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Dr Arlene Sierra

Overview

Arlene Sierra Position: Senior Lecturer Email: SierraAE@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone: +44(0)29 208 74382
Fax: +44(0)29 208 74379
Extension: 74382
Location: Main Music Building, Corbett Road, Room 1.02

Dr Sierra, a UK-based American composer, writes music that takes its impetus from rich sources, including military strategy and game theory, Darwinian evolution and the natural world. The Guardian describes her work as having ‘its own character, in which historical and contemporary influences are fused into a highly flexible and distinctive style’, while Time Out New York describes it as ‘spry, savage, sly and seductive’. Performers include the Tokyo Philharmonic, the London Sinfonietta, New York City Opera VOX, ICE, Psappha, Lontano, the New Juilliard Ensemble, the Schubert Ensemble, and many others. Important commissions include Game of Attrition (New York Philharmonic), Art of War (BBC National Orchestra of Wales), Cicada Shell (Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust), Insects in Amber (Cheltenham Music Festival), Neruda Settings (Tanglewood Music Festival), Hand Mit Ringen (Huddersfield Music Festival), Moler (Seattle Symphony) and Urban Birds (PRS New Music Biennial).

Dr Sierra gained international recognition when her first orchestral work Aquilo was awarded the Takemitsu Prize in 2001. Subsequent awards have included the Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Classical Recording Foundation Composer of the Year, a PRS New Music Biennial commission, a Tanglewood Paul Jacobs Award commission, and fellowships from the Aspen Music Festival, Britten-Pears School in Aldeburgh, and the MacDowell Colony. She has had the honour of Composer Portrait concerts at: the Crush Room, Royal Opera House (London); the Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival, (Vermont); and Columbia University’s Miller Theatre (New York).

Dr Sierra’s music is the subject of a series of recordings by Bridge Records. Arlene Sierra, Vol. 1 (2011), 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 recently-released Game of Attrition: Arlene Sierra, Vol. 2 (2014) includes world-premiere recordings of recent orchestral works performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, conducted by Jac Van Steen. It has been described by The Guardian as ‘remarkably sure-footed … quirky and individual’, as well as ‘startlingly fresh and assured’.

Dr Sierra’s catalogue ranges from song cycles (such as Streets and Rivers and Neruda Settings)to operas (such as Faustine and Cuatro Corridos). Her chamber works include: a piano album, Birds and Insects;piano trios, Truel and Butterflies Remember a Mountain;a string quartet, Insects in Amber; ensemble works entitled Ballistae, Cicada Shell and Colmena; and a series of new scores to Maya Derenavant grade films from the 1940s. Urban Birds, for three pianos with percussion and sampled birdsong, has been featured by BBC News and has touring performances scheduled at venues including London’s South Bank Centre and the Commonwealth Games to be held in Glasgow in 2014.

Dr Sierra has given lectures and master classes at the invitation of universities, conservatories and music festivals including: Bowdoin International Music Festival, Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival and Eastman School of Music in the US; Cheltenham Composer Academy, Cambridge University, and King’s College London in the UK; and Yonsei University, Ewha University and Sangmyung University in South Korea.

Born in Miami to a family of New Yorkers, Dr Sierra is a graduate of Oberlin College-Conservatory, Yale School of Music and the University of Michigan. Her principal teachers were Martin Bresnick, Michael Daugherty and Jacob Druckman .She also 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.

Dr Sierra is Senior Lecturer, Director of the MMus in Composition and Director of Postgraduate Taught Programmes at Cardiff University School of Music. She teaches composition at both an undergraduate (final year) and a postgraduate level, as well as orchestration for the MMus. She also directs the School's programme of Composition workshops and seminars.

For further details of compositions and performances, please visit www.arlenesierra.com

Publications

Portrait Recordings Released by Bridge Records

Game of Attrition: Arlene Sierra, Vol. 2 including orchestral works Moler, Art of War, Game of Attrition and Aquilo, BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Huw Watkins, piano, Jac van Steen, conductor. BRIDGE 9414 

Arlene Sierra, Vol. 1 including chamber works Cicada Shell, Birds and Insects Book 1, Two Neruda Odes, Surrounded Ground, Colmena and Ballistae, International Contemporary Ensemble, Jayce Ogren, conductor, Vassily Primakov, piano, Daedalus Quartet, Susan Narucki, soprano, Stephen Gosling, piano, Charles Neidich, clarinet. BRIDGE 9343 

