Sarah Rimkus

Sarah Rimkus is an award-winning American composer of choral, vocal and chamber works.

She brings a wide range of influences to her music, from ars antiqua and ars nova polyphony to Balkan and Scandinavian folk traditions and many other sources. Her work often explores issues such as communication, belonging, and relationship to the environment through use musical layering and contradiction. Her music has been described as “challenging yet attractive” and “always powerful and well-judged,” with a language that “ranges from uncluttered lyrical poignancy to denser textures that suggest a holy clamor.”

Her choral and vocal works have been commissioned and performed extensively across the United States, the United Kingdom and elsewhere by ensembles including The Esoterics, C4: The Choral Composer/Conductor Collective, Harmonium Choral Society, and the Gesualdo Six. Her works have been professionally recorded by ensembles on both sides of the Atlantic, featured on BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM, and published by GIA Publications, Walton Music, and See-a-dot Publications. Much of her inspiration in her choral works come from her inventive text choices, from scientific writing to multi-lingual translations of sacred texts and many other sources. Upcoming projects include a new work inspired by naturalist Maria Sybilla Merian for the Glasgow School of Art Choir, as part of the Composeher project, in partnership with the Glasgow Women’s Library and Creative Scotland. She has also written instrumental works for performers and organizations including The Ligeti Quartet, Cheltenham Music Festival, Red Note Ensemble, and organist Roger Williams MBE. Her works received approximately one hundred performances worldwide in 2019, and she has been internationally recognized through awards such as the ASCAP Morton Gould Award, the ASCAP Foundation Leonard Bernstein award, and a number of others.

Dr. Rimkus is also passionate about teaching composition and supporting her students and fellow composers. She is currently an instructor at Michigan Technological University, teaching composition and music fundamentals (first-year theory and musicianship). As a teaching assistant at the University of Aberdeen, she taught courses including second year theory and composition, third year composition, and a new course she developed on the life and works of twentieth century composer George Crumb. She has also served in ensemble leadership roles, including as general manager of the University of Aberdeen Chamber Choir and artistic director of Spectrum, the University of Aberdeen’s new music ensemble. During her time with Spectrum, she coached world premieres of chamber works by students ranging from fellow PhD candidates to third year undergraduates receiving public performances for the first time. As a conductor, she has conducted her own works on many occasions and led performances including Aberdeen’s St Andrew’s Cathedral Choir performing Mozart’s Requiem in 2018.

She recently completed her PhD in music composition at the University of Aberdeen with Phillip Cooke and Paul Mealor, after completing her MM in composition with distinction at the University of Aberdeen in 2015. She earned her BM 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.  

She was born in Washington, DC in 1990 and moved to Bainbridge Island, Washington in 1998. She is currently based in the beautiful Upper Peninsula of Michigan where she lives with her husband, fellow composer Thomas LaVoy.



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