Snider’s piece to be performed by N.C. Symphony at Keppel

Published 12:00 am Sunday, January 31, 2016

By Susan Shinn
For the Salisbury Post

On Feb. 6, Sarah Kirkland Snider is coming home.

“Home” is the theme of the Feb. 6 concert by the North Carolina Symphony. As part of its 7:30 p.m. concert at Catawba College’s Keppel Auditorium, the symphony will perform Snider’s work, “Hiraeth,” based on her memories of Salisbury.

Snider’s grandparents, Arnold and Kate Mills Snider, lived here, and her father, Arnie, grew up here.

Former Salisbury Mayor Susan Kluttz, now secretary of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources, has fond memories of the Sniders, who were close friends of her parents.

“I have seen the performance,” Kluttz said of the piece’s Raleigh debut in September. “It’s a beautiful work of art. I’m really excited about how it connects the North Carolina Symphony with Salisbury. It pays tribute to a family that was very important to Salisbury and to me personally.”

Snider now lives in Princeton, N.J., and Kluttz says that the symphony likes to highlight up and coming, nationally-known composers.

Snider has been encouraged by the feedback she’s received thus far.

“I’ve been fortunate and grateful to receive some really wonderful feedback on this piece,” she says. “I was a bit nervous about it, because anytime you write about a specific place in a specific time — in this case, Salisbury in the ’50s-’80s, my dad’s childhood and my own — you run the risk of someone saying, ‘That’s not the way I remember it!’

But this piece isn’t actually just about Salisbury. It’s about my father, who took ill with a rare cancer and died suddenly just as I’d started writing it. It was difficult for me to write any music without it being colored by the grief I was experiencing then — but this was doubly the case for music about my father’s hometown, a place he loved deeply. So I was heartened to have many listeners tell me how deeply the piece resonated with them, in spite of the work’s melancholy, and amazed to hear that for many it evoked their own childhood memories of North Carolina.”

The piece includes a film by Mark DeChiazza, with scenes from Salisbury featuring Snider’s own children. The project received grants from the Robertson and Woodson foundations.

“I felt sure the foundations would understand the significance and the important of this project for Salisbury,” Kluttz says. “The two agreed to fund filming. Both the Robertson and Woodson families were close to the Sniders.”

The concert is sponsored by Bill and Nancy Stanback, who were also friends of the Sniders.

“Returning to Salisbury for the local debut of ‘Hiraeth’ is pretty overwhelming,” Snider says. “I can only imagine how my grandparents would feel about all this. They were endlessly proud of Salisbury, a town whose history they worked hard to preserve in their work with the Historic Salisbury Foundation, and they were endlessly proud of their grandchildren.

“I think the combination of her Salisbury pride and grandmotherly pride would have probably been too much; my grandmother might have fainted on the way to the concert hall — to be quickly revived by some Cheerwine and cheese straws. I wish so much that I could share this moment with her, my grandfather, my aunt, and of course, my dad.

“But it is a thrill beyond words to share it with so many other family, friends, and neighbors whom they adored. I am deeply touched by and grateful for the support and hospitality Salisbury has shown me during the creation of this piece and its companion film, and I am immensely honored to share it with them on Salisbury soil.”

The North Carolina Symphony will premiere the work at the Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., in March 2017 as part of the Shift Festival of Orchestra.

The Salisbury performance will also feature “Three Dance Episodes” from Leonard Bernstein’s “On the Town” and two pieces from Bedrich Smetana’s work, “Ma Vlast.”

Tickets for the “Home” concert are $23.75 for ages 19 and older, $6.50 for students and ages 9 to 18, and $4.25 for ages 8 and younger. To purchase tickets, visit or the Salisbury Symphony’s ticket outlets: Rowan County Visitors Center, Sidewalk Deli in Salisbury, Pinocchio’s in Spencer, Crescent Pharmacy in Rockwell, and Corriher Springs Florist in China Grove. For more information, call 704-637-4314.

Freelance writer Susan Shinn lives in Salisbury.