• Arlene Sierra, Composer

    Her music noted for its “highly flexible and distinctive style” (The Guardian), ranging from “exquisiteness and restrained power” to “combative and utterly compelling” (Gramophone), Arlene Sierra is widely regarded as one of today’s most original composers. Recent premieres include Nature Symphony “memorable for its creation of wonderful sounds from a large orchestra” (Bachtrack.com) commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Philharmonic, Dalia from Cuatro Corridos, a monodrama for soprano Susan Narucki which toured the U.S. and Mexico and was broadcast on Mexican television, and Urban Birds commissioned by the PRS New Music Biennale for a U.K. tour including the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

    Sierra has composed works for the International Contemporary Ensemble, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Bremen Philharmonic Society, the Carducci Quartet, Lontano, Psappha, the Albany Symphony, and the Seattle Symphony. Notable events include European performances of the work Butterflies Remember a Mountain, described as “precisely and joyously imagined” (The Times), by the Benedetti-Elschenbroich-Grynyuk Trio at the Concertgebouw and at the BBC Proms, a recording of Sierra’s piano concerto Art of War, and other works by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and the New York Philharmonic commission for chamber orchestra Game of Attrition, described by Time Out as “at turns spry, savage, sly and seductive… so enrapturing.” Current projects include the scheduled world premiere of Bird Symphony, part of Sierra’s role as Composer-in-Association with the Utah Symphony.

    Declared “a name to watch” by BBC Music Magazine, Arlene Sierra is the subject of a series of portrait recordings by the prestigious Bridge Records label. Sierra first came to international attention when she was awarded the Takemitsu Prize in 2001. Further awards have included the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Classical Recording Foundation Composer of the Year, a PRS Foundation Composers Fund award, fellowships including Aspen, Aldeburgh Britten-Pears, the MacDowell Colony, and a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. She has had the honour of Composer Portrait concerts at the Crush Room, Royal Opera House, London, the Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival, Vermont, Composers Now New York, and Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. Sierra’s orchestral showpiece Moler was nominated for a Latin GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

    Arlene Sierra currently serves as Professor of Music Composition at Cardiff University School of Music. She lives in London with her husband, British composer Kenneth Hesketh, and their son Elliott.

  • Arlene Sierra, Composer

    Her music noted for its “highly flexible and distinctive style” (The Guardian), ranging from “exquisiteness and restrained power” to “combative and utterly compelling” (Gramophone), Arlene Sierra is widely regarded as one of today’s most original composers. Recent premieres include Nature Symphony “memorable for its creation of wonderful sounds from a large orchestra” (Bachtrack.com) commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Philharmonic, Dalia from Cuatro Corridos, a monodrama for soprano Susan Narucki which toured the U.S. and Mexico and was broadcast on Mexican television, and Urban Birds commissioned by the PRS New Music Biennale for a U.K. tour including the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

    Sierra has composed works for the International Contemporary Ensemble, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, the Bremen Philharmonic Society, the Carducci Quartet, Lontano, Psappha, the Albany Symphony, and the Seattle Symphony. Notable events include European performances of the work Butterflies Remember a Mountain, described as “precisely and joyously imagined” (The Times), by the Benedetti-Elschenbroich-Grynyuk Trio at the Concertgebouw and at the BBC Proms, a recording of Sierra’s piano concerto Art of War and other works by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and the New York Philharmonic commission for chamber orchestra Game of Attrition, described by Time Out as “at turns spry, savage, sly and seductive… so enrapturing.” Current projects include the scheduled world premiere of Bird Symphony, part of Sierra’s role as Composer-in-Association with the Utah Symphony.

    Arlene Sierra’s solo and chamber works have appeared in numerous international programmes – from the Tanglewood Festival and Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in the U.S., to Germany’s Alte Oper Frankfurt and the Louvre, Paris, from St Moritz in Switzerland to the Aldeburgh and Huddersfield Festivals in the U.K. She has worked with conductors including Andris Nelsons, Susanna Mälkki, Oliver Knussen, Jac Van Steen, and Ludovic Morlot; with ensembles including the Tokyo Philarmonic, London Sinfonietta, Boston Symphony, Alabama Symphony, Österreichisches Ensemble für neue Musik, Chroma, and New York City Opera VOX. Sierra has worked with soloists including Claire Booth, Huw Watkins, Wendy Richman, Rowland Sutherland, Eric Lamb, Xenia Pestova, Marilyn Nonken, and Clare Hammond.

    Her music is the subject of a series of portrait recordings by the prestigious Bridge Records label. Arlene Sierra, Vol. 1, recorded by the International Contemporary Ensemble, received rave reviews internationally and was featured by NPR Classical, which described its “remarkable brilliance of color, rhythmic dexterity and playfulness.” The orchestral disc Game of Attrition: Arlene Sierra, Vol. 2 has been praised for “vividly scored, colorful works” by The New York Times and described by The Guardian as “remarkably sure-footed… quirky and individual” and “startlingly fresh and assured.” Gramophone Magazine has described Sierra’s latest release Butterflies Remember a Mountain - Arlene Sierra, Vol. 3 as “a wonderful chamber music issue that enthrals from first bar to last.” Other labels representing Sierra’s work include NMC, New Focus Recordings, and Coviello Classics.

    Declared “a name to watch” by BBC Music Magazine, Arlene Sierra first came to international attention when she was awarded the Takemitsu Prize in 2001. The award resulted in a performance of her work Aquilo by the Tokyo Philharmonic, conducted by Susanna Mälkki at Tokyo Opera City. Later that year she received the Otto Eckstein Fellowship at the Tanglewood Music Festival, followed by the Paul Jacobs Award commission for Neruda Settings premiered at Tanglewood in 2002. Further awards have included the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Classical Recording Foundation Composer of the Year, a PRS Foundation Composers Fund award, fellowships including Aspen, Aldeburgh Britten-Pears, the MacDowell Colony, and a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. She has had the honour of Composer Portrait concerts at the Crush Room, Royal Opera House, London, the Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival, Vermont, Composers Now New York, and Columbia University’s Miller Theatre. Sierra’s orchestral showpiece Moler was nominated for a Latin GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

    Born in Miami to a family of New Yorkers, Arlene Sierra holds degrees from Oberlin College-Conservatory, Yale School of Music, and the University of Michigan. Her principal teachers were Martin Bresnick, Michael Daugherty, and Jacob Druckman; she worked with Betsy Jolas and Dominique Troncin at Fontainebleau, and Paul-Heinz Dittrich in Berlin. At Tanglewood, Aldeburgh, and Dartington she studied with Louis Andriessen, Magnus Lindberg, Colin Matthews, and Judith Weir. Arlene Sierra currently serves as Professor of Music Composition at Cardiff University School of Music. She lives in London with her husband, British composer Kenneth Hesketh, and their son Elliott.