Sarah Rimkus is an award-winning American composer of choral, vocal and chamber works.
Her music is harmonically and melodically driven, with both a strong sense of emotion and intricacy of construction, and it often explores issues of communication and conflict. She brings a wide range of influences to her sense of style, from Ars Nova polyphony to Bulgarian choral traditions to American masters such as Ives and Copland.
Her choral works have been performed extensively across the United States, the United Kingdom and Europe. Recent commissions include works for Amuse Singers, The Cambridge Chorale, and Con Anima Chamber Choir. A great many of her works are sacred, including a mass setting in both Latin and Scottish Gaelic premiered by the Cathedral Choir of St Andrews, Aberdeen in June 2017. Another large scale work, Babylon for choir and percussion, set the words of recordings made by Alan Lomax alongside sacred texts, all on themes of journeying and solitude. She has a strong interest in compiling and editing her own texts, and setting texts from interviews or important contemporary or historical topics. Her recent piece for The Esoterics, commissioned as the national winner of their Polyphonos competition, set the words of two survivors of the Japanese exclusion during World War II, a deep part of the history of her Pacific Northwest home. Her works have been featured on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM, and performed at such venues as Buckingham Palace, St John Smith’s Square and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. She has publications with GIA and Walton Music, and self-publishes the majority of her scores herself and through MusicSpoke.
She also has a strong interest in chamber works, and the intimate communication of individual players in this medium. She has recently completed commissions for Red Note Ensemble and The Ligeti Quartet, commissioned by the Sound Festival and the Cheltenham Music Festival. Her choral works strongly inform her instrumental works and vice versa, particularly in the case of the highly vocal and expressive family of string instruments. Her string orchestra piece Trapped in Amber, inspired by Kurt Vonnegut and Slaughterhouse-Five, won the Morton Gould Young Composer Award in 2014. She has also recently written works for acclaimed soprano and visual artist Jillian Bain Christie and renowned UK organist Roger Williams MBE.
She recently completed her PhD in music composition, focusing on sacred choral music, at the University of Aberdeen with Phillip Cooke and Paul Mealor, after completing her MMus in composition with distinction at the University of Aberdeen in 2015. She earned her Bachelors of Music in composition magna cum laude in 2013 at the University of Southern California, where she developed her love of working with text and the voice while studying with Morten Lauridsen and Stephen Hartke.
As a teaching assistant and active musician in Scotland, she developed her passion for education of young composers and supporting the work of her students and peers. She has taught composition privately to high school age students in Aberdeen through the Sound Festival, and has taught extensively on courses at the University. She has served as primary lecturer and course coordinator on second year composition courses and developed and delivered her own third and fourth year BMus course on the life and works of George Crumb. She also served as artistic director for Spectrum, the University’s new music ensemble, and helped bring a diverse range of world premieres by students to life, particularly as part of the Ensemble’s composition competition. She also has experience as a choral conductor, particularly through conducting her own works and the works of her peers.
She was born in Washington, DC in 1990 and moved to Bainbridge Island, Washington in 1998. Having also lived in Southern California and Scotland for a number of years, she has a love of travel and various cultures, and a sense of place or distance often inspires her work. She is currently based in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan.