“Expressive, evocative, and personal, Sarah Kirkland Snider’s music explores emotional landscapes through vivid, compelling narratives…[her] distinctive blend of classical, rock, ambient, and minimalist elements [is] a unique sound world that she has made identifiably her own – familiar, yet at the same time strange and unsettling.”
“One of the most powerful expressions of the indie classical style is Snider’s breakthrough work, 'Penelope'… [It] maintains a high level of emotional and expressive intensity while demonstrating the composer’s innate ability to present powerful and evocative stories through music.”
"Snider's gripping settings of Bellows' gothic fables [in 'Unremembered']...capture the sense of awe, wonderment, fear, panic, and loss of innocence as experienced through a child's eyes...[evoking] the Gothic horror of an Edgar Allen Poe story. The music sounds more complex and multilayered than 'Penelope' but is nevertheless full of bold gestures, sharp contrasts and polarized emotions.”
"Always a bit otherworldly and ethereal, Snider’s music gives in to each of the four elements, both at different points throughout [Mass for the Endangered] and, occasionally, within the same movement...At certain points, it feels like a trail that has been tread for centuries—witness Britten’s choral writings, informed by the traditions from the era of Mary, Queen of Scots, or even Mendelssohn’s comparatively grander choral work in “Paulus.” But even more apparent on this relisten is the connective tissue between Snider and [Florence] Price, who both work at times with the same American musical lexicon. It creates familiar ground and deep twilight; the ideal vantage point to find a moment of stillness, or perhaps a beginning."
"It's a relatively short and simple song, but "Nausicaa," in this breathtaking rendition, packs an outsized emotional punch. An aqueous synth intro yields to gently undulating strings, unfurling a subtle red carpet walkway onto which the Canadian mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo makes her majestic, yet intimate, appearance. And with one long, ravishingly phrased line ("Don't be afraid, stranger"), we fall under the spell of the beauty of the human voice."
"...when you pair a knockout voice, like that of mezzo-soprano Emily D'Angelo, with some ravishingly beautiful music by Sarah Kirkland Snider – one of today's most attentive vocal composers – you have a recipe for sublime listening. Listen to how ["Nausicaa"] unfolds in voluptuous, long lines with incandescent orchestration..."
"A brooding album, heavy on drones, mellow chants and sorrowful outpourings, “Enargeia” has its chronological foundation in the solemn music of Hildegard von Bingen, who provides a model for (much) more recent works by Missy Mazzoli, Sarah Kirkland Snider... [including] “The Lotus Eaters,” a lushly wailing song from Snider’s 2009 cycle 'Penelope.'" -- Five Classical Albums to Hear Right Now
"I'm especially struck by the way [Emily] D'Angelo handles selections from Snider's devastatingly lovely, emotionally gripping song cycle 'Penelope'...D'Angelo's performance is her own and distinctive, yet it's not a world away from the original; the new performance honors its forebear without slavish mimickry, the sign of a shrewd interpreter and a durable composition."
“Snider’s arrangement of Bingen’s hymn to divine wisdom O Virtus Sapientiae, in which D’Angelo weaves in and out of the glassy, ethereal textures created by the Kuss Quartet, follows on so organically that it’s hard to believe that the music predates the previous track by a thousand years...Three extracts from Snider’s Homer-inspired song-cycle Penelope also impress, particularly the other-worldly beauty of ‘Nausicaa’ (which finds D’Angelo at her most tonally seductive) and the folkish, appropriately hypnotic ‘The Lotus Eaters’ which brings this bold, imaginative debut album to an unsettling but beguiling close.”
"This ravishing album came to my attention during some of the most disconcerting times of lockdown last year. A sumptuous, but gloriously judged new setting of the Mass, [Mass for the Endangered] caresses, haunts, and illuminates the listener with its tender melodies, and a harmonic language that grasps you smoothly yet firmly." -- Six Things I've Heard I Couldn't Live Without
Snider’s lucid score [for ‘Mass for the Endangered’] is at once powerful and delicate…[with] striking harmonies, imaginative use of texture [and] counterpoint that is as intricate and exquisite as a spider’s web. This a luminous and arresting disc that conveys its urgent ecological message with power and beauty.”
"'Mass for the Endangered’ is musically penetrating and textually provocative…On one level, [it] is a requiem for the natural world…But Snider’s colorful music, while not shying away from the pain of this realization, is, at heart, optimistic, offering a sliver of hope that we may yet save what’s left.” (Critic's Choice)
"American composer Sarah Kirkland Snider adapts the ancient contemplative template of the Catholic Mass to honor and mourn for a burning planet and its wildlife...This premiere recording hands the piece to the luminous British choir Gallicantus." ("10 Reasons to Keep Falling for Classical Music")
"Arresting…shines with multi-layered singing of uncommon beauty…Snider asserts her own musical personality as a composer who knows instinctively how to write for the human voice. Through her smart and resplendent exploration of age-old musical formulas, Snider's eco-inspired 'Mass for the Endangered' is a blast from the past that resonates profoundly in the present.”
“Sarah Kirkland Snider, a rising star on the American compositional scene … describes ['Mass for the Endangered'] as a prayer for endangered wildlife and their imperiled environments. More plea than polemic, the first recording of this riveting work … [is] elegiac and affecting.”
