Composer-vocalist Sarah Grace Graves seeks to recreate the direct connection between sensation and sound she enjoys as a performer in her notated music. In delving into sensation as a core musical parameter, she often collaborates closely with other vocalists: night vision (2019) for two voices, her collaboration with vocalist Niki Lada at IlSuono Contemporary Music Week, explores the dramatic potential of different levels of vocal stability, intensity, and turbulence; Both/And (2018) for two vocalists and two percussionists, created in collaboration with countertenor Andrew Joseph Leggett, examines the anonymity found in extremes of vocal register.
In her instrumental music Sarah Grace explores embodiment, resonance, and vocality. Her string quartet Landing (2018), written for Quatuor Tana for their residency at CNMAT, explores the unconscious, residual sounds shared by both strings and voices. Her work November Witch (2018), conceived in collaboration with cellist Eva Boesch at the Estalagem da Ponta do Sol Residency for Contemporary Music and Electronics, maps a progression of vocal resonance in both the movement of the vocalist’s body, and in the parallel sonic vocabulary of the cello.
As a vocalist, she has collaborated with Voice Science Works (Laurel Irene and David Harris) in the inaugural New Explorative Oratorio festival (2019), Angelbert Metoyer and Saul Williams in their performance piece Sisyphus Rising (2017), Kurt Stallmann in his ballet Vespertine Awakenings (2017), and with composers Theo Chandler, Alexandre David, Webster Gadbois, Erin Graham, Maija Hynninen, David Jones, Rebecca Larkin, Jasper Sussman, Matthew Toffoletto, Molly Turner, and Trevor Villwock.
Contact me for inquiries about purchasing sheet music.
night vision, for two voices. Written for and premiered with Niki Lada at IlSuono Contemporary Music Week, Città di Castello, IT, July 2019.
Second performance, Sarah Grace Graves and Sophie Leung-Wolf at N.E.O. Voice Festival in Los Angeles, August 2019.
November Witch, for voice and cello. Conceived in collaboration with Eva Boesch at the Estalagem da Ponta do Sol Residency for Contemporary Music and Electronics, Madeira, Portugal, December 2018.
Landing, for string quartet. Composed June–October, 2018. Premiered at CNMAT by Quatuor Tana, November 11, 2018.
Both/And (2018), for 2 vocalists and 2 percussionists. Premiered by Sarah-Grace Graves and Andy Leggett (vocals) and Ian Jones and Kathie Hsieh (percussion) on July 3, 2018 at Oregon Bach Festival Composers Symposium, Eugene, OR.
Here Comes the Moon (2018), for 3-channel video with 5.1 surround sound, adapted here to single-channel stereo. Premiered at the Moody Center for the Arts, April 26, 2018.
Sybillance (2018), for four voices and lights
Mass (2018), for many players
Aeolia (2018), for five voices in Josiah McElheny's Island Universe
Aquí: Flesh and Nail (2017), for voice and guitar
Text by Matthew Toffoletto
This year, Edoardo introduced me to the simplicity, clarity, and depth of sound of the classical guitar, and for months we played with the idea of creating a piece for the two of us to perform together. As I came to know and love the guitar, I found that drastically different sounds can come from the same hand shapes, depending on the player activates the string. These sounds tell a story: bodies of flesh, nail, wood, and metal tap into their potential to resonate by exploring a multitude of positions, in a quest to free their sounds to inhabit the entire space. When relating these ideas and sketches to Matthew, he proposed that he write a text specifically for my music that adds another dimension to the structure and concepts I’m exploring. The result is immersive, it’s absurd, and it’s incredibly fun to play. Our hope is that in shattering some of the separation that often exists between classical musicians, we can create a space where we’re all engaged in exploring the potential of what it means to be right here, right now.
Premiered by the composer with guitarist Edoardo Draetta in November 2017, Houston, TX.
Hydra (2017), for Pierrot ensemble
Premiered by the Atlantic Music Festival Contemporary Ensemble
July 2017, Waterville, ME
Above the Edge of Things, for five sopranos.
Written for Tony Arnold, Anna Elder, Laurel Irene, Noelle McMurtry, and Sarah Grace Graves at New Music on the Point. Premiered June 16, 2017 in Salisbury, VT.
Text: William Carlos Williams, Dawn, from Al Que Qiere (1917).
Yttrium, for saxophone quartet.
Yttrium is an exploration of harmony, timbre, and texture. It unfolds slowly and austerely, taking its time to settle into harmonies that reinforce the multiphonics played in each instrument. The name comes from the element yttrium, a stable but rare element that is never found in nature in its pure form. I find parallels between yttrium and the multiphonics in the piece. Stable but rare, these multiphonics generate harmonies whose pitch components cannot be perfectly extracted. They exist as a wall of sound, the pitches fused together in silvery splendor.
Written for Kenari Quartet (Bob Eason, Kyle Baldwin, Corey Dundee, Stephen Banks). Read by Kenari on April 27, 2017. Premiered by Donald Sinta Quartet (Dan Graser, Zach Stern, Joe Girard and Danny Hawthorne-Foss) on July 3, 2018 at Kerrytown Concert House, Ann Arbor, MI.
4-Tiger, for clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, percussion, violin, and double bass.
4-Tiger abruptly switches between contrasting—but harmonically and texturally related—material: a bubbling, chromatically and rhythmically saturated section made up of similar figures, all out-of-sync with one another; short, contrasting episodes that gradually distort the material from the beginning; and a simple, soaring melody that finally brings together the chaotic, unsynchronized figures into something calm, focused and intense. The title refers to the Aztec creation myth in which the world is created, devoured by ocelots, and then reborn.
