Review of Taking Up Serpents

“[We] get to know the principal characters through Ms. Sankaram’s skillful, passionate vocal writing… Ms. Sankaram’s music deftly limns Kayla’s limbo state (she works in a mini-mart and is full of longing) as well as her growing anger; for example, the flute that flutters tentatively around her vocal line at the beginning becomes an insistent presence as she finds her courage. It also ingeniously depicts her environment with choral writing inspired by the raw contours of shape-note singing, deployed both in the church and on a midnight bus ride full of lost people…

Its spare orchestration is built on string drones and slithering glissandos and colored with punchy special effects, such as the whirly tubes that make a soft, creepy hooting sound, associated with Kayla’s memories.”