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Arlene Sierra is an American composer of contemporary classical music, working in London, United Kingdom.

Arlene Sierra
Background information
Birth nameArlene Elizabeth Sierra
BornMiami, Florida, U.S.
OriginNew York City, New York, U.S.
Years active1997–present
LabelsBridge Records
Associated actsNew York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, BBC National Orchestra of Wales


Sierra was born in Miami. She studied at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, Yale University School of Music and the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, receiving a DMA in 1999.


Her music has been commissioned by organizations including the Seattle Symphony,[1] Tanglewood Music Festival,[2] the New York Philharmonic,[3] the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival,[4] the Albany Symphony, the Cheltenham International Festival, the Jerome, PRS and Cheswatyr Foundations, and the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust. Performers of her work have included New York City Opera VOX, the American Composers Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, the New Music Players, Psappha, the International Contemporary Ensemble, Chroma, the Schubert Ensemble, the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, and the Tokyo Philharmonic. In 2001, she was the first woman to win the Takemitsu Prize;[5] in 2007 she received a Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters[6] with a citation for music, "by turns, urgent, poetic, evocative and witty." In 2011, a debut CD of chamber music was released by Bridge Records: Arlene Sierra, Volume 1[7][8] and she was named Composer of the Year by the Classical Recording Foundation.[9] A second CD, Game of Attrition: Arlene Sierra, Vol. 2, was released in 2014 including four orchestral works recorded by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Jac Van Steen, conductor. Butterflies Remember a Mountain - Arlene Sierra, Vol. 3 (2018) is a chamber disc including performances by Nicola Benedetti, Leonard Elschenbroich, the Horszowski Trio, and Quattro Mani.

Moler, an orchestral work commissioned by the Seattle Symphony, was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award in 2014.[citation needed]

Sierra was a Composition Tutor at Cambridge University in 2003-4 before joining Cardiff University School of Music in 2004, where she is currently[when?] Professor of Composition and Deputy Head of School.[citation needed]

Her music is published by Cecilian Music (ASCAP).

Musical styleEdit

Arlene Sierra's compositions are rooted in electronic music at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music.[10]


Works for OrchestraEdit

  • Nature Symphony for Orchestra (2017)
  • Moler for Orchestra (2012)
  • Game of Attrition for Chamber Orchestra (2009)
  • Aquilo for Orchestra (2001)
  • Aquae for Orchestra (2000)
  • Ballistae for Orchestra (2000)
  • Mantegna Diptych for Orchestra (2000)

Soloist and OrchestraEdit

  • Art of War Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (2010)
  • Dedication and Dance Trombone Concerto for Orchestra or Symphonic Winds (1994, revised 2003)

Wind EnsembleEdit

  • Dedication and Dance Trombone Concerto for Orchestra or Symphonic Winds (1994, revised 2003)

Large Ensemble (7 or more players)Edit

  • Colmena for 14 Players (2008)
  • Cicada Shell for Septet (2006)
  • Tiffany Windows for 12 players (2002)
  • Four Choreographic Studies for 10 Players (2001)
  • Ballistae for 13 Players (2000)

Soloist and Large Ensemble (7 or more players)Edit

  • Neruda Settings for Soprano and Chamber Ensemble (2002-5)

Works for 2 to 6 PlayersEdit

  • Butterflies Remember a Mountain for Piano Trio (2013)
  • Avian Mirrors for Violin and Cello (2013)
  • Insects in Amber String Quartet (2010)
  • Surrounded Ground for Sextet (2008)
  • A Conflict of Opposites for Violin or Clarinet and Piano (2005)
  • Truel for Piano Trio or Clarinet Trio (2004-7)
  • Truel 1 for Piano Trio or Clarinet Trio (2002-3)
  • Counting-Out Rhyme for Cello and Piano (2002)
  • Zwei Huhner for Oboe and Trombone (200o)
  • Harrow-Lines for Quintet (1999)
  • of Risk and Memory for Two Pianos (1997)
  • Four Love Songs for Viola and Piano (1993)
  • Duo for Violoncelli (1993)

Solo WorksEdit

  • Birds and Insects, Book 2 for Solo Piano and recorded birdsong (2015–18)
  • Cricket-Viol for Solo Viola/Voice (2010)
  • Birds and Insects, Book 1 Piano Solo (2007)
  • The Art of Lightness Flute Solo (2006)
  • Two Etudes After Mantegna Cello Solo (1998)

Solo Voice and up to 6 PlayersEdit

  • Hearing Things for Soprano and Piano (2008)
  • Streets and Rivers for Baritone and Piano (2007)
  • Two Neruda Odes for Soprano, Cello and Piano (2004)
  • Hand Mit Ringen for Soprano and Trio (2002)
  • Three Descriptions for Soprano and Piano (1997)

Electroacoustic WorksEdit

  • Urban Birds for 3 Pianos with Percussion and Recorded Birdsong (2014)
  • Birds and Insects, Book 2 for Solo Piano and recorded birdsong (2015–18)

Works with FilmEdit

  • Studies in Choreography chamber ensemble score to two Maya Deren films (2019)
  • Ritual in Transfigured Time chamber ensemble score to the Maya Deren film (2016)
  • Meditation on Violence chamber ensemble score to the Maya Deren film (2012)

Opera and Music TheatreEdit

  • Cuatro Corridos - Dalia Opera Scena for Soprano and Ensemble (2013)
  • Faustine Opera in one act for 5 Singers and Orchestra (2011-)


  • Four Choreographic Studies for 10 Players (2001)


  • Alike Dissolving for SATB, Children's Choir and String Orchestra (2001)
  • Alike Dissolving for Unaccompanied SATB (2001)
  • Alleluya (Bitter-Sweet) for four men's voices or SATB Chorus (2000)

Articles and interviewsEdit

External linksEdit


  1. ^ The Seattle Symphony and Music Director Ludovic Morlot Announce 2012–2013 Season "Press release" (Press release). Archived from the original on 2012-05-26. Retrieved 2012-03-11.
  2. ^ Oestreich, James, A First and a Finale, Along With A Birthday, The New York Times 23 July 2002 [1]
  3. ^ Rogers, Madeline, Contact! - Present at the Creation [2], Playbill, 16 Dec 2009
  4. ^ Fanning, David, Paean to a Great Dane,[3], Daily Telegraph, 27 Nov 2002
  5. ^ Takemitsu Award results, 2001 Archived November 23, 2010, at the Wayback Machine
  6. ^ American Academy of Arts and Letters Press Release, Music, 2007 Archived 2011-06-17 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Quinn, Michael, Bridge Records to launch series dedicated to music by Arlene Sierra,, 5 April 2011 [4]
  8. ^ Clements, Andrew, Sierra: Cicada Shell; Birds and Insects Book 1; Surrounded Ground, etc – review, The Guardian, 14 July 2011 [5]
  9. ^ "Classical Recording Foundation Honors Robert Paterson and Arlene Sierra with Composer of the Year Awards". November 23, 2011.
  10. ^ Oberlin Composers - Making it New [6] (2009/10) Oberlin Conservatory.