Sarah Neufeld is a violinist and composer based in Montréal, Canada. Best known as a member of Arcade Fire, she is also a founding member of the acclaimed contemporary instrumental ensemble Bell Orchestre and has performed and recorded with many other groups, including The Luyas, Esmerine and Little Scream.
Neufeld began developing pieces for solo violin in a more formal and focused sense in 2011, though she has made improvisation and solo composition part of her process and practice since first picking up the instrument at a young age. Neufeld counts Bela Bartok, Steve Reich, Iva Bittova and Arthur Russell among the formative influences for her solo work, in tandem with an ear for the textures and sensibilities of contemporary electro-acoustic, avant-folk and indie rock music.
Neufeld's debut solo album Hero Brother indeed channels all of the above, flowing through shifting atmospheres and oscillating between restrained, stately ambience, emotive études, and raw kinetic energy. Small touches of wordless vocalisation, harmonium and piano supplant the violin in a few places. The album was recorded in Berlin by pianist and producer Nils Frahm, with Neufeld's performances captured in a number of locations with site-specific acoustics, including an abandoned geodesic dome, an underground parking garage, and the legendary Studio P4 orchestral recording hall at the broadcast complex of the former GDR. Hero Brother was released on Constellation Records in August 2013.
Sarah has recently premiered her solo music at BAM (Brooklyn), the WSO New Music Festival (Winnipeg) and Wavelength Festival (Toronto), of which Exclaim magazine wrote "the highlight of the night was most certainly Sarah Neufeld, whose compositions range from Reichian to folksy without skipping a beat; she uses violin squeals, growls, scrapes and slides to express varying emotions and stomps the stage beneath her for percussion."