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  • Born

    1 June 1970 (age 54)

  • Born In

    Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida, United States

An American based in London, Arlene Sierra was one of the first composers to be commissioned by the New York Philharmonic in its opening season under Music Director Alan Gilbert in 2009. The press responded, “The new age of classical music in New York couldn’t be more aptly heralded than with Arlene Sierra’s Game of Attrition. … At turns spry, savage, sly and seductive, Game of Attrition is a Stravinskian play among brass and strings, piano and percussion … so enrapturing.” (Time Out NY)

Sierra gained international recognition with her first score for large orchestra, Aquilo, which was awarded the 2001 Takemitsu Prize at the behest of Oliver Knussen. Her music has been heard worldwide in performances by the Tokyo Philharmonic, the London Sinfonietta, ICE, Psappha, the Albany Symphony, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Lontano, Collage New Music, the Fidelio Trio, Chroma, Gemini, the Great Noise Ensemble, the Schubert Ensemble and many others. Festival performances include Tanglewood (a Paul Jacobs Award commission, Neruda Settings), Aldeburgh, Spitalfields, Pur Oder Plus (Germany), Fontainebleau (France) and dance festivals Jacob’s Pillow and Danspace St. Marks (NY). Her piano concerto Art of War, for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and soloist Huw Watkins, was premiered at the 2010 Vale of Glamorgan Festival and broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

Arlene Sierra has been the subject of a Composer Portrait series concert at the Miller Theatre, New York (2009), Spotlight on: Arlene Sierra, an hour-long show and podcast on New York Public Radio (2006), and a Showcase concert at the Crush Room, Royal Opera House, London (2007). She was awarded a Charles Ives Fellowship by the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2007. Major funding for her debut CD with Bridge Records was awarded by the Aaron Copland Fund for Music and the Ditson Fund at Columbia University, with release planned for Spring 2011. Featuring works from Sierra’s Miller Composer Portrait, performers on the CD will include soprano Susan Narucki, the Daedalus Quartet, pianist Vassily Primakov, and the International Contemporary Ensemble, Jayce Ogren conductor.

Upcoming projects include an opera Faustine in development with ROH2, Covent Garden and a string quartet Insects in Amber for the Carducci Quartet, co-commissioned by the Concert Artists Guild of New York and the Cheltenham Festival, UK.

A graduate of Oberlin (B.A., B.Mus.), Yale (M.Mus.) and University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (D.Mus.), Arlene Sierra’s principal teachers were Martin Bresnick, Michael Daugherty and Jacob Druckman. As a fellow at Tanglewood, Aldeburgh, and Dartington she worked with Louis Andriessen, Magnus Lindberg, Colin Matthews, and Judith Weir. Dr. Sierra is currently Senior Lecturer and Programme Director in Composition at Cardiff University School of Music.

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