[In Mass for the Endangered], Snider summons from her forces a lustrous wonder... By turns diaphanous and urgent, exultant and wary, the music both immerses us in this perilous era and stirs us to examine our collective conscience… Snider and Bellows’s collaboration is a meeting of questing, unsettled minds.”
"As with Snider’s past works, the surface details of this “Mass” can be quickly identified as mellifluous and engaging. But there are additional levels to enjoy...This emphatic articulation of purpose, sung by and for other humans, seems to be reaching beyond environmentalism and toward morality at large."
"Snider re-works the mass into a requiem for the environment to spectacular effect...This most accessible and very contemporary work (which just might be the first vegan mass) is deeply grounded in earlier traditions and will be of certain interest to lovers of high-quality choral writing." (4.5 Stars, Editor's Choice)
"Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Pale As Centuries is the album’s most striking piece. Its wary guitar theme recedes for Terry Riley-ish upper-register circles, clarinet floating amid piano turbulence and eerie concentric circles just below: it wouldn’t be out of place in the Darcy James Argue catalog."
"I came away with a newly discovered composer to get all enthusiastic about–Sarah Kirkland Snider, whose 'Scenes from Unremembered'...were the most musically compelling songs of the whole show. Angular melodies, chromatic mediant harmonies, overlapping ascending scales, rich rhythmic density arising from Monkishly interlocking ostinati...A Renaissancey minimalism, and quite honestly some of the coolest stuff I’ve heard in a long time.”
“...Sarah Kirkland Snider’s colorful 'Something for the Dark' [is] a sort of concerto for orchestra. Each section enjoyed its moment to shine as the piece cycled through a series of themes and rhythmic variations. It begins with an ethereal high note played by a single violin, and expands into a Mahlerian world of sound and textures.”
“Nicholas Phan took the stage in the second half of the intermission-less program with a pair of songs by Sarah Kirkland Snider. The tenor captured the room with a haunting a cappella setting of William Blake’s “Mad Song.” Violinist Yuan-Qing Yu and cellist Kenneth Olsen traced gauzy lines around [Nicholas] Phan’s plaintive, austere vocalism in “Chrysalis,” in which the speaker—in a dream—encounters an unwritten poem in the form of a woman. The results were mesmerizing.”
“'Something for the Dark'...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.”
"The gorgeous, haunting song cycle updates Homer's Odyssey from the perspective of its female characters. Snider has been taken to task for writing music that is too vulnerable and too expressive. In "The Lotus Eaters," she answers her critics powerfully with restless music that overflows from an intoxicating desire to forget." (from "The 200 Greatest Songs By 21st Century Women")
“…as a showcase for [Williamson and Snider’s] emerging talents, 'Embrace' makes an exciting impression…Snider’s score is perfectly suited to Williamson’s theme, rooted in classicism but attuned to the modern ear, with its lushly filmic, melodic quality...I hope she will be commissioned for more dance works henceforth.” (Best Ballet Premieres of 2018)
“'Embrace is a new work by up-and-coming dance-maker, George Williamson, to a tremendous commission from the notable American composer Sarah Kirkland Snider. Snider creates a thrilling sound world, using the many sonorities of a full orchestra and building her music into truly impressive climaxes. It is rich and satisfying, an impressive first dance score from her, making one wish to hear more of her work very soon….superb.”
“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.”
“['The Currents'] effectively avoids indulging emotion, favoring subtle atmospheric suggestion, true to 19th century impressionism...The piece, however, is not without its surprises... At times tempestuous, at others placid, The Currents is a force of nature—both monsoon and mild breeze.”
"...[Something for the Dark] represents the best of what a commission can yield. It is 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...a veritable master class in the craft of contemporary music composition."
“In entrancing the listener with the slow dazzle of its intertwining patterns, ['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…"
“…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.”
“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...otherworldly and ear-catching...Snider clearly has a lot to say that’s worth listening to…”
"[Ouroboros, from Epiphany: A Cycle of Life] reflects upon luminosity, music, time, space, life and death, with members of the audience becoming a part of the work and, in the process, connecting with themselves and with the present — the elusive moment of the here and now…Marked by a clear sense of ease and cohesion…energizing yet also soothing and meditative, poetic.
“groundbreaking...one of the most acclaimed song cycles of the last decade…What makes “Penelope” so gently devastating is the way Snider precisely captures the mood of McLaughlin’s text: alternately desolate, agitated, or coldly detached. Musical syntax matters less than the complex web of loss, recrimination, and self-understanding evoked.”
"[Unremembered] is Snider’s own brand of New England gothic that would make Edgar Allan Poe proud...multilayered, often angular, and deftly blends ideas from rock and post-minimalist composers…meticulously orchestrated...painterly, intimate...But it is Snider’s fresh, instinctive way with voices that sets her apart from most of her peers.”
“…[Hiraeth] 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...Overall, Snider’s command of the orchestra is fantastic...engrossing.”
“...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.”
“Each song [of 'Unremembered'] is its own vividly colored vignette, a mesmerizing narrative brought to life through Snider’s rich textural and temperamental palette…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.”
“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.”
“...Music of thoughtful inquiry and humane emotion…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.”
"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…"
“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.”
“In 13 warped and eerie songs, Snider [channels] 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...Snider’s forceful orchestra, led by sharp stomps from the cellos, chases Worden, sometimes enveloping her completely.”
"The most striking composition on the bill might have been [The Orchard]...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."