Recently deemed “one of new music’s leading names” (Gramophone), one of the “Top 35 Female Composers in Classical Music” (The Washington Post), and “a rising star on the American compositional scene” (The Wall Street Journal), 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). Featuring an attention to detail that is “as intricate and exquisite as a spider’s web” (BBC Music Magazine), Snider’s music organically synthesizes diverse influences to render a nuanced command of immersive storytelling. In a 2022 profile of her music, Gramophone wrote: “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.” Gothamist NYC writes: “Sarah Kirkland Snider is among the most impressive younger composers in the New York new-music scene. Her music can sound ageless and contemporary at once, with an emotional impact that's direct and immediate."
Snider’s works have been commissioned and/or performed by the New York Philharmonic; Boston Symphony Orchestra; Cleveland Orchestra; National Symphony Orchestra; San Francisco Symphony; Detroit Symphony Orchestra; St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; Philharmonia Orchestra; Britten Sinfonia; Melbourne Symphony Orchestra; National Arts Centre Orchestra; Residentie Orkest; Birmingham Royal Ballet; soprano Renée Fleming and baritone Will Liverman; Deutsche Grammophon for mezzo Emily D’Angelo; percussionist Colin Currie; vocalist Shara Nova; Emerson String Quartet; 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, Colorado, Cross-linx, Ecstatic, Koorbiënnale, London Handel, Podium, Ravinia, Sundance, and Tanglewood.
Recent major works include Forward Into Light, an orchestral commission for the New York Philharmonic inspired by the American women’s suffrage movement; Drink the Wild Ayre, the final commission by the legendary Emerson String Quartet for their farewell tour; 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 mezzo-soprano Emily D’Angelo’s 2022 Juno Award-winning Classical Album of the Year, Enargeia. 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 and was named Best Ballet Premiere of 2018 by Dance Europe. Mass for the Endangered, her 2018 Trinity Wall Street-commissioned 45’ work for SATB choir and ensemble – a celebration of and elegy for the natural world – has since been programmed by dozens of choirs the world over, including Cappella Amsterdam, Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble, Houston Chamber Choir, the Pacific Chorale, Phoenix Chorale, Resonance Ensemble, Schola Cantorum (Norway), the Three Choirs Festival, Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, Vancouver Bach Choir, Verdigris Ensemble, Vlaams Radiokoor, and Voces Solis, among others.
Snider is currently at work on Hildegard, an opera about 12th c. visionary/polymath/composer 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 (venue TBA) in 2025. Other upcoming projects include a large multimedia orchestral work with video artist Deborah Johnson; a piano concerto; and a large work for the Colin Currie Group.
Snider has four critically acclaimed full-length LP releases. October 2022 saw the Nonesuch/New Amsterdam Records co-release of The Blue Hour, a collaborative song cycle for Shara Nova and A Far Cry string orchestra, co-written with Rachel Grimes, Angélica Negrón, Shara Nova, and Caroline Shaw, on poetry by Carolyn Forché. The album was named to NPR’s Top Ten Albums of 2022 (all genres), and received critical acclaim from BBC Music Magazine, The Boston Globe, The Nation, NPR, The Guardian, VAN, and many others.
In September 2020, Snider released Mass for the Endangered on Nonesuch/New Amsterdam Records, 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 high praise from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Gramophone, BBC Music Magazine, The Boston Globe, Opera News, The San Francisco Classical Voice, and many others, 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” (NPR Top Ten Classical Albums of 2020.)
Among Snider’s most celebrated works are two albums of genre-defying orchestral song cycles: Penelope (New Amsterdam, 2010) and Unremembered (New Amsterdam, 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 Ensemble Signal. Named the Top Classical Album of 2010 by Time Out New York and one of NPR’s Top Five Genre-Defying Albums of 2010, the album also drew acclaim 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 genre-fluid 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 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 in 2015 and 2016. In 2017, a live performance of Unremembered with Newsome, Nova, and Stith toured the U.S. and Europe.
Snider’s music can also 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). Spring 2024 will see the release of her song “Everything That Ever Was,”on a poem by Tracy K. Smith, commissioned by Renée Fleming and Will Liverman, on an album for Cedille 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; Denmark’s Engelsholm Castle Composition Program; the HighScore Festival in Pavia, Italy; Soundstreams Canada RBC Bridges Program; Vanderbilt University; University of Colorado-Boulder; the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival; Nief-Norf Festival; Decoda Skidmore Chamber Music Institute; the Bowling Green State University New Music Festival; and the So Percussion Summer Institute. She has given masterclasses and lectures on her work at Columbia University, CUNY, Duke University, Princeton University, Mannes School of Music, New York University, North Carolina School of the Arts, University of Illinois–Champaign Urbana, University of Texas–Austin, USC Thornton School of Music, and Yale School of Music, among other institutions. In Fall 2023, she will be Visiting Lecturer at Princeton University, co-teaching (with Gabriel Crouch) a course on her opera through the Lewis Center for the Arts.
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-Artistic Director, along with William Brittelle and Judd Greenstein, of New Amsterdam Records, a Brooklyn-based non-profit record label recently called “emblematic of an emerging generation” (The New York Times) and praised for “releasing one quality disc after another” (Newsweek.) “Few organizations have done more to shape 21st-century music in New York City" (Time Out New York.)
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.
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 “ravishingly beautiful” (NPR). 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; Boston Symphony Orchestra; Cleveland Orchestra; San Francisco Symphony; National Symphony Orchestra; Detroit Symphony Orchestra; Philharmonia Orchestra; Birmingham Royal Ballet; Emerson String Quartet; Renée Fleming and Will Liverman; Deutsche Grammophon for mezzo Emily D’Angelo; percussionist Colin Currie; eighth blackbird; A Far Cry; and Roomful of Teeth, among many others. The winner of the 2014 Detroit Symphony Orchestra Lebenbom Competition, Snider’s recent works include Forward Into Light, an orchestral commission for the New York Philharmonic inspired by American women suffragists; Drink the Wild Ayre, the final commission for the legendary Emerson String Quartet’s farewell tour; Mass for the Endangered, a Trinity Wall Street-commissioned prayer for the environment for choir and ensemble, programmed by dozens of choirs the world over; Embrace, an orchestral ballet for the Birmingham Royal Ballet; and Hildegard, an upcoming opera on 12th c. visionary/polymath/composer St. Hildegard von Bingen commissioned by Beth Morrison Projects, to premiere (venue TBA) in 2025. Her four full-length LPs – The Blue Hour (Nonesuch/New Amsterdam, 2022), Mass for the Endangered (Nonesuch/New Amsterdam, 2020), Unremembered (New Amsterdam, 2015), and Penelope (New Amsterdam, 2010) – have garnered year-end nods and critical acclaim from The New York Times, NPR, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times, Gramophone Magazine, Pitchfork, BBC Music Magazine, The Nation, and many others. A founding Co-Artistic Director of Brooklyn-based non-profit New Amsterdam Records, Snider has an M.M. and Artist’s Diploma from the Yale School of Music, and a B.A. from Wesleyan University. She will be a Visiting Lecturer at Princeton University in Fall 2023. Her music is published by G. Schirmer.