Written for Deviant Septet. Premiered by Hear and Now (Jake Hale, clarinet; Naho Zhu, bassoon; Matthew Ross, trumpet; John Church, trombone; Keith Hammer, percussion; Giancarlo Latta, violin; Chad Wesselkamper, double bass, Molly Turner, conducting) on January 22, 2017.
Genesis, for soprano and piano.
Genesis explores the concept of breath as origin.
Before I breathe
I feel my feet embrace the ground
My eyes, my limbs, my core prickle
At electric air.
Everything begins and ends with breath,
That circle of life,
Fractals of breath as our lives, our worlds
Pour it out for music's sake,
My body's invitation to my soul,
"Come sing with my voice!
Bow the strings of my core!"
Music, lyrics, and premiere by Sarah Grace Graves. Premiered on October 12, 2016 with composer/pianist D'Aria Tennikova-Šatral.
Portrait, for violin and piano.
Portrait is a fantasy on two popular themes. The themes are overlaid, one in each instrument. The beginning of Portrait uses only fragments of each theme, but as the energy grows, the themes expand and solidify. The themes and the harmony come together in a chaotic middle section, only to unravel and blur together as this [not-so-short] piece comes to a close.
Written for Giancarlo Latta and Wesley Ducote. Premiered April 2016 at the Shepherd School of Music.
Spring, for mezzo-soprano and cello.
Written for Abigail Fischer and Norman Fischer. Text from the 13th-century English round "Sumer is Icumen In."
Sumer is icumen in
Ewe bleteth after lamb
Lhouth after calve cu
Lhude sing cucku
Summer is coming
Ewe bleats after lamb
Cow lows after calf
Loudly sing cuckoo
Premiered April 2016 at the Shepherd School of Music.
chiaroscuro, for SSAA choir and narration. Winner of the 2015 Mary Bussman Emerging Female Composer Contest, the song set text adapted from Tilda Swinton's speech at the Rothko Chapel's Visionary Gala in May 2014. Premiered at the Twin Cities Women's Choir Illuminations concert in November 2015.
Change Came Into Our Houses, for mezzo soprano, bass clarinet, and cello. Commissioned as part of HGOco's project Civil Rights: Then and Now, the piece was premiered by Teresa Procter, mezzo-soprano, Josef Lamell, bass clarinet, and Clare Monfredo, cello in Houston in April 2015.
Artifacts: Souvenirs of Time Travel, for 2 percussionists. Written for percussionists Lucas Sanchez and Keith Hammer III, Artifacts premiered in March 2015 at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music.
The piece is comprised of a set of miniatures, with titles and positions as follows:
1 The Journey (0:00)
2 Comb of St. Lupus (0:50)
3 Navajo Mountain (1:57)
4 Duck!!! (3:06)
5 Round Trip (4:08)
6 Amphora (5:38)
7 The Newest Apple (6:58)
8 The Journey, Part II (8:30)
The Giant Duck, for tuba and piano, premiered in July 2012 by Zachary O'Neill, tuba, and Mikal Mancini, piano, at Eastman Music Horizons Festival in Rochester, NY. This recording: Gregory Urban, tuba, and Jennifer Quinones, piano.
Feel free to reach out if you're interested in collaborating.
palimpsest III // on language and singularities (2019) by Trevor Villwock
Premiered on August 10, 2019 with Benjamin Hanson, voice; Abe Ross, organ; and Trevor Villwock, electronics at N.E.O. Voice Festival in Los Angeles.
Introduction (2019) for chorus and soloists, by Jasper Wald Sussman
Premiered on August 10, 2019 with James Hayden, Kristjan Virtič, and the N.E.O. festival chorus at the N.E.O. festival in Los Angeles.
Verses Upon Waking Up and Falling Asleep (2016), for female voice, cello, and piano, by Webster Gadbois
Text: Buddhist prayers
Performed with Matthew Gustafson and Rūta Kuzmickas
January 2018, Houston, TX
The Cypress (2017), for violin and narrator, by Matthew Toffoletto
Text: “The Cypress” by Audrey Griffin
Premiered with Giancarlo Latta
November 2017, Houston, TX
Aquí: Flesh and Nail (2017), for voice and guitar, original composition
Above the Edge of Things (2017), for five sopranos, original composition
Missa Cthònica (2017), dark mass, by Matthew Toffoletto
Text by Matthew Toffoletto
Premiered with Madeleine Lyon and Sophie Leung-Wolf, sopranos; Michael Chen, trumpet; the Subterranean Players
Molly Turner conducts
April 2017, Houston, TX
Vespertine Awakenings (2017), for voices, dancers, and electronics, by Kurt Stallmann
Site-specific work for performance at James Turrell's Twilight Epiphany skyspace
Premiered with Jihyun Kim, voice and Dušan Tynek Dance Theater
February 2017, Houston, TX
Three Songs for Soprano (2017), for soprano and piano, by Molly Turner
Premiered with D’Aria Tennikova-Šátral
November 2016, Houston, TX
Genesis (2016), for soprano and piano, original composition
Neglected Treaty (2016), for five voices and electronics, by Luke Fischbeck
Text by Sara Rara
Premiered with Sarah Bauer, Lisa Harris, Olivia Spencer, and Brice Todd at Fotofest Biennial
March 2016, Houston, TX
Apogee (2015), for voice and Grinnan instruments
Instruments created by sculptor Katie Grinnan
Composed with Molly Turner for performance at James Turrell's Twilight Epiphany skyspace
Premiered with Molly Turner and Jennifer Lenardic
November 2015, Houston, TX