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In the Club with: Audrey Q. Snyder

Updated: Mar 5, 2021

For our eleventh episode, we are thrilled to welcome cellist Audrey Q. Snyder and new media artist Xuan. Welcome, Audrey!

Tell us about a recent musical experience that you particularly enjoyed.

My friend Will Yager just played a show for the 5pm Series recently - he’s a great bassist and improviser, and performed some really amazing pieces (which I think were all written for him) and crazy cool sounds. You can still stream it on Facebook.

Who are some composers or ensembles you’ve been enjoying listening to lately?

My listening has been really all over the place lately. I recently have been checking out some more of Peter Gabriel’s stuff - I was mostly just into So (because of “Sledgehammer,” obviously), but also checked out Peter Gabriel 3: Melt and it’s a wild time. I’ve been sitting with some experimental/ambient/improvisational/hard-to-define stuff, like NbN trio and this collab called Nowhere with Marilu Donovan & Tristan Kasten-Krause. And then to top it all off, I just discovered that Rhiannon Giddens plays in this supergroup called Our Native Daughters and they have an album, so...

Is there a specific experience that got you interested in contemporary music?

When I transferred to Eastman in my undergrad, I had already been playing some new music, but it was after transferring that I really started to appreciate and enjoy the process of working directly with composers on their pieces, making sounds that were different from what I’d been learning in more “traditional” repertoire, and programming new music. I joined up with fellow students Edo Frenkel and Kyle Quarles to run this new music ensemble/organization/collective, and it was kind of chaotic sometimes, but also really fun and an amazing learning experience. It was really my first experience thinking about how non-commercial music could work outside of concert halls.

How do you think about the role of new music or purpose of making new music today?

Honestly, I feel two ways about it. I think music for music’s sake is totally fine - whatever form that takes. I think people should be able to write something that sounds cool to them without any need for program notes, or a really complicated process, or…whatever else. I also think that being really specific about writing, commissioning, and programming music that has a theme, a mission, and some tie-in to a community can be really cool and rewarding. As someone who just plays music and has very few skills outside of that, I feel like if I can put together projects that draw attention to something or get people more interested in an aspect of their world, that can be my way of contributing. I’m working on a project right now that will (fingers crossed) hopefully draw attention to prairie plant conservation and sustainability in Chicago; I commissioned a piece specifically inspired by the prairie ecosystem, and now I’m hoping to use that as a jumping off point for something more relevant to a wider community.

Outside of music, what are some other types of art, media, or entertainment that you particularly enjoy?

I really love sci-fi, sometimes fantasy. Sci-fi is what got me back into regular reading-- instead of trying to read what I thought I *should* be reading, I realized that I just wanted to read about other worlds and other realities. In general I just like stories - I’ve always loved Star Trek and the optimism for the future that’s written into each series; on the other side of the spectrum, I’ve really come to appreciate horror movies in the last several years - I feel like horror in particular is a genre that facilitates the examination of cultural norms, and serves as a space where we can bring our demons out into the light and get a good look at them.

Thank you for joining us, Audrey!

Audrey Q. Snyder is a cellist in Chicago, Illinois. She is an advocate of contemporary instrumental music, and has collaborated with members of Ensemble Signal, Ensemble Dal Niente, and others. Snyder is a core member of the Chicago-based Zafa Collective, a new music group founded with the idea of inclusivity (both in programming and performance) at its core. In December 2019, Snyder produced, performed in and coordinated the live performance of New Music//New Film Collaborative, a year-long project that facilitated the creation of 5 new pieces with corresponding video art; all audio with video was released in 2020.

As a pop and rock musician, Snyder released a selection of her own songs (under the name "Audrey Q") on Melodie EP in June 2015, and a second EP, Restless Lady, in November 2017; her third EP, Where to Find the Blankets, was released at the end of 2020. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of Neil Young's After the Gold Rush, Audrey arranged the entirety of the album and performed it with her band in September 2020. As a theater musician, she has played in professional productions of The Lion King, Mary Poppins, The Bridges of Madison County, Oklahoma!, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Oliver!. Most recently, Audrey has subbed regularly on Hamilton: An American Musical in Chicago. In 2019, she performed with The Who as part of their Moving On! tour.

Audrey holds a B.M. and M.M. (with an Arts Leadership Certificate) from the Eastman School of Music, where she studied with Alan Harris.

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