Above the Edge

of Things

for five sopranos




Houston-based singer-composer SARAH GRACE GRAVES favors an experimental approach to composition, continually modifying her compositional process to create different results, from a tightly-spaced section that breaks into episodes that re-form into something new (4-Tiger) to two simultaneous parallel fantasies on two different melodic fragments (Portrait). She wrote her newest piece, 4-Tiger, for a recording session with the “L’Histoire” chamber ensemble Deviant Septet. It was premiered by the Shepherd School of Music student-run contemporary music group Hear and Now in January 2017. In 2015, she won the Mary Bussman Emerging Female Composer Contest for her piece chiaroscuro, for SSAA choir and narration. In March 2015, HGOco, a division of the Houston Grand Opera, commissioned her to write the piece Change Came into Our Houses for a concert of songs on the theme Civil Rights: Then and Now. She is currently working on a saxophone quartet to be workshopped by the Kenari Quartet in April 2017. Her performance credits include a solo vocal recital featuring her work Genesis alongside songs by Purcell and Fauré, the premiere of Lucky Dragons’ Neglected Treaty for voices and multimedia at Fotofest Biennial 2016, and Apogee, a companion piece to Los Angeles sculptor and experimental musician Katie Grinnan’s Astrology Orchestra. Sarah-Grace began her undergraduate studies in music composition at Rice University in 2014. She has studied composition with Anthony Brandt, Shih-Hui Chen, Stacy Garrop, Richard Lavenda, Stas Omelchenko, Janet Peachey, Jennifer Jenkins Quinones, and Paul Coleman. She studies voice with Karol Bennett.



Contact me for inquiries about purchasing sheet music.


Above the Edge of Things, for five sopranos.

Have you ever heard a piece with five sopranos? Think again.

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.

4-Tiger, for clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, trombone, percussion, violin, and double bass.

4-Tiger juxtaposes three contrasting musical tableaux. It begins with a bubbling, chromatically and rhythmically saturated section made up of similar figures, all out-of-sync with one another. This texture breaks apart into short, contrasting episodes built on the material from the beginning. The music grows more erratic, until at the most chaotic moment, the music snaps together into a simple, soaring melody.

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) 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
Wax, wane,
In, out,

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.


The Book of Ages, for string quartet.

"Not only are selves conditional but they die. Each day, we wake slightly altered, and the person we were yesterday is dead. So why, one could say, be afraid of death, when death comes all the time?”

- John Updike, Self Consciousness: Memoirs

Order of movements:

1 One

2 Six

3 Thirteen

4 Twenty-Five

5 Forty-Three

6 Seventy

7 Century

First five movements premiered in April 2016 by Keanu Mitanga, Jacqueline Audas, Austin Simmons, and Kathy Audas at the Shepherd School of Music. Total duration c. 15'.


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.  The piece is set to premiere at the Twin Cities Women's Choir Illuminations concert in November 2015.


And How Should This Cease, for voice and accordion.  Written in June 2015 and premiered by the composer during 2015 Fresh Inc Festival in Kenosha, WI, this piece is the first of an unfinished cycle of songs inspired by the text of D. H. Lawrence's The Rainbow.


Beets, for clarinet and percussion.  Written for the 2015 Fresh Inc Festival, Beets was premiered by Just Duet (Cynthia Goosby, clarinet, and Scott Charvet, percussion) in June 2015 at Constellation Chicago.


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)


silent night, for SATB choir (mezzo-soprano solo) and piano. Original text. Unrelated to the traditional Christmas Carol, this Christmas piece, neither sacred nor secular, tells of a fall from grace. Duration c. 5'.


To God and to the Lamb, for viola and cello, premiered in June 2014 by Savion Washington, viola, and Britt Marin, cello, in Tampa, FL.


The Hum and Ding of the Old Tire Swing, for cello and double bass, premiered in December 2012 by Kimia Arsani, cello, and Margaret Pittman, bass, at Duke Ellington School of the Arts in Washington, DC.  Winner of the 2013 Washington Music Teachers' Association Young Composers Competition.


The Self-Same Song, for soprano, oboe, piano, violin, viola, cello, and double bass. Text by Thomas Hardy. Premiered in July 2012 by Bridget Conway, Meg Markwith, Adrienne Hudencial, Shelby Mass, Evan Anderson, Elliot Leung, and Sean Van Hentenryck.


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.



Opus for the Young, for piano duet and clarinet, premiered in May 2012 by Sarah-Grace, Charles Sciascia (piano), and Sarah Carruthers (clarinet) in Tampa, FL. This is a collection of shorter works on childlike themes. Order of movements:

1 - Prelude (piano solo, clarinet)

2 - March (piano duet)

3 - Scherzo (piano solo)

4 - The Clock (piano solo)

5 - Cradle Song (piano 3 hands)

Total duration c. 9'.


Though I Walk Through the Valley, for SATB choir (female solo) and piano.  Text adapted from Psalm 23.  Premiered in April 2012 by the Blake High School vocal group North Boulevard in Tampa, FL. The piece begins dark and stormy but later opens into bittersweet tranquility. Duration c. 3'.