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Arlene Sierra

b. 1970

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Arlene Sierra is a London-based American composer whose music is lauded for its “highly flexible and distinctive style” (The Guardian), ranging from “exquisiteness and restrained power” to “combative and utterly compelling” (Gramophone). Her work has been commissioned and performed by the Albany, Alabama, Boston, Detroit, Seattle, and Utah Symphonies, New York Philharmonic, Tokyo Philharmonic, BBC Philharmonic, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, ensembles including Lontano, Psappha, Riot Ensemble, International Contemporary Ensemble, London Sinfonietta, Österreichisches Ensemble für neue Musik, Chroma, New Juilliard Ensemble, the Carducci, Daedalus, and Mivos Quartets, the Fidelio, Peabody, Bakken, and Horszowski Trios, and New York City Opera VOX. She has worked with conductors including Thierry Fischer, Andris Nelsons, Kevin John Edusei, Susanna Mälkki, Oliver Knussen, Jac Van Steen, Shiyeon Sung, Odaline de la Martinez, Jayce Ogren, Grant Llewellyn, and Ludovic Morlot. Her music has been performed at festivals including Aldeburgh, Aspen, Bowdoin, Cheltenham, Fontainebleau, Huddersfield, Dartington, and Tanglewood.

Notable premieres include Nature Symphony “memorable for its creation of wonderful sounds from a large orchestra” ( commissioned by BBC Radio 3 and the BBC Philharmonic, Butterflies Remember a Mountain for the Benedetti-Elschenbroich-Grynyuk Trio, described as “precisely and joyously imagined” (The Times) and performed in venues including the Concertgebouw and the BBC Proms, and a New York Philharmonic commission for chamber orchestra Game of Attrition, described by Time Out as “at turns spry, savage, sly and seductive… so enrapturing.” Awards include the Takemitsu Composition Prize, a Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, PRS Composers Fund and Women Make Music awards, and a Leverhulme Research Fellowship. Her orchestral showpiece Moler was nominated for a Latin GRAMMY for Best Contemporary Classical Composition.

Her music is the subject of a series of portrait recordings by the esteemed 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 colour, 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.

As Utah Symphony Composer-in-Association in 2021-2022, Arlene Sierra worked closely with musicians and the community, creating a new work for youth orchestra, Butterfly House, and her most recent large-scale statement for orchestra, Bird Symphony, to audience and critical acclaim. Current projects include Kiskadee, a Toulmin Foundation commission for the Detroit Symphony with further scheduled performances with the Dallas, Illinois, Louisiana, and Wheeling Symphonies. Born in Miami to a family of New Yorkers, Arlene Sierra holds degrees from Oberlin CollegeConservatory, Yale School of Music, and the University of Michigan. She currently serves as Professor of Music Composition at Cardiff University School of Music.

Biography taken from composer’s website.
Photo: Ian Phillips-McLaren

A Conflict of Opposites | 2005 | 11 mins

Clarinet And Piano

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Le Chai au Quai | 2008 | 3 mins

Bass Clarinet And Cello

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Truel | 2007 | 21 mins

Clarinet, Cello, Piano

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