Photography by William Vasta, 2014.

Sakari Dixon Vanderveer’s inspirations for composing have primarily originated from a desire to write music for those around her. While earning her BM in Composition at the University of Redlands, Sakari’s relationships with her colleagues led to commissions by instrumentalists such as Spencer Baldwin, Kelsey Broersma, and the PHAZE Ensemble. Her studies with Kira Blumberg and Dr. Anthony Suter enabled her to engage with the music community not just as a composer and performer but also an advocate for contemporary music. Since graduating from Redlands, Sakari has premiered new works as a violist with local organizations such as the Redlands Community Orchestra, Musica Viva, and the Inland Empire Composers Concert Series.


In recent years, Sakari has continued to study composition primarily with Reena Esmail. Named a Sounds Promising Young Composer of the Salastina Music Society for the 2018-2019 concert season, Sakari composed the piano quintet, “Obsidian, rippled in moonlight, gleams” for their annual Sounds Local program while studying with Derrick Spiva, Jr. She will write a commission for their Sounds Festive: The Four Seasons x 2 program in December 2019.


As a teacher of orchestral strings, working with youth remains a driving inspiration behind much of her work. In May 2019, Sakari’s commission “The Enigma of the Twilight Stallion” was premiered by students in MÚSICA!, an El Sistema program in San Jacinto, CA. This multi-level orchestral piece will receive its European premiere by El Sistema Greece during the 2019-2020 school year. Sakari’s desire is that giving children from all walks of life access to contemporary music and composition will give them a better appreciation and understanding of concert music – new and old – so that they can cherish it and engage in it throughout their lives.