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Damien Sneed Continues to Break Ground in Classical Music

DamienSneedPhoto1Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient, composer, conductor, producer and multi-genre recording artist Damien Sneed continues to break ground in classical music. On Wednesday, December 9, Sneed joins multiple award-winning opera star Lawrence Brownlee, one of the top contemporary bel canto tenors in the world for a concert, “The Crypt Sessions” at the Church of the Intercession at 8:00 p.m., located at West 155th Street and Broadway in Harlem, New York. For tickets and more information, please visit,

“The Crypt Sessions” is a new concert series from Unison Media and the Church of the Intercession which features some of classical music and opera’s most gifted talent. Over the years, Sneed and Brownlee have collaborated on several live performances and recordings. Earlier this year, they performed music from their Spirtual Sketches album in Brownlee’s hometown of Youngstown, Ohio at the Ford Family Recital Hall. In 2013, Spiritual Sketches was produced by Sneed and released by his independent label, LeChateau Earl Records. Last year, Sneed was featured along with Brownlee, in the Allen Room for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook, where they performed music from Spiritual Sketches, the New York Times’ film and music critic, Stephen Holden, lauded Sneed and Brownlee for their resounding performance, writing that Sneed’s fresh arrangements turned the traditional gospel tunes into “concert art songs.” At Brownlee’s recital debut at Carnegie Hall, Brownlee performed spirituals arranged by Sneed. And Sneed was also featured with Brownlee in several recitals of arias, art songs and spirituals at venues around the country, including the Cincinnati College Conservatory in Ohio and the Asheville Lyric Opera in North Carolina.

As Sneed continues to make his mark in classical music as a pianist, conductor, choral director, composer and arranger, he has also created his signature brand of music, which blends classical, jazz and gospel into a contemporary art form. Earlier this year, Sneed made his Carnegie Hall conducting debut for Wynton Marsalis’ “Abyssinian 200: A Celebration” on the legendary Ronald O. Perelman Stage, which featured WorldStrides’ Heritage Performance National Jazz Choir accompanied by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Youth Orchestra.

Sneed served as producer, arranger and featured pianist on Testimony, a gospel/classical album by critically-acclaimed classical artist Audrey DuBois Harris. He also performed with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, the Minneapolis Symphony, Darin Atwater and Soulful Symphony, Opera Ebony and Opera Noire. He has collaborated with award-winning opera singer Jessye Norman on several performances. Sneed arranged three spirituals, chosen by Norman in honor of President Abraham Lincoln, and accompanied her in the performance of them at the Grand Reopening of Ford’s Theater in Washington, DC. The event, which was a part of the national Lincoln Bicentennial Celebration was attended by President and First Lady Obama. The event also featured George Lucas, James Earl Jones, Nancy Pelosi, Katie Couric, Joshua Bell, Audra McDonald, and Jeffrey Wright. In 2010, he had his debut at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, accompanying Norman for a gala performance. Sneed also accompanied Norman for her performances at the International AIDS Conference Gala held at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC, and at the 10th Annual Jessye Norman School of the Arts Fundraising Gala at Augusta State University in Georgia. Sneed has accompanied prominent soprano Angela Brown, as well as mezzo sopranos Denyce Graves and Lorna Meyers, and rising operatic soprano Brandie Sutton.

March 2010, marked Sneed’s solo classical piano debut at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, where he also accompanied violinist, Joung Hoon Song, from the New England Conservatory faculty, and soprano Dusica Bijelic. In 2012, Sneed made his Carnegie Hall debut, performing as a featured soloist in the work, Fier Herzog for Piano and Orchestra by composer Diogo Pereira.

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Sneed has conducted and arranged music for several choral groups and orchestras including the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. He conducted and arranged music for a combined student orchestra of The Juilliard School and Manhattan School of Music, commemorating Black History Month. Sneed was featured as conductor of the premiere of Nkeiu Okoye’s new opera, Harriet Tubman, at the Recital Hall at the University at Albany, State University of New York, and he was guest conductor of the University of South Carolina Symphony Orchestra. He also was an accompanist for the Boys Choir of Harlem and the Oakwood College Aeolians.

In March 2014, Sneed was honored, along with Carla Dirlikov and Pedrito Martinez, as a 2014 Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient, at an event at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, and was among the guests of honor at a black tie dinner at the United States Supreme Court, hosted by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor. Sneed was selected for the honor as one of the emerging Black and Latino leaders in classical music who demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination and leadership potential.

This past weekend, Sneed joined author Karen Chilton for the inaugural production of The Soul Now Sings: A Musical Christmas Journey at the Greene Space at WNYC/WQXR in the SoHo section of New York City. The Soul Now Sings tells a story of hope and transformation and featured a mix of Sneed’s original classical, gospel, and jazz infused arrangements.


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