Spotlight: Composing with Sarah Neufeld

The incomparable Sarah Neufeld is the co-composer (along with Jeremy Gara) for Peggy’s upcoming major work who we are in the dark. Sarah is best known as a member of the Juno and Grammy award-winning band Arcade Fire and is also a member of the post-rock band Bell Orchestre. She has a number of solo albums to her credit, and we cannot express how excited we are - the whole company! - to be working with an artist of this calibre.

In a recent newsletter sent out to her subscribers, Sarah says: “I've been working on a capital P Project. Something I've always wanted to do: scoring an entire piece of contemporary choreography… I'm really proud of this show. It's tender, emotional, fierce, and dark. It's the start of a new body of work for me, and, an entirely different ocean to swim in as a composer, collaborator and performer.”

This week, Sarah and Peggy were interviewed by Matt Galloway on CBC’s Metro Morning. Below is a short excerpt where Sarah discusses her process composing the music for who we are in the dark.


Matt Galloway: …You wrote “it was an entirely different ocean to swim in as a composer, collaborator and performer”.

Sarah Neufeld: Oh! You saw my newsletter. Yeah – because you know I get asked what’s it like to work on this project a lot and it is completely different. Writing to something that’s not fully formed but on its way to being fully formed. And I like it because it provides a totally different container in which to pour your energy and efforts, you know everything – internal language. I love something that’s challenging and completely different from, say, how a band creates music or how I compose music on my own or how I collaborate with others. We started off at the Banff residency last January and I loved how awkward it was as well because it was me and my instrument and this team of amazing dancers who were already rehearsing material. I was just responding really from a pretty unconscious place which I also love to do, I’m an improviser, so I was improvising in the room with dancers which I have done before but this was so much more of like, ok you’re doing this and then you are creating a piece.

Matt Galloway: That is a lot of trust to put into somebody Peggy, you have to trust that what they are going to come up with is going to suit what you already have in your mind.

Peggy Baker: So I am choosing fantastic people to work with! That is the secret, that’s the magic of the whole thing! And honestly every single person who is working on this project has that much agency because they are not just learning steps they are creating steps with me and with each other.

Matt Galloway: Do you think of movement when you’re composing?

Sarah Neufeld: I do! I feel it. I grew up simultaneously studying violin and dance and I don’t know if that is why I feel movement when I am hearing music but I do. It is always internally part of the same thing. I am a physical composer.

We are one week away from the world premiere of who we are in the dark. Do not miss out on seeing this thrilling show featuring stunning dance, as well as breath taking music composed by Sarah Neufeld and Jeremy Gara. Head to our website for more information about tickets and our upcoming National Tour! We cannot wait to share this show with all of you!