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Sarah Kirkland Snider

Publisher: G. Schirmer

Three Songs from 'Unremembered' (2015)
Commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra
Work Notes
Live performances of Unremembered are further brought to vivid, immersive life through the inclusion of the Unremembered artwork, created by the cycle’s writer/illustrator, Nathaniel Bellows. For image/video licensing information for Unremembered artwork, please write to
Text Writer
Nathaniel Bellows
G Schirmer Inc
Soloists and Orchestra
Year Composed
16 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
Female vocalist
Programme Note
Sarah Kirkland Snider Three Songs from 'Unremembered' (2015)
Related works:
   Scenes from 'Unremembered' for vocal octet or choir and piano - 18'
   Selections from 'Unremembered' for two voices, quartet, and electronics - 18'
   The Swan from 'Unremembered' for voice and piano - 4'
   Three Songs from 'Unremembered' for mezzo-soprano, chamber orchestra, and electronics - 16'
   Unremembered for 7 voices, chamber orchestra, and electronics - 57'
   Unremembered for 3 voices, chamber orchestra, and electronics - 57'
   Unremembered for 3 voices, ensemble, and electronics - 57'

1. The Guest (4'45")
2. The Swan (4')
3. The Witch (6'30")

Songs can be rented and performed individually.

These three songs come from Unremembered, an hour-long, thirteen-movement song cycle inspired by poems and illustrations by writer and visual artist, Nathaniel Bellows. A meditation on memory, innocence, and the haunted grandeur of the natural world, Unremembered recalls strange and beautiful happenings experienced during a childhood in rural Massachusetts: a houseguest takes sudden leave in the middle of the night; a boy makes a shocking discovery on a riverbank; a girl disappears in woods behind a ranging farm; ghosts appear with messages for the living. The cycle explores the ways in which beguiling events in early life can resonate in — and prepare us for — the subtler horrors that lie beyond the realm of childhood.

These arrangements were commissioned by the American Composers Orchestra.
The female vocalist should have a wide range (E3-Bb6); otherwise two different vocalists (mezzo and soprano) may be preferred. Vocalist is supported by three pre-recorded vocal parts woven into the electronics, which are live-triggered by laptop. Alternatively these supporting vocal parts can be performed live by three female vocalists. Using the pre-recorded backing tracks necessitates the use of a click track in performance. Please see Unremembered tech rider for more information.

“Unremembered is all about exploding genres, bringing Van Dyke Parks into conversation with John Adams, My Brightest Diamond into collision with Edgard Varèse, and art song into contact with concept album. A recording is out now on New Amsterdam Records, and it’s great.”
Dan Ruccia, Indy Week,05/10/2015
“[Unremembered is] haunting, orchestral and poetic…cinematic and atmospheric…”
Interview Magazine,23/09/2015
“[Unremembered is] music of thoughtful inquiry and humane emotion, willing to embrace a modicum (or more) of overt beauty but suspicious toward too-easy sentiment or the merely pretty and ornamental…a heady blend of thoughtful intricacy with forthright emotional appeal…the setting composed for each [song] is rhythmically and tonally distinct, a sequence of craftily detailed tableaux, rich with surprise and nuance.”
George Wallace, Genre, I’m Only Dancing, “A Boy’s Own Gothic”,04/09/2015
“…Unremembered is as enthralling in its musical flow as its lyrical narrative, and the way Snider guides, teases, and manipulates the listener is masterful. It’s a stunning, immensely rewarding experience…”
Adrien Begrand, PopMatters,27/08/2015
“Snider’s settings were as wonderfully varied as [Bellows’ poetry], with a musical vocabulary rooted in Björk, Steve Reich and David Lang. While I very much enjoyed the neo-medieval polyphony of “The Guest” and Vespertine-like glassiness of “The Swan,” it was the third song, “The Witch,” that stole the show. The song feels like a glimpse into an entirely new sound world, melding the sneaky bass lines and rhythms of a My Brightest Diamond number with the unsettling orchestral interjections of Thomas Adès and some kind of obliquely driving rock. It was the perfect showcase for Worden, who acted the words as much as she sang them, contorting her body to match the ebbs and flows of the music. The song ended far too soon, and I wanted to spend more time exploring its possibilities. All the more reason, I suppose, to look forward to the new work of hers the NCS will premiere in September.”
Dan Ruccia , Indy Week,29/04/2015
“In selections from Sarah Kirkland Snider’s Unremembered, Worden set aside the pep for something more subdued. Based on grisly subject matter, “The Swan” was dark, cinematic, and passionately delivered. “The Witch” was intense, curling, and fierce, with groundwork laid by a jazzy guitar shuffle. If these two selections are any indication, Unremembered is a deeply personal, brave work from Snider. Her music provided a somber, if not unwelcome, lull to the evening.”
Elias Blumm, I Care If You Listen,12/03/2015
"What drew all these artists together was Unremembered, a new song cycle by Ms. Snider based on a sequence of 10 poems by Nathaniel Bellows… Employing a broader temperamental palette than she used for Penelope Ms. Snider still showed a predilection for the wistful and melancholy. Again she made striking use of Ms. Worden’s distinctive voice, conveying innocence, ambiguity and insight. The work attested to Ms. Snider’s thorough command of musical mood setting, organically integrating the structural economy and direct impact of pop songs with deft, subtle orchestrations that lent emotional gravity and nuance."
Steve Smith, The New York Times, “Fusions That Defy Categories",11/02/2013
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