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Sarah Kirkland Snider

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Something for the Dark (2016)
Commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in honor of Elaine Lebenbom
G Schirmer Inc
Year Composed
12 Minutes
Programme Note
Sarah Kirkland Snider Something for the Dark (2016)
Detroit Symphony Orchestra
Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor
Composer note:
Something for the Dark was commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra as a result of my receiving the DSO Elaine Lebenbom Award for Female Composers in 2014.

Thinking about Detroit led me to think about resilience, and what it means to endure. After a brief hint of passing doubt, Something for the Dark opens with a bold, heroic statement of hope and fortitude in the horns and trombones. I think of this music as the optimism of a very young person. Initially, I envisioned this motif journeying through a bit of challenge and adversity to arrive at an even stronger, bolder version of itself: Growth! Triumph! A happy ending! But that wasn't what happened. Early into its search for glory, the motif finds itself humbled beyond recognition: a delicate, childlike tune in the flute, harp, and celeste arises in its stead. This new version of hope is then put through a series of challenges that roil and churn it like the sea tossing a small boat — testing it, weathering it, even taunting it with memories of its early hubristic naïvetéé. Eventually, the music finds its way to solid ground, and though its countenance has now darkened, its heroism a distant memory, there is serenity and some wisdom — and perhaps, even, the kind of hope that endures.

The title of the piece comes from a poem by Philip Levine, the Detroit-born-and-raised, former U.S. Poet Laureate who was best known for his poems about Detroit's working class. The last two lines of For Fran struck me as an apt motto for his many clear-eyed reflections on endurance. In preparing the flower beds for winter, Levine's wife becomes a symbol of the promise of renewal: "She packs the flower beds with leaves / Rags, dampened papers, ties with twine / The lemon tree, but winter carves / Its features on the uprooted stem… I turn to her whose future bears / The promise of the appalling air / My living wife, Frances Levine, Mother of Theodore, John, and Mark / Out of whatever we have been / We will make something for the dark."

— Sarah Kirkland Snider

  • 15 NOV 2019
    Severance Hall, Cleveland, OH
    Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra
    Annie Zhang; Vinay Parameswaran, conductor

    Other Dates:
    11 November - Brecksville Broadview Heights High School, Cleveland, OH
  • 15 NOV 2019
    WWU PAC Concert Hall, Bellingham, WA
    Western Washington University Symphony Orchestra
    Dr. Ryan Dudenbostel, conductor
  • 18 JAN 2020
    Pioneer Center for Performing Arts / Reno, NV / USA
    Reno Philharmonic Orchestra
    Esther Yoo; Laura Jackson, conductor

    Other Dates:
    19 January - Pioneer Center for Performing Arts / Reno, NV / USA
  • 20 JAN 2020
    Severance Hall / Cleveland, OH / USA
    Cleveland Orchestra Youth Orchestra
    Vinay Parameswaran, conductor

[A] startling, clear-sighted piece…captivating and cohesive…Bold at first, the work built fragile, shifting waves with the intricacy, strength and delicacy of a spider's web. Flourishes emerged from inner voices, creating shimmering cascades of transmuted energy. A single tone of golden silk from concertmaster Sunho Kim brought this energy to a reflective grounding point, McAdams shaping these final moments with the gentle, yet sudden, dissolution of dappled shadows.
Libby Hansen, KC Studio Magazine,29/03/2019
In this sophisticated piece, repetition transforms the emotional charge of musical motifs. A turn of phrase may appear pretty at first, then take on shades of nostalgia before registering as a creepy obsession haunting the ear. Ms. Snider skillfully draws a wide arc, with throbbing brass accents and slashing chords driving up tension. The work ends quietly, as if on a question.
Corinna da Fonseca-Wollheim, The New York Times,21/11/2018
Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Something for the Dark, which the Detroit Symphony Orchestra commissioned and premiered on April 14, represents the best of what a commission can yield. It is an an imposing achievement marked by Snider’s unique musical language and decisive artistic vision.

Snider wrote Something for the Dark as recipient of the Detroit Symphony’s Elaine Lebenbom Award for Female Composers…
Garrett Schumann,,21/04/2016
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