Fifteen Questions asks Sarah about everything from her artistic journey and creative challenges to workspace, routine, and her process of composing 'Mass for the Endangered'; from collaboration, time, and sound, to her approach to being an artist, art and politics, and how music might thrive better in the 21st century.
"It’s a Mass, but not like you’ve ever heard. Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Mass for the Endangered is a prayer for threatened wildlife and appeals to the environment instead of God. Snider is also the co-founder of New Amsterdam Records, a non-profit label housing some of the finest 'classical misfits.' She discusses both here."
Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider joins us to talk about her new release, Mass for the Endangered, a new take on the traditional Catholic Mass – this time directing its call to nature, rather than God - with soulful music masterfully performed by the vocal ensemble Gallicantus.
Internationally acclaimed percussionist Colin Currie has generous praise for Sarah's new recording: "Every once in a while something really special grabs my attention...The music, first and foremost, is absolutely gorgeous, sublime, rapturous, very intelligently done, very warm-hearted."
"For those of us who need a reminder that there will be a light at the end of the tunnel, even if we can’t see it yet, I had conversations with four composers about past crises they faced as artists and human beings." Lara Pelligrinelli interviews Sarah, John Corigliano, Tania Leon, and Vijay Iyer.
"Sarah is an amazing composer and is one of the founders of New Amsterdam Records. I’ve known Sarah since grad school at Yale, and it was nice to finally sit and chat with her." The inimitable percussionist Josh Quillen of So Percussion interviews Sarah.
"The premieres of new works by Olga Neuwirth and Sarah Kirkland Snider were among the most crushing losses of the canceled final months of the New York Philharmonic’s season this year." Musicologist Doug Shadle interviews Sarah for his essay on the early days of programming at the New York Philharmonic.
"Sarah Kirkland Snider composed an original piece of classical music called “You Must Feel with Certainty” that was performed live at the Guggenheim by Vox Vocal Ensemble." Lauren Hansen interviews Sarah about the piece she wrote on Hilma af Klint using her exclusive writings on loan from the Guggenheim and inspired by her mystical art.
"Navigating the ever-changing tides of album-based musical projects may seem like an immense risk, even to those knowledgeable of today’s winds and currents. However, New Amsterdam Records continues to be a beacon." Interview with Bill, Judd, and Sarah.
"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."
"Judd Greenstein, William Brittelle, and Sarah Kirkland Snider aspired to bust new music out of its specialist niche. They saw themselves as advocates, not just for themselves but for the kind of community I had hoped to find in the late 1980s." —Justin Davidson
"We should be beyond this by now. Indeed, we should have been beyond it a generation ago. "The social culture of the composition scene was quite shocking to me," composer Sarah Kirkland Snider wrote earlier this year on NewMusicBox.com, the leading contemporary-music webzine. "In many ways it felt like stepping back in time."
Rather than asking our customary five questions to a single composer, we asked a single question to each of the five composers involved in this project: Rachel Grimes, Caroline Shaw, Shara Nova, Sarah Kirkland Snider, and Angélica Negrón.
"In the wake of much discussion about the chronic underrepresentation of female composers on American concert programs, I came up with my own best-of list. Since I was responding to a list of recordings, I confined myself to artists active in the recorded music era."
When I was first starting out as a composer, a composition teacher offered me some bracing words of caution: “Sarah, you’ll have a difficult path. Your music is direct, lyrical, expressive. When a man writes like that, it’s brave and admirable; it’s going against type. But when a woman writes like that, it can be seen as sentimental and indulgent."
Before her Big Ears Festival performance of Unremembered, Morning Concert host Melony Dodson and Sarah have a frank conversation about this song cycle and her influences and compositional style, but also discuss the evolution and progress of "classical music" as a genre, as well as challenges that she has encountered as a female composer.
Steve Smith conducts an interview with Sarah and Nathaniel Bellows, the lyricist and illustrator for Unremembered. In the midst of touring the project, Snider and Bellows sat down one recent afternoon in Williamsburg to trawl through memories of conceiving and creating Unremembered, taking it on the road, and what comes next.
"Inexplicably — and in a coup for the SPCO’s Liquid Music and its curator, Kate Nordstrum — this will be the U.S. premiere of a work that was one of the most acclaimed album releases of 2015. Snider will arrive here from touring “Unremembered” in Holland and Belgium. We emailed her some questions earlier this week."
Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider joins the ever-curious Jodie Landau for an in-depth conversation about Snider’s song cycle, Unremembered, which has its U.S. premiere this Saturday in Minneapolis with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra as part of the SPCO's Liquid Music Series, curated by Kate Nordstrum. Sarah really enjoyed this interview.
"Princeton-based composer Sarah Kirkland Snider also serves as a Co-Director of New Amsterdam Records. In between score revisions and mobile office meetings, Sarah discovers home-made toilet paper sculptures and is asked one of life's greatest mysteries: "Mommy? What does Yoda look like when he's naked?"
"I think of myself as a narrative composer. I’m interested in writing music that tells a story — music that has an involving, emotionally direct, and vivid aural storyline — either with text or without." An interview about Hiraeth, Penelope, and life married to a fellow composer.
"Composer Sarah Kirkland Snider is in the midst of a whirlwind season with a new orchestral commission from Detroit Symphony Orchestra; a multi-media co-commission, Hiraeth, from North Carolina Symphony and Princeton Symphony Orchestra; and a new mounting of her song-cycle Penelope, also by Princeton Symphony Orchestra."
"[Penelope playwright Ellen McLaughlin] wanted to sing it, and that actually has a lot to do with the reason that it exists between classical and rock. She doesn’t read music, and she needed to learn it by ear. That sort of liberated me to get back in touch with music that I still loved."
"Snider took a circuitous route to composing, and always felt like a late bloomer who had to play catch-up. When “Penelope” became one of the most acclaimed song cycles of the last decade, “it was nice to feel like I could feel free, make myself whole again, and incorporate all these musical values that I loved,” she said."
"She studied at Wesleyan University and Yale, but equally important was an upbringing that included working on classical music (piano and cello) while constantly hearing her parents play rock in the car and around the house. She never got the message that one was better than the other."
"When North Carolina Symphony General Manager Martin Sher approached New York composer Sarah Kirkland Snider about writing a new piece, a set of images immediately flashed into her mind. She remembered something particular about the light: a memory of lush North Carolina foliage in the summertime, when she would wander aimlessly through it all."
"Childhood trauma is alluring but fiendishly difficult material for writers. In Unremembered, a new collaboration by the composer Sarah Kirkland Snider and the poet Nathaniel Bellows, you’ll find an aching, masterfully unnerving lesson in how it’s done." One of Sarah's favorite interviews about Unremembered.
In advance of the release of her second full-length album, Unremembered, Sarah has a long conversation with Molly Sheridan at her home in Princeton, New Jersey—on her influences, education, circuitous path to composition, and embracing deeply emotional content.
"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. We spoke with Snider and Worden about Penelope and their approaches to collaborations and creativity."
"So then I started thinking, “Wait, I have all these ideas for the music that I think will make sense for the project, but I’m afraid to use them because I’m a ‘classical’ composer? Why does the classical portion of my background have more say over what I write than the non-classical portion?""
"You have to be willing to embrace the worst kind of pain to love that deeply," says Snider. She felt herself open up and she strives to use all that she feels in her music, to write honestly, unafraid of any sentiment, no matter how raw — a little like some of the masters she emulated early on and with whom she shares today's concert."
“It was a piece that continued to haunt me even after I ‘completed’ it. It’s about the anxiety of unspoken words, or the restlessness. I imagine most composers would say that their music is in some way expressive of their experiences in life. And this piece is certainly no exception." Interview about 'Disquiet.'
"A few weeks ago, Q2 and NPR Music launched a crowdsourced project to determine listeners' favorite composers under the age of 40 — and, by extension, those pieces which were shaping our contemporary musical scene and defining what it means to be a composer in the 21st century."
"...some of the best music in the scene right now is being made by women, and that’s what the Ecstatic Music Festival is about: all the incredible music being made right now in this little fertile patch of terrain between genres. When you’re after the best music and the best festival, it’s not a feminist move; it’s a musical one."—SKS
"The way hints of Radiohead and David Lang mingle with St. Vincent and Chopin only to be reabsorbed into an aural landscape that is uniquely the voice of Sarah Kirkland Snider, results in what is easily the most beautiful album of the year. Here is my Twitter interview with its composer, Sarah Kirkland Snider."