Sarah Rimkus

Sarah Rimkus is an award-winning American composer of choral, vocal and chamber works. Her music is harmonically and melodically driven with 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.    

Dr. Rimkus’s 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. Many of her works are sacred, often taking inspiration from the British choral tradition, including a mass setting in both Latin and Scottish Gaelic premiered by the Cathedral Choir of St Andrews, Aberdeen in June 2017. She often compiles and edits her own texts, and writes on important historical or contemporary events and themes. 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 venues such as Buckingham Palace and the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. She has publications with GIA and Walton Music, and self-publishes many of her scores.

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.

Dr. Rimkus recently completed her PhD in music composition 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 students in Aberdeen through the Sound Festival and taught extensively on music courses at the University. She served as sole instructor and course coordinator for second-year composition on multiple occasions and developed and taught a new course on the life and works of George Crumb. As artistic director of Spectrum New Music Ensemble, she conducted and coached performances of contemporary chamber works, including thirteen world premieres of compositions by Aberdeen students of various degree levels.

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 where she lives with her fiancé Thomas LaVoy, a cat named Muffin and a dog named Sandwiches.

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