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. At 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.”
“As You Sing” by Sarah Quartel is a lively and rhythmic SSAA piece that incorporates hand drums as its sole accompaniment. The piece begins with a soloist or small group singing a brief melody, which is then echoed by the full choir. This call-and-response pattern continues throughout the piece, with various sections of the choir taking turns singing the lead melody.
The hand drums enter shortly after the choir begins singing, establishing a driving rhythm that propels the piece forward. The drums play throughout the piece, with occasional breaks or fills that add interest and variation to the accompaniment.
The harmonies in “As You Sing” are largely diatonic and straightforward, with occasional moments of dissonance or unexpected chord progressions. The piece is joyful and celebratory. This is well-suited to its theme of singing and making music together. The final statement of the melody builds with a gradual crescendo, never subsiding until it culminates at the very end of the piece.