Selected Compositions  (All works published by Cecilian Music, ASCAP)

** World Premiere

Butterflies Remember a Mountain
for piano trio (12’) (2013); **Nicola Benedetti, violin, Leonard Elschenbroich, cello, Alexei Grynyuk, piano, Die Glocke, Bremen, Germany, 13 November 2013

Avian Mirrors
(11’) (2013); **Anthony Marwood, violin, Richard Lester, cello
Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival, East Sussex, England, 23 June 2013

Cuatro Corridos
opera scena for soprano and ensemble (12’) (2013);**Susan Narucki, soprano, Steven Schick, percussion, Aleck Karis, piano, Pablo Gomez, guitar, Conrad Prebys Music Center, UC San Diego, 8 May 2013

Moler
for Symphony Orchestra (8’) (2012);**Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot, cond., Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA, 26 October 2012

Meditation on Violence
score for ensemble to accompany the Maya Deren film (12’) (2012), **Lontano, Odaline de la Martinez, cond., The Warehouse, London, UK, 22 October 2012

Faustine
(Scenes 1 to 4) for five voices and orchestra (23') (2011); **New York City Opera VOX, Skirball Auditorium, NY, 14 May 2011 

Insects in Amber for string quartet (15') (2011); **Carducci Quartet, Stanford Lively Arts Series, CA, 3 April 2011

Cricket-Viol
for viola and voice (4') (2010)**Wendy Richman, Bushwick Starr, Brooklyn, NY, 24 January 2011

Art of War
concerto for piano and orchestra (21') (2010); **BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Huw Watkins (piano), Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor, Vale of Glamorgan Festival, BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff, 9 September 2010

Game of Attrition
for chamber orchestra (13') (2009); **New York Philharmonic, conducted by Magnus Lindberg, Symphony Space, NYC, 17 December 2009; Metropolitan Museum of Art, NYC, 19 December 2009

Colmena
for fourteen players (8') (2008); **International Contemporary Ensemble, conducted by Jayce Ogren, Miller Theatre, New York NY, 13 March 2009

Hearing Things
for soprano and piano (8') (2008); **Claire Booth and Andrew Matthews-Owen, Louise Blouin Institute, London, 4 June 2009

Le Chai au Quai
for bass clarinet and cello (3') (2008); **London Contemporary Music Group, Oxford, 5 November 2008

Surrounded Ground
(14') (2008); **Chroma Ensemble, Park Lane Chapel, Norwich, 8 June 2008

Streets and Rivers
for baritone and piano (14') (2007); **Jeremy Huw Williams and Nigel Foster, ROH, Covent Garden, 3 December 2007; Cardiff University, 22 April 2008; Bristol University, 23 April 2008

Birds and Insects, Book 1
 for piano solo (15') (2007): Scarab, **Thorsten Kuhn, New York, 23 November 2003; 
Cicada Sketch
, **Thorsten Kuhn, Vienna, 17 September 2004; 
Titmouse, **Clive Williamson, Guildford International Festival, 15 March 2005; Cornish Bantam, **Daniel Becker, Cardiff, 29 November 2005

Cicada Shell
for chamber ensemble (16') (2006); **The New Music Players, BMIC Cutting Edge Series, London, 2 November 2006

The Art of Lightness for solo flute (8') (2006); **Rowland Sutherland, flute, Lontano Festival of American Music, The Warehouse, London, 6 October, 2010

Neruda Settings
for soprano and chamber ensemble (22') (2002-5); **first version by Rochelle Bard (soprano), TMC Fellows Ensemble, conducted by Stefan Asbury, Tanglewood, 24 July 2002

A Conflict of Opposites
for clarinet and piano (11')  (2004); **Robert Bailis and Daniel Becker, Cambridge, 15 May 2005; version for violin and piano: **Alexandra Wood, Huw Watkins, Cardiff University, 4 December 2007

Two Neruda Odes
for soprano, cello and piano (11') (2004); **Marie Vassiliou, Zoe Martlew and Huw Watkins, Cambridge, 13 June 2004

Truel
for piano trio (21') (2004); **Anita Cheng Dance, Danspace New York, 4 March 2004

Trombone Concerto for symphonic winds (14') (1994, rev. 2003); **RNCM Symphonic Winds, conducted by James Gourlay, Manchester, 26 March 2004

Birds and Insects: Scarab
 for piano solo (8') (2003); **Thorsten Kuhn, New York, 23 November 2003

