Recently deemed "a composer with an enviable knack for crafting moody, strikingly beautiful works" (Time Out New York), Sarah Kirkland Snider writes music of direct expression and vivid narrative. Her works, which strive for an indifference to boundaries of style or genre, have been performed internationally by artists and ensembles from around the world including ACME, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Colin Currie, Dinosaur Annex, Firebird Ensemble, Hebrides Ensemble, the Knights, Newspeak, Quatuor Bozzini, Signal, Shara Worden, yMusic, and many others, in venues ranging from Carnegie Hall, the Aspen Music Festival, Merkin Hall, the Colorado Music Festival, the Bang On a Can Summer Festival, the MATA Festival, the Look & Listen Festival, and the Keys to the Future Contemporary Piano Music Festival to New York multimedia art cabarets such as (le) Poisson Rouge, the Bell House, The Red Bull Theater, and Theater for the New City.
Her most recent music explores her love of songwriting. These works include Penelope (2009), a 60-minute song cycle with lyrics by playwright Ellen McLaughlin, written for vocalist Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond and the chamber orchestra Signal, conducted by Brad Lubman; Penelope (2008), a music-theater monodrama for Ellen McLaughlin and the Eclipse Quartet commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Center; and Until I Became Human (2007), a set of songs for mezzo, viola, and orchestra commissioned by Dinosaur Annex and the Community Music Center of Boston, set to the poetry of Ivanna Yi. Like Penelope (2009), which is scored for string orchestra, harp, percussion, electric guitar, electric bass, drums, and electronics, much of her music features untraditional instrumentation. These works include Shiner (trombone, harp, viola, marimba), Stanzas in Meditation (two sopranos and harp), and In Two Worlds (mixed chamber ensemble including two trumpets, one offstage.) Upcoming projects include a Merkin Hall commission for Shara Worden and yMusic, as well as new works for NOW Ensemble, Third Coast Percussion, janus, and violist Nadia Sirota.
On October 26, 2010, Sarah released her first album, Penelope, featuring Shara Worden and Signal, conducted by Brad Lubman, on New Amsterdam Records. Penelope has garnered critical acclaim from NPR, The New York Times, Pitchfork, The Los Angeles Times, Time Out New York, New York Magazine, The Huffington Post, eMusic, textura Magazine, The Utne Reader, Death and Taxes Magazine, Venus, and many others, with Time Out New York calling the album "the year’s most affecting creation," textura Magazine declaring it "head and shoulders above much else that was released in 2010," and the Indie Handbook pronouncing it "the landmark achievement of 2010." Most recently, Penelope has received dozens of year-end accolades, with NPR naming it one of "The Five Best Genre-Defying Albums of 2010," Time Out New York placing it at the top of the "Ten Best Classical Albums of 2010," textura rating it No. 3 on its list of "The Top Ten Albums of 2010," and The Huffington Post naming the track "The Lotus Eaters" one of the "Top 10 Alternative Art Songs of The Decade." The influential webzine Pitchfork called the work "a gorgeous piece of music, but it is more — it is also a hauntingly vivid psychological portrait, one that explores a dark scenario with a light, almost quizzical touch, finding poetic resonances everywhere."
In addition to her work as a composer, Sarah is a passionate advocate for new music in New York and beyond. From 2001-2007 she co-curated the Look & Listen Festival, a new music series set in modern art galleries. Since 2007 she has served as Co-Director, along with William Brittelle and Judd Greenstein, of New Amsterdam Records, an independent record label and artists' service organization recently called "the focal point of the post-classical scene," (Time Out New York) and "emblematic of an emerging generation" (The New York Times), and praised for "releasing one quality disc after another" (Newsweek).
Born and raised in Princeton, New Jersey, Sarah 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. The recipient of numerous honors and distinctions for her music, she has studied with Martin Bresnick, Marc-Andre Dalbavie, Justin Dello Joio, Aaron Jay Kernis, Ezra Laderman, David Lang, and Christopher Rouse. She lives in Brooklyn, NY and Princeton, NJ, with her husband, Steven, and their son, Jasper. Her music is published by Good Child Music Publishing.