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NYWC August 2023 Spotlight: Kim Sherman

We are excited to continue our collaboration with the New York Women Composers. This month, we spotlight composer Kim Sherman.

Kim Sherman

Composer Kim Sherman. Photo courtesy Kim Sherman.

Bio (from Kim Sherman’s website):

“Kim D. Sherman composes for the theater, opera, the concert stage, and film. Her music has been described as “rhapsodic and lush” as well as “craggy and leap-about.”  She embraces lyricism and dissonance as equal partners in conveying dramatic musical landscapes.

Recent premieres and publications include:

  • UNFATHOMABLE THINGS, a book of piano solos performed and recorded by Donna Weng Friedman and Kimberly Grigsby
  • UMBRELLA, (lyric by Stacey Luftig) for soprano and piano, recorded by Kate Baldwin and Georgia Stitt
  • A PRAIRY DIARY (texts by Darrah Cloud and Willa Cather) a song cycle for soprano, piano and cello, recorded by the ARK trio and released on the Navona label
  • THE CLARA CYCLE (text by Royce Flippin) for soprano, violin and piano, premiered by Allison Charney, Kelly Hall-Tompkins and Donna Weng Friedman.

Currently under construction:

  • ADA, the spectacular story of computer pioneer Ada Lovelace
  • BLUESTEM, based on two stories by Willa Cather.
  • MY DEAR SUSY CLEMENS, a musical theater work based upon a letter written by Samuel Clemens to his daughter Susy.

On Broadway, she wrote incidental music for Paul Rudnick’s hilarious play I HATE HAMLET. She has written incidental music for many plays in regional theaters throughout the United States.

From 2016-2023, she was the composer in residence with Still Waters In A Storm, working with Stephen Haff (Founder of Still Waters) and a group of immigrant children in Bushwick, Brooklyn. Together, they adapted Don Quixote into The Traveling Serialized Adventures of Kid Quixote, a play with songs.

Ms. Sherman studied piano and composition at Lawrence University, and composition and orchestration with composer Thea Musgrave. Her career started in Minneapolis, where she was awarded two Kudos Awards for her work in the theater. She has enjoyed residencies at The MacDowell Colony and The Banff Centre. A New Yorker since 1983, she is a regular volunteer composer and mentor for The 52nd Street Project.”

Featured Work: The Laodamiad” for unaccompanied cello


  • Title: The Laodamiad
  • Composer: Kim Sherman
  • Year of Composition: 2016-2018
  • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello
  • Movements: 10
  • Duration of Work: ~21 minutes
  • Number of Measures: 379
  • Number of pages: 11
  • Tempo: various – from 54 – 144
  • Difficulty Level: from intermediate to professional (depending on the movement)
  • Highest Position Reached: thumb
  • Techniques Employed: con sordino – with a wooden mute specified; harmonics, tremolo, glissandos, sul ponticello, sul tasto, pizzicato, col legno battuto, jeté (ricochet); bowing the side of the cello, bowing the end pin, tapping wood, and plucking below the bridge; double and triple stops; bass, tenor, and treble clefs
  • Publisher: Self-published (Publishing Company: Plumber’s Daughter)
  • Where to Purchase the Score: email the composer
  • Cost of Score*: $15 + shipping

Performance Notes

“The cellist may speak the title of each movement.” – Kim Sherman


Program Notes

In the spring of 2016, I wrote “incidental music” for The Laodamiad, a new play by Chas Libretto. The play tells the story of Laodamia, the first widow of the Trojan War, and was inspired by the sole surviving line of an ancient Greek drama. My first instinct after reading Chas’s play was to create a score for solo cello, to be played live onstage. I asked Kajsa William-Olsson to play and to my great fortune she agreed. We spent many hours together, exploring themes, sounds and the relationship between the text, the actors and the music.

My idea for the music was to create themes for the main characters, as well as themes for love, fate and the underworld. I then transposed each theme into every mode (Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, Mixolydian, Aolian, Locrian.) Once I had a version of each theme in every mode, I made further variations of each modal version in retrograde, inverted, and inverted retrograde, a technique normally associated with Schoenberg’s 12-tone System. I used the different modal variations and inversions to reflect different aspects of character and story. A theme of love would transform to despair when it was played backwards. A hero’s theme would become broken when inverted.

THE LAODAMIAD (A Mythic Journey) utilizes the musical materials I created for the play, and reflects the structure of the story starting with Laodamia walking into the ocean, in despair. Iolaus rescues her, and the spark of love begins. Hesitation, and then a quick marriage. Soon after, Iolaus is called to war. Fate is not kind. As his is the first foot to touch the sand, he is the first to die. Laodamia goes to the underworld to search for him. His transformed persona (now called Protesileos) sends her away. Laodamia’s father (Acastus) erects a bronze statue of Iolaus, and Laodamia falls in love with the statue. Acastus cannot bear to see his daughter’s delusion, and takes the statue down. Laodamia is immediately pulled into the underworld again, but this time is visited by her mother who sends her back in the world to live. The final scene takes place thirty years later, next to a tree that she planted to honor her husband.” – Kim Sherman

Kim Sherman’s Other Work with a Prominent Cello Part


A Collaboration with the New York Women Composers (NYWC)

The NYWC series at the Cello Museum was created to showcase its members who have composed various pieces for cello, informing cellists seeking new music to add to their repertoire, and helping listeners find new favorites. Many thanks to the NYWC for this wonderful collaboration.

Read other installments in the series here.

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*Prices are accurate at the time of article publication, but the Cello Museum cannot take responsibility for subsequent price changes.