Sarah Quartel was born and raised in Great Britain in a family of musicians. A typical day would feature mom singing arias in the kitchen while cooking dinner, and dad, a church choir director, practicing his harpsichord in the basement. Sarah recalls “I think I was eight years old before I realized that having a harpsichord in your basement was a bit of a unique thing.”
In spite of her rich musical background, Quartel says that singing in choirs was her most profound influence as a composer, due to the unique marriage of text, melody, harmony, and careful pedagogy among her choral directors. In her compositions, she emulates this care, while allowing us a glimpse of the heartfelt connections that she made by singing in a choral group.
“Choral music has this incredible way of bringing people together,” says Quartel.
Sarah started her songwriting in high school, singing her original works in cafes and coffee houses. She found that her harmonies and textures were well suited for choral music. In university, she began composing in earnest for the choral genre, and she had her first commissioned work, Snow Angel, published in 2017 while in her second year of college. Since then, she has successfully published close to 30 choral pieces for a variety of voicings.
For Sara Quartel, composing is “not only a job… it’s also something I feel very emotionally connected to.”
Sing, My Child was commissioned in 2016 for the International Choral Kathaumixw (kathaumixw.org), a 5-day international choral festival in British Columbia that featured 700 singers. Text and music are written by the composer; she evokes the joys and beauty of everyday life. The harmonies are tight and colorful in ⅞ meter, while the simplicity of the refrain calls for reflection and perseverance throughout challenging times. In our first year back on the stage together, with the struggles of COVID and world crises, Sing, My Child is a reminder that there is always hope.
An Interview with Composer Sarah Quartel by Tom Sabatino on August 13, 2019 – JW Pepper Cued in Newsletter Series
2021 Sarah Quartel (website)
Oxford University Press 2022