B i o g r a p h y 

Sarah Rose Stiles 
I grew up in an eclectic musical household in Sonoma County, CA, where my ears witnessed anything from Bach Cantatas, Monteverdi, the Rollingstones, the Kingston Trio, my mother sight-reading Clementi at the piano, or my father’s Appalachian strummin’ and a hollerin’. After my parents cleaned out my mom’s old clunker piano full of the melting chewable vitamins I hated, and had it tuned, I began piano lessons with a hippy lady who eventually disappeared to India. After a switch to a new teacher and a lot of resistance to practice, I eventually turned around and passionately trained as a classical pianist, resulting in an adolescence full of performance, auditions, competitions, and winning awards. When my rebellious teenage spirit met the revolutions of Debussy, Schoenberg, and Stravinsky, my focus transitioned to composition. Twentieth Century music fueled me to follow suite in spirit. Raised with self-independent values, I explored untaught and instantly found my own compositional voice. This was reinforced and supported by professor Will Johnson who encouraged me to strike out and embrace “my own music.” I ganged up with some other youth to form a Composers’ Club, and organized concerts at the local Junior College. Moving on to continue studying music at U.C. Berkeley, I continued to compose unsupervised. Nonetheless, I gained meaty composition lessons by virtue of required classes such as music history, ethnomusicology, music theory, counterpoint, orchestration, and piano training, which all required study and analysis of composition. The last semester of my B.A. in Music, I was finally able to take my first official composition class, an opportunity with the late Jorge Liderman. After my B.A. in music at U.C. Berkeley, I continued composing independently, organized concerts of my music, and via composers’ organizations. Not much later, I entered and completed a Masters in Composition at the SF Conservatory.

My most recent premiere was in June 2019, a piece called Vignettes, which was composed for percussionist Matt Gold, and two members from the from the Mivos Quartet, violist Victor Lowrie Tafoya, and violoncellist Tyler J. Borden. Vignettes was featured at the Composers Forum of the Creative Musicians Retreat at the Walden Music School. My attendance to this weeklong intensive workshop “retreat” was partially funded by a Teacher Grant I won from the SF Community Music Center. There I had an enriching time gaining insight from composers Osnat Netzer and George Lewis. In December 2017 the experimental sfSound Group premiered my A CreationIn 2013 I was awarded a Faculty Grant from the San Francisco Community Music Center to fund my local-premiere of matins: three nocturnes, featured in a community concert I organized called All Shades Between......an eventide concert of light and dark pieces. Other performances of my ouvre include featured artist at the Meridian Gallery’s Composers in Performance Series, New Keys Concerts starring pianist Regina Schaffer, the Outsound Series at the Luggage Store Gallery, the Temescal Experiment as part of the Oakland Art Murmur, Berkeley Arts Festival, and with the Cornelius Cardew Choir.

I get a kick out of performing with the Cornelius Cardew Choir, an avant-garde experimental performance-art ensemble of composer-performer-improvisers, led by composer Tom Bickley. With the Cardew Choir I had the opportunity to perform with composer Pauline Oliveros in her Tower Ring at the Oliver Ranch, an independent art grounds in Geyserville, CA in 2011.

Other composition activities include dabbling in various types of computer music and digital audio classes. Summer 2018 I was awarded the Diversity in Computer Music Scholarship to attend a weeklong workshop at Stanford University studying the SuperCollider programming environment.

My future interests look toward applying for Doctoral studies in music composition, delving further into electronic composition, acoustics, and psychoacoustics.

As a teacher, I spent a year as Artist in Residence at the San Francisco School for the Arts where I taught music theory and musicianship. Since 2010 I have been an ensemble director and arranger, theory and musicianship instructor for the Young Musicians’ Program at the San Francisco Community Music Center. I also teach private lessons and classes in piano, composition, improvisation, theory, and musicianship, throughout the Greater SF Bay Area.

Outside of music, I find myself easily engaged in social justice, international feminism, environmentalism, science, nature and the outdoors, kayaking, hiking, backpacking, and recently succeeding with pride at digging and camping in my own snow-trench.

My website is http://www.SarahStiles.com