Sarah Kirkland Snider

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Sarah Kirkland Snider is an American composer of chamber, orchestral, and choral music.[1] She is a co-director of New Amsterdam Records.

Life and career[edit]

Snider was born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey.[citation needed] She received a B.A. from Wesleyan University and a M.M. and Artist Diploma from the Yale School of Music, where she studied with Martin Bresnick, Aaron Jay Kernis, Ezra Laderman, and David Lang. Her teachers include Christopher Rouse and Marc-Andre Dalbavie.

In 2014 Snider received the Elaine Lebenbom Award from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.[citation needed]

Snider was a co-curator of the Look & Listen Festival from 2001-2007. Since 2007, she has been the co-artistic director of the independent non-profit label New Amsterdam Records alongside William Brittelle and Judd Greenstein.[citation needed]


Snider's musical compositions, particularly her song cycles, frequently borrow from indie-rock and popular musical idioms as well as classical chamber music forms and instrumentation.[1] Her music has been performed at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center to rock venues such as (Le) Poisson Rouge and The Bell House and art spaces such as MoMA and Mass MoCA.

Snider's music is published by G. Schirmer.[2]


One of Snider's best known works is Penelope, an orchestral song cycle based on the faithful wife from Homer's Odyssey, with lyrics by playwright Ellen McLaughlin. The cycle originated as a music-theater piece commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Center. The piece was later expanded into an orchestral song cycle and released on New Amsterdam Records in 2010. The album contains vocals by Shara Nova and orchestral accompaniment by Ensemble Signal.

Penelope received widespread critical acclaim.[3][4][5][6] It was listed as Time Out New York's No. 1 Classical Album of 2010,[7] NPR'S Top 5 Genre-Defying Albums, WNYC New Sounds' Top 10 Albums of 2010,[8] Huffington Post's Top 10 Alternative-Art Songs of the decade, and many other year-end lists.[9] The album also received an 8.2/10 in Pitchfork.[1] The New York Times described the piece as a "hauntingly vivid psychological portrait".[1][10]

List of works[edit]


  • Disquiet (2005, rev. 2012)
  • Until I Become Human (2006) for mezzo-soprano, solo viola, and orchestra
  • Hiraeth (2015)
  • Something for the Dark (2015)
  • Blue Hour (2017) for mezzo-soprano and string orchestra
  • Embrace (2018)
  • Forward Into Light (2020)

Chamber Ensemble[edit]

  • Just Once (1997) for soprano and piano
  • Mad Song (1998) for tenor and piano
  • The Heart of the Woman (1998) for soprano and piano
  • The Ecotone (1999) for two pianos
  • Ave (2002) for string quartet
  • Stanzas in Meditation (2004) for two sopranos and harp
  • In Two Worlds (2005) for flute, oboe, bass clarinet, French horn, offstage trumpet, trumpet, vibraphone, violin, and cello
  • Thread and Fray (2006) for bass clarinet, viola, and marimba
  • Chrysalis (2006) for soprano and two violas
  • Shiner (2006) for trombone, harp, viola, and marimba
  • Passenger Seat (2006) for high voice (soprano, mezzo, or countertenor) and piano
  • How Graceful Some Things Are, Falling Apart (2006) for mezzo-soprano and piano
  • Daughter of the Waves (2011) for flute, clarinet, French horn, trumpet, electric guitar, violin, viola, and cello
  • Pale as Centuries (2011) for flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, electric guitar, piano, and double bass
  • Taking Turns in My Skin (2011) flute/piccolo, clarinet/bass clarinet, French horn, trumpet, electric guitar, violin, viola, cello, and soprano (optional finger cymbals, guiro, vibraslap)
  • Penelope (2012) for fl/alto fl/picc, cl/bass cl — French horn, tmpt — drums/perc (glock, egg shaker, BD, gro, tri, 2 crot., fing cymb) — e. gtr./acoustic gtr. — mezzo-soprano — violin, viola, cello — laptop
  • You Are Free (2015) for flute, clarinet, marimba, piano, violin, and cello
  • Chrysalis (arr. 2015) for soprano, violin and cello
  • Unremembered (2013, arr. 2016) for chamber orchestra, three voices, and electronics
  • Five Songs from Unremembered (arr. 2017) for oboe, English horns, percussion, acoustic/electric guitar, harp, piano, violin, cello — Wide-Ranged Soprano (E3 to B5) — laptop (electronics)
  • Parallel Play (2019) for flute and piano
  • If you bring forth what is within you: Suite from Blue Hour (2019) for flute, clarinet, bassoon, French horn, piano, two violins, viola, cello, and double bass
  • Penelope (arr. 2019) for mezzo-soprano — one drums/perc (vibr., glock., egg shaker, BD, gro, tri, 2 crot.) — two violins, viola, cello, double bass — laptop


  • Here (2011) for SSAA chorus
  • Psalm of the Soil (2013) for five tenors, two baritones, and two basses (optional piano accompaniment)
  • Ouroboros (2015) for SSA chorus, string quartet, and two percussion
  • Mass for the Endangered (2018) for SATB chorus, piano, string quintet, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, harp and percussion
  • You Must Feel with Certainty (2018) for SATB chorus and percussion

Solo Instrument[edit]

  • Finisterre (1997) for solo piano
  • Only Five (1997) for solo piano
  • Uninvited Reason (1998) for solo piano
  • Prelude (1999) for solo piano
  • A Single Breath (1999) for solo viola
  • Ballade (2001) for solo piano
  • The Reserved, The Reticent (2004) for solo cello

Musical Theater[edit]

  • The Burning Out of ’82 (1997) for SATB quartet, piano, and cello


  1. ^ a b c d Greene, Jayson (5 January 2011). "Penelope review". Pitchfork. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  2. ^ "News - Sarah Kirkland Snider signs with G. Schirmer, part of the Music Sales Group - Music Sales Classical". Archived from the original on 23 July 2019. Retrieved 7 December 2016.
  3. ^ "Believer 2011 Music Issue". The Believer. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  4. ^ Huizenga, Thomas (7 October 2010). "Woman of Constant Sorrow". NPR. Archived from the original on 23 July 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  5. ^ Eric (28 October 2010). "Penelope: A labor of love". The Indie Handbook. Archived from the original on 23 July 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  6. ^ Gardner, Alexandra (19 October 2010). "SOUNDS HEARD: SARAH KIRKLAND SNIDER—PENELOPE". New Music Box. Archived from the original on 23 July 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  7. ^ "The Best and Worst of 2010". Time Our New York. Archived from the original on 24 December 2010. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  8. ^ Schaeffer, John (8 December 2010). "The 5 Best Genre-Defying Albums of 2010". NPR. Archived from the original on 23 July 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  9. ^ Kushner, Daniel J. (28 December 2010). "The Top 10 Alternative Art Songs of 2001–2010". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on 23 July 2019. Retrieved 8 August 2011.
  10. ^ Smith, Steve (24 May 2009). "Welcome Home, Says a New Mrs. Odysseus". The New York Times. Retrieved 8 August 2011.

External links[edit]