Home > Music News, New Sounds > Sarah Kirkland Snider, My Brightest Diamond & Signal – Penelope

Sarah Kirkland Snider, My Brightest Diamond & Signal – Penelope

4th Apr 10 (Sun) Leave a comment Go to comments

Sarah Kirkland Snider‘s debut album Penelope (New Amsterdam Records, September 2010) is a 60-minute song cycle for female voice, chamber orchestra, and electronics, composed by Sarah Kirkland Snider, featuring vocalist Shara Worden of My Brightest Diamond and highly acclaimed chamber orchestra Signal, conducted by Brad Lubman, with sound design by Michael Hammond.

A deft blend of Snider’s classical training and strong interest in indie rock, pop and folk musics, Penelope is a genre-defying work that moves organically from moments of wistful strings-and-harp reflection to dusky post-rock textures with distorted drums and guitars, helmed by a strong sense of melody and a craftsman’s approach to songwriting. Derived from a multimedia-theater piece co-created by Snider and acclaimed playwright Ellen McLaughlin, the work centers on a woman whose long-missing former husband turns up at her door, traumatized by two decades spent in an unnamed war. To restore his memory, the woman reads aloud from Homer’s “Odyssey.” The result is a poignant, haunting story in song.

The New York Times praised the work for having “an elegiac quality that deftly evoked sensations of abandonment, agitation, grief and reconciliation…ably [demonstrating] the poised elegance of Ms. Snider’s writing.”

Penelope has appeared in various guises over the past two years: it originated as a music for a theater piece and then debuted as a song cycle with Signal last May. When Shara came aboard the project, Sarah revised and expanded the songs yet again, tailoring them to Shara’s unique talents and arranging them for Sarah’s dream cast of characters: a 25-person orchestra of strings, harp, percussion, drums, electric guitar and bass, and electronics (with sound design by Michael Hammond). The cycle grew from 40 to 60 minutes. The album comes out this fall!

For more info, and a link to a free download of the first “single,” visit the brand-spankin’-new Penelope website.

~Dan – np: Tegan and SaraSainthood thainthood

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