About Kim D. Sherman


Kim Sherman is a composer whose music covers the spectrum of genres from opera to chamber and orchestral to musical theater. New works currently under construction are “Ada,” an opera about Ada Lovelace, “Makeover” a musical about a pioneering cosmetics entrepreneur, and “Summer 1976” a song cycle for lyric baritone and string quartet.  Her “Song of Songs,” for strings, harp and soprano was premiered in 2004 by San José Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Barbara Day Turner.  “Graveside,” her a cappella choral work, was recorded by Musica Sacra and has been performed throughout the US and Europe.  On Broadway, she wrote incidental music for “I Hate Hamlet.” Other works include “A Prairie Diary” (song cycle,) “The Happiest and Unhappiest of Men” (chorus and orchestra, commissioned by The Mendelssohn Club of Philadelphia,) “Karner Blue,” (flute and piano, commissioned by The Pappoutsakis Foundation,) “The Vision” (guitar and oboe,) “Love’s Comedy” (opera based on the play by Henrik Ibsen,) and several musicals, among them: “HeartLand,” “O Pioneers!,” “Honor Song for Crazy Horse” and “The Two Orphans.”  

Ms. Sherman studied piano and composition at Lawrence University, and composition and orchestration with composer Thea Musgrave. Her career started in Minneapolis, where she was awarded two Kudos Awards for her work in the theatre. A New Yorker since 1983, she is a regular volunteer composer and mentor for The 52nd Street Project. 



6 responses to “About Kim D. Sherman

  1. Looking forward to following the opera. Can you describe how you prefer to create your melodies? At the piano? Alone in the room? Playing through the work for others as it is coming into being? Do you like feedback?

  2. Hi Randall! I will be sharing details of my creative process as I go from piano score to full orchestration. We have had several readings-in-progress which have been quite helpful. As to the melodies – I generally like to start there, with the text of course. For me, text suggests shape and direction of melody, and definitely rhythm. The composer is creating “line readings” for the entire opera, a grave responsibility. I am so grateful to have written scores for many Shakespeare plays, and to have had the opportunity to sit next to some of our greatest speech coaches in the theatre. While I write alone in my studio at the piano and at the computer, I tend to finesse the work when I am with the singers and my fabulous music director, Kimberly Grigsby. And of course, as I write, I share each bit and piece with my collaborators, “midi-style” – my director, Lisa Rothe, is particularly great at specific feedback about the dramatic intricacies.

    • Thank you, Kim. I’m working with young composers who are interested in the creative process of setting texts – sometimes, their own lyrics and sometimes poetry.
      It is helpful to hear that you work alone in your studio at the inception of ideas and that you find the rhythm of words (line reading) to be particularly helpful. I wonder if you like to generate melodic ideas while improvising at the piano or what creative tools (besides computer and piano) you use.
      My students and I are using three primary and two secondary tools: improvisation (using the hand as an icon), imaging music (ear), singing (a profile head with an open mouth); seeing patterns (glasses) and analyzing ideas (I-IV). Do you prefer any of these tools over others OR do you have other creative tools for generating your musical ideas?

  3. Randall, my approach involves singing first (either out loud or in my head so perhaps that is what you are calling imaging) then improvisation at the keyboard. Seeing and playing with patterns comes later and if I really get into a pinch, I analyze. As you can probably tell, I rely on my intuition first and my analytical skills second. But now that I am sweeping through the score again and fleshing out the orchestration, this will all change. First challenge will be to find the right sound to support the drama. I have no “tried and true” method that I can describe – yet. But it is what I’m going to be talking about in the blog as I go.

    I would love to move this discussion to the main page of the blog – under “creative process” (which I will start soon) – just so it will be a more visible dynamic conversation. And then we can also talk about the composing/talking about it ratio! I anticipate creating a new post once a week. I will also be inviting my librettist, director and singers to post as we go along.

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