Pale as Centuries



The title of the piece comes from a stanza in a Nathaniel Bellows poem I set in my song cycle, Unremembered: “The meadow lost its golden hue/ The trees let go their leaves/ The air grew colder, cleaner, blue/ Pale as centuries.” I loved the wintry image conjured here, and it inspired the ruminative, searching guitar chords that open the piece. I then heard a contrasting melodic fragment in piano, cheeky and spritely, and wondered how these two mismatched ideas might fit together. The rest of the piece is an attempt to do that: to reconcile their differences and discover the common ground between them. I decided to use the last line of the stanza as the title. I liked the mystery of the images as a simile, as potentially incongruent as the two main ideas of my piece.

May 12, 2020

New York Music Daily

"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."

December 15, 2017

"...The music grew and fell in waves, the eclectic selection of instruments (flute, clarinet, electric guitar, piano and double bass) perfectly mingling, full of cycles and patterns that all slotted together beautifully. A minute or so after the piece began, I knew that I would love it – not because I could predict what would happen, but because I could tell that this piece fit within a category of modern music that I enjoy."

Cici Carey-Stuart
November 24, 2017

Sounds of Surprise

"Sarah Kirkland Snider’s ‘Pale As Centuries’ was the standout, based on a beguiling five-chord melody subtly amplified and developed."

Matt P
September 3, 2015

I Care If You Listen

"Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Pale as Centuries gets a lot of mileage out of the simple guitar figure that opens the work. [The piece] builds in intensity and drive as the full ensemble enters, expanding the opening figure and introducing new material all while moving from musical collage to a single, organic musical statement."

Don Clark
June 10, 2015

The Agit Reader

"From its opening guitar notes, Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Pale As Centuries conjures the ornate beauty of antiquity and strips it away to show every layer and bone."

Richard Sanford
May 26, 2015

Second Inversion

"The ensemble again switches gears for Sarah Kirkland Snider’s “Pale as Centuries,” a musical collage that combines diverse, distinctive, and sometimes even mismatched melodic fragments into a single cohesive image."

Maggie Molloy