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NYWC December 2023 Spotlight: Sarah Meneely-Kyder

We are excited to continue our collaboration with the New York Women Composers. This month, we spotlight composer Sarah Meneely-Kyder.

Sarah Meneely-Kyder NYWC December 2023

Bio (adapted from Sarah Meneely-Kyder’s website):

Composer/pianist Sarah Meneely-Kyder (b. 1945) is a graduate of Goucher College, Peabody Conservatory, and Yale University. Her composition teachers include Robert Hall Lewis, Earle Brown, and Robert Morris. She later studied the North Indian sitar and was eventually initiated by Roop Verma, a student of world-renowned sitarist, Ravi Shankar. She has also studied the South Indian veena. Meneely-Kyder’s most notable compositions fuse disparate musical traditions into single pieces. In April 2013, she premiered her large-scale oratorio Letter from Italy, 1944 to a sold-out house, with a strikingly enthusiastic audience response. This composition was the inspiration for a documentary by Karyl Evans, narrated by Meryl Streep.

A member of the American Composers Alliance, and a founding member of Connecticut Composers, Inc., her creative endeavors have been rewarded with several grants and prizes including Yale University’s Rena Greenwald Memorial Prize and several Artist Project Grants from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts.

Meneely-Kyder has recorded two CDs on the North/South Recordings label, the second of which was nominated for a Grammy in 2003. As a pianist, she is most interested in the performance of contemporary music, with a specialization in 20th-century American music. She was praised by Kyle Gann, critic for the Village Voice, for a performance of a work by Alvin Lucier, noted exponent of sonic art. She has performed with the New London Contemporary Ensemble as well as the Nutmeg Chamber Ensemble. For 22 years, she has served on the faculty at Wesleyan University as an instructor of composition, piano, and chamber music.

Featured Work: Sweethearts for unaccompanied cello


  • Title: Sweethearts
  • Composer: Sarah Meneely-Kyder
  • Year of Composition: 1984
  • Instrumentation: unaccompanied cello and spoken text
  • Movements: 1
  • Duration of Work: Performers determine the duration, as per their choice of tempo. I would suggest a quarter note = 120.
  • Number of Measures: 97
  • Number of pages: 6
  • Tempo: quarter note = 118-120. (It can vary.)
  • Difficulty Level: advanced
  • Highest Position Reached: thumb
  • Techniques Employed: double, triple, and quadruple stops; pizzicato, glissandos; bass and treble clefs (no tenor); perform with spoken voice
  • Publisher: Self-published
  • Where to Purchase the Score: 
  • Cost of Score*: $15


None available. Please let us know if you record this piece. Thank you.

Program Notes

“It was not accidental that I had decided to turn my attention to prayer chants; since a prayer, in essence, is the true core that represents the people who had made it. It is a symbol of their high spirit.

By means of the genre of the sacred concerto for a cello solo, I deduce that the melody of a chant presents the information that is quite real: a melodic word, the musical substance of which can be likened to a live organism.

The reason the concerto consists of eight movements is related to the fact that the presence of eight chants was the distinguishing feature of Byzantine church-chanting art.

My goal was to create such a musical palette for the Concerto that it would portray the chanter, who used his range of chant-melodies similarly to how iconographer conveyed the biblical storylines.

For me, the cello is a universal instrument with almost unlimited possibilities, through the sound of which everything can be expressed.” – Margarita Zelenaia

Sarah Meneely-Kyder’s Other Works with a Prominent Cello Part

  • Homage to Brahms (Intermezzo & Variations)
  • Four Moods


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.