges Program; the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival; Nief-Norf Festival; Decoda Skidmore Chamber Music Institute; the Bowling Green State University New Music Festival; the HighSCORE Festival in Pavia, Italy; and the So Percussion Summer Institute. In Fall 2022 she will be Composition Faculty at Denmark’s KompositionsCamp. She has given masterclasses and lectures on her work at Columbia University, Princeton University, Yale School of Music, Duke University, New York University, CUNY, Vanderbilt University, University of Illinois, Mannes School of Music, USC Thornton School of Music, and North Carolina School of the Arts, among other institutions.

Snider is currently at work on an opera about 12th-century visionary/polymath St. Hildegard von Bingen, on a libretto Snider is writing herself. Commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects, the opera has received two grants from Opera America, will be workshopped by the Princeton University Lewis Center for the Arts Atelier program in 2023, and will premiere in 2024. Other upcoming projects include a piano concerto, a large multimedia orchestral work, and works for choir, string quartet, and harp.

In addition to her work as a composer, Snider is a passionate advocate for new music in New York and beyond. From 2001 to 2007, she co-curated the Look & Listen Festival, a new music series set in modern art galleries. Since 2007 she has served as Co-Director, along with William Brittelle and Judd Greenstein, of New Amsterdam Records, a Brooklyn-based non-profit record label recently called “the focal point of the post-classical scene” (Time Out New York), “emblematic of an emerging generation” (The New York Times), and praised for “releasing one quality disc after another” (Newsweek). 

Born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, Snider has an M.M. and Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music and a B.A. from Wesleyan University. In 2006 she was a Schumann Fellow at the Aspen Music Festival. Her teachers included Martin Bresnick, Marc-Andre Dalbavie, Justin Dello Joio, Aaron Jay Kernis, Ezra Laderman, David Lang, and Christopher Rouse. She lives in Princeton with her husband, Steven; son, Jasper; and daughter, Dylan.

Her music is published by G. Schirmer.‍

 

May 2022

News

Performances

21st August 2022

PERFORMERS
PODIUM Ensemble
LOCATION
Kloster Bebenhausen, Tübingen, Germany

11th September 2022

PERFORMERS
Shift Orchestra Project with Cappella Clausura
CONDUCTOR
David Allen Flowers
LOCATION
Emmanuel Church, Boston , MA, United States of America

26th October 2022

PERFORMERS
IU University Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
David Hayes
LOCATION
Musical Arts Center Indiana University, Bloomington , IN, United States of America

29th October 2022

SOLOISTS
Voces Solis
PERFORMERS
Wheeling Symphony Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
John Devlin
LOCATION
Scottish Rite Cathedral, Wheeling , WV, United States of America

30th October 2022

SOLOISTS
Voces Solis
PERFORMERS
Wheeling Symphony Orchestra
CONDUCTOR
John Devlin
LOCATION
United Methodist church, Bethel Park , PA, United States of America

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