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Students, Faculty + Alumni

Alumna Sarah Kirkland Snider wins DSO Female Composers' Award

Sarah Kirkland Snider

Sarah Kirkland Snider '05 MM, '06 AD has been awarded the seventh annual Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award for Female Composers from the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO). Snider, who was chosen from applicants worldwide, will compose a new work that will be given its premiere in the 2015–16 season. In addition to concerts presenting her work, Snider will receive a $10,000 prize and a one-month residency at the Ucross Foundation, an artist’s retreat in northern Wyoming.

“I am elated and immensely honored to receive the DSO’s Elaine Lebenbom Commission,” said Snider. “The Detroit Symphony Orchestra is one of the world’s great orchestras, with an incredible legacy of artistic excellence. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to create a new work for these extraordinary musicians.”

Snider was chosen by a jury comprised of composer Evan Chambers and three DSO musicians: Johanna Yarbrough, horn; Joe Becker, principal percussion; and Marcus Schoon, contrabassoon.

“I was instantly in love with Sarah’s unique and authentic style,” said Yarbrough. “Her competition entries stood out to me because they were so different and so original.  I’m excited to see what she writes for the DSO.  Hearing music like hers reinvigorates musicians like me and reminds me how important it is to play new, fresh music.”

The Elaine Lebenbom Memorial Award was inspired by composer, teacher, poet, artist and lecturer Elaine Lebenbom, a resident of Bloomfield Hills, Mich., who died in 2002.  The DSO has premiered three of Lebenbom’s works.  Kaleidoscope Turning received its world premiere under the direction of DSO Music Director Emeritus Neeme Järvi in 1997.  Reflections on a Rainbow and Gamatria were debuted in 2004 and 2007, respectively, both after the composer’s death.

Previous winners of the award include Stacy Garrop, Margaret Brouwer, Wang Jie, and YSM alumnae Cindy McTee '78 MM and Missy Mazzoli '06 MM.

About Sarah Kirkland Snider

Recently deemed “among the brightest lights to emerge in recent seasons” (Time Out New York) and “a potentially significant voice on the American music landscape” (Philadelphia Inquirer), composer Sarah Kirkland Snider writes music of direct expression and vivid narrative that has been hailed as “rapturous” (New York Times), “haunting” (Los Angeles Times), and “strikingly beautiful” (Time Out New York).

Snider’s recent and upcoming commissions/performances include ACME, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, the Brooklyn Youth Chorus, Cantus, Colin Currie, Ensemble Signal, Hebrides Ensemble (Scotland), Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony (CA), the Knights, North Carolina Symphony, NOW Ensemble, Princeton Symphony Orchestra, Psappha (UK), Residentie Orkest Den Haag (NL), Roomful of Teeth, Volti, Shara Worden, and yMusic, among others. Snider’s “ravishingly melancholy” (New York Times) debut album, Penelope, featuring Shara Worden and Ensemble Signal, was named to dozens of 2010 best-of lists worldwide including NPR, Time Out New York, WNYC, eMusic, textura, and Huffington Post. Her second album, Unremembered, an orchestral song cycle for vocalists Padma Newsome, D.M. Stith, and Shara Worden, will release on New Amsterdam Records in Fall 2014. In addition to her work as a composer, Snider is Co-Director of Brooklyn-based record label and presenting organization, New Amsterdam Records/Presents. She holds a M.M. and Artist’s Diploma from the Yale School of Music, and a B.A. from Wesleyan University.