Sara Doncaster 
Director, Warebrook Contemporary Music Festival


Dr. Sara Doncaster is the Executive Director of the Warebrook Contemporary Music Festival in Irasburg, Vermont, and Music Director at Lake Region Union High School in Orleans, Vermont. She is a recipient of a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a Citation of Merit from the Vermont Arts Council for Distinguished Service to the Arts. A graduate of Brandeis University,Sara earned her Ph.D. and Master of Arts in Theory & Composition. She earned a dual Bachelor of Music degree from Boston University in Theory & Composition and Piano Performance.

Don Whipple Photography

Sara’s work has been recognized by fellowships from the Ragdale Foundation, the Composers Conference at Wellesley College, the MacDowell Colony, the Millay Colony for the Arts (Jean & Louis Dreyfus Foundation Endowed Fellowship), the Corporation of Yaddo, The Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the June in Buffalo Composition Seminar. Other awards include ASCAP Standard Awards and production assistance grants from the Vermont Community Foundation Arts Endowment Fund and the American Composers Forum – New England Chapter. She was a finalist for the National Symphony Orchestra/John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Vermont Composer Commission. She received an Opportunity – Artist Development Grant from the Vermont Arts Council to support the completion of the piano/vocal score of her first opera, “Coriander and a Penny’s Worth of Lonesome” with librettist Ronald Falzone. Sara’s first orchestral work, “Rush Patrick’s Vision” was performed around the state as part of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra’s 2007 “Made in Vermont” Tour. Current projects include new scenes for "Coriander" and  a cantata for soloists, chorus, clarinet and piano based on the Old Testament story "Ruth."

Sara’s music has been commissioned and performed by the Hungarian Chamber Symphony Orchestra, Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Empyrean Ensemble, Concordia String Trio, Dinosaur Annex Music Ensemble, the Lydian String Quartet, Vermont Contemporary Music Ensemble, Susan Davenny Wyner, David Hoose, Paul Brust, Jon Garrison, Daniel C. Padgett, the Master Singers, the Auros Group for New Music, Village Harmony, St. Paul’s Episcopal Cathedral (Burlington, VT), Social Band, Village Harmony, and the Composers Conference at Wellesley College, among others. Her music has been broadcast over Vermont and Wisconsin Public Radio. 

Sara’s catalogue of works includes music for voice and piano, chamber music for mixed ensembles from three to ten players and choral music and larger-scale compositions for voice and chamber ensemble such as Biblical Sonnets for baritone and 14 instruments. Recent works include "Sandburg Songs" for tenor Jon Garrison,  and two choral  settings of poems by West Glover's Burt Porter. 

Sara has a State of Vermont Educators license in K-12th grade music. She worked as an elementary and middle school general, vocal and instrumental music educator for eleven years at Newport Town, Holland, Lowell and Coventry schools. In 2012 she began her current position as Music Director at Lake Region Union High School in Orleans, Vermont.  Sara taught elementary composition and chorus at the Warebrook Institute for the Advancement of Modern Music, was  a composer mentor for the Vermont MIDI Project,  and 2007 Composer-in-Residence for the Green Mountain Suzuki Institute in Rochester, Vermont.

What the Critics are Saying about Sara...

     "…the musical arrangements (of two scenes from Coriander and a Penny’s Worth of Lonesome) are ripe with Falzone’s dark humor and intense irony. Ms. Doncaster did justice to the complex of emotions involved in the characters of Coriander and her lovers."

Bud Vana, The Chronicle, July 2004

 “Center of Intent…combined some advanced harmonic language with a Romantic feel of form and lyricism…reassurance of form and some beautifully expressive melodies (gave) the work a sense of grandeur.

Jim Lowe, Times-Argus

          “Two Supernatural Songs (2002) continues Doncaster’s fascination with the verses of William Butler Yeats, being an excerpt from the central portion of a projected trilogy setting this poet’s work. Expertly treading the fuzzy line between consonant and dissonant sonic universes, it’s loaded with lyric, lush writing for voice and piano that never cloys.”

David Cleary, New Music Connoisseur

          “Supernatural Songs…a wonderful setting…If the texts are dense in meaning – and they are, loaded with allusions that might take some time to unravel – the music has a direct musical impact that is astonishing, and which speaks directly to the audience in its immediacy.”

Dan Wolfe, Shelburne News

          “…Supernatural Songs… was a dramatic, multi-hued composition that successfully intermingled triadic writing with dissonant serialism –no small feat.”

David Cleary, 21st Century Music

          “…possesses a strong technical command of compositional processes.”

Richard Buell, Boston Globe

          “Doncaster’s Incarnations for soprano and string quartet is also a riveting entity – restless, intense, sturdy stuff that masterfully mirrors its Yeats poems.…Doncaster’s fine Irish Hymn setting is like the proverbial swimming swan; one notes the smoothly sailing exterior, not the crafty mechanism that drives it.

David Cleary, New Music Connissieur

Warebrook Contemporary Music Festival