Hand mit Ringen
for soprano and trio (violin, cimbalom, piano) (7') (2002); **Sarah Leonard (soprano), Psappha, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, 24 November 2002

Tiffany Windows
for twelve players (14') (2002); **Albany SO, conducted by David Miller, Troy NY, 9 March 2002

Alike Dissolving
for SATB, children's choir and string orchestra (14') (2001); **Aeolian Singers, Longdean Choir, Hertfordshire Classical Orchestra, conducted by Stephen Jones, St Albans, 10 November 2001

Four Choreographic Studies
for ten players (12') (2001); **TMC Fellows Ensemble & Dancers, Tanglewood, 27 July 2001

Aquilo
for orchestra (11') (2001); **Tokyo PO, conducted by Susanna Mälkki, Tokyo, 27 May 2001

Ballistae
for thirteen players (10') (2001); **London Sinfonietta, conducted by Pierre-André Valade, London, 21 April 2001

Mantegna Diptych
for orchestra (10') (2000); **Plymouth Orchestra, conducted by Philip Brunelle, Minneapolis, 14 May 2000

of Risk and Memory
(1997) for two pianos; **Karl Lutchmayer and David Alexander, The Warehouse, London, 5 March 2006


Research

Dr Sierra is currently working on two large series of conceptually-linked works for varying instrumentations ranging from solo to orchestra: The first is a Darwinian series exploring aspects of nature including birdsong and insect calls (works include Game of Attrition, Insects in Amber, Cricket-Viol and Birds and Insects, Book 1). The second is a series of works employing concepts and interactions inspired by game theory and military strategy (including works Art of War, Surrounded Ground, Truel and Cicada Shell). Sierra is also composing a series of new scores to Maya Deren’s avant garde films from the 1940’s, including Meditation on Violence, Ritual in Transfigured Time, and At Land.

Guest Lectures, Master Classes, Public Talks, and Interviews
BBC Radio Three, Bristol University, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Cambridge University, Cheltenham Composer Academy, Cheltenham Festival, Columbia University, Eastman School of Music, Ewha University, Seoul, Frankfurter Museums-Gesellschaft e. V., Freie Akademie der Künste, Hamburg, Institute of Musical Research, Kings College London, Kings Lynn Festival, Kingston University, Louise Blouin Institute, Opera America New Works Forum, National Portrait Gallery, London, New York City Opera VOX, Philharmonische Gesellschaft Bremen, Sangmyung University, Seoul, University of California at San Diego, Walker Art Gallery, Minneapolis, WNYC Radio, Yellow Barn Festival, Yonsei University, Seoul  

 

Interviews Available on Line

Pestova, Xenia. “Conversation with Arlene Sierra,” I Care If You Listen, June/July 2013.

Gardner, Alexandra. “Arlene Sierra: The Evolution of Process,” NewMusicBox, 1 May 2013.

De Caro, Alessandro. “Color and Rhythmic Dexterity: Interview with Arlene Sierra”, Nomos Alpha Sounds frontier, 15 April 2013.

Schulslaper, Robert. “Composer Arlene Sierra: Process, Strategy, Evolution,” Fanfare, November, 2013.

Sierra, Arlene. “Contact,” NewMusicBox, 16 December 2009.

Bruce, David. “Interview with Arlene Sierra,” CompositionToday, 24 November 2009.

 

Selected Performances and Lectures, since 2008
July 21-August 4, 2013: Composer Residency, Bowdoin International Music Festival, Maine
July 27: US Premiere of Meditation on Violence
July 30: Composition lecture and master class

July 13-21, 2013: Composer Residency at the Yellow Barn Chamber Music Festival, Vermont
July 13: World Premiere of Petite Grue
July 16: Arlene Sierra Portrait Concert
World Premiere of complete Birds and Insects Book 1
US Premieres of Art of Lightness, Le Chai au Quai, Two Etudes After Mantegna
Performance of Cricket-Viol
July 18: Performance of Insects in Amber
July 20: US Premiere of Avian Mirrors, Performance of Harrow-Lines

July 5, 2013: Cheltenham Composer Academy Workshop
Arlene Sierra leads a workshop with the Dr K Sextet, colleague composer Christopher Fox, and Academy student composers

June 23, 2013: Avian Mirrors **
Anthony Marwood, violin, Richard Lester, cello
Peasmarsh Chamber Music Festival, East Sussex, England

