• Sarah Kirkland Snider
  • The Currents (2013)

  • G Schirmer Inc (World)

Commissioned by the American Piano Association

  • Piano
  • 7 min 30 s

Programme Note

Composer note:
The Currents was commissioned by the American Pianists Association for its Classical Fellowship Awards. Piano was my first instrument and musical passion, so a solo piano commission for a competition initially intimidated me. I know the literature well — how deeply and imaginatively the instrument has been explored, how difficult it is to invent new ways to challenge the pianist. There is an idea that a piece written for a competition should do this, that it should invent new technical demands and showcase pyrotechnical dazzle. When I was younger, I wrote some piano music that consciously strove for virtuosity, but these days I'm more interested in getting at what is most peculiarly personal and in need of expression.

So when I was asked to write this piece, I decided my contribution would be something that challenged the pianist to be at their most expressive, poetic, and lyrical, something that would reward a sharp attention to detail and sensitivity to pacing and narrative. Of course, the fact that it was for a competition never fully left my mind, so the piece does require a formidable technique, but my hope is that The Currents allows the performer to focus on storytelling as well — skills that, to my mind, are just as essential to becoming an unforgettable pianist.

The title of the piece, and the overall emotional impetus, was inspired by a larger cycle of poems, Unremembered, by poet Nathaniel Bellows, which I set a few years ago. The cycle is about memory, innocence, and the ways we cope with an unpredictable world. The line from which I drew the title reads "But like the hidden current/somewhere undersea/you caused the most upheaval on the other side of me."

— Sarah Kirkland Snider

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The Currents

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