June 22, 2013: Moler BBC Radio 3 Broadcast
BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Grand Llewellyn, conductor, Radio 3 "Hear and Now" with Ivan Hewitt

May 19, 2013: "Stages of Death" Opera and Ballet Symposium, Arlene Sierra presents her lecture "Gender Identity and Urban Decay: Text and Persona in my recent Operas" at Cardiff University School of Music

May 8, 10, 11, 2013: Cuatro Corridos **
Susan Narucki, soprano, Steven Schick, percussion,
Aleck Karis, piano, Pablo Gomez, guitar, Conrad Prebys Music Center, UC San Diego

March 24-30, 2013: Cuatro Corridos Artist Residency

March 30, 2013: Cuatro Corridos Concert and Discussion
With Susan Narucki, Jorge Volpi and collaborating composers, Yellow Barn Next Stage, Putney, Vermont

March 11, 2013: Brunel CCMP presents Arlene Sierra at the Institute for Musical Research, Arlene Sierra presents her lecture "Process, Strategy, Evolution" at Chancellor's Hall, Senate House, London

February 26, 2013: Visit to Bangor University, Composition Lecture "Process, Strategy, Evolution", followed by a Masterclass with Postgraduate Composition students

February 5, 2013: Two Neruda Odes, Fidelio Trio with soprano Patricia Rozario, Cardiff University Chamber Series, Cardiff UK

January 10, 2013: Selections from Birds and Insects, Book 1, Sally Wigan, piano, Park Lane Group New Year Series, Purcell Room, South Bank Centre, London

January 9-10, 2013: Recording Sessions for Arlene Sierra Vol. 2 with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Jac Van Steen, cond. BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff, UK

November 23, 2012: Moler (European Premiere), BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Grant Llewellyn, cond., BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff, UK

October 26, 2012: Moler **, Seattle Symphony, Ludovic Morlot, cond., Benaroya Hall, Seattle, WA


October 22, 2012: Meditation on Violence **, New work for ensemble to accompany the Maya Deren film, Lontano, Odaline de la Martinez, cond., The Warehouse, London, UK

September 29, 2012: Insects in Amber, Carducci Quartet, Cavatina Family Concerts, Institut Francais Royaume-Uni, London

September 28, 2012: Insects in Amber, Carducci Quartet, Bromsgrove Concerts at Artrix, England

August 18, 2012: Art of Lightness, Lecture Recital with Lisa Nelsen , British Flute Society Eighth International Convention, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester

April 13, 2012: Colmena, Oberlin Contemporary Ensemble, Timothy Weiss, cond, Warner Concert Hall, Oberlin, OH

April 12 – 13, 2012: Arlene Sierra Composition Master Class
Ewha Women’s University, Seoul, South Korea

April 4 – 18, 2012: Arlene Sierra Composition Master Class
Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea

March 6, 2012: Truel (complete), World Premiere of Clarinet Version, New Music Players
University Concert Hall, Cardiff

January 31, 2012: Arlene Sierra Public Lecture “Texts and Personas
Victoria Rooms, Bristol University, Bristol

December 6, 2011: Insects in Amber (Welsh premiere)
Carducci Quartet, University Concert Hall, Cardiff

November 21, 2011: of Risk and Memory
Quattro Mani - Alice Rybak and Susan Grace
The Tenth Annual Classical Recording Foundation Award Ceremony, Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall, NY, NY

November 17, 2011: Lecture-Recital featuring Arlene Sierra
Including US Premieres of song cycles
Hearing Things - Yunjin Kim, soprano, Emi Okumura, piano
Streets and Rivers - Thomas Lehman, baritone, Lisa Gonella, piano
Eastman School of Music, Rochester, NY

November 11, 2011: Scenes from Faustine
OPERA America New Works Forum, Center for Contemporary Opera
Conductor: Michael Fenelly, Musical Preparation: Michael Pilafian; Devil: Marshall Coid, Muriel: Kathryn Allen, Ella: Kala Maxym, Anna: Megan Weston, Harry: Dominic Inferrera
Lang Recital Hall, Hunter College, New York, NY

November 8, 2011: Colmena
New Juilliard Ensemble, Joel Sachs, conductor
Alice Tully Hall, NY, NY

July 21, 2011: Truel 1
The Peabody Trio, Yellow Barn Music Festival, Putney, VT

July 8, 2011: Insects in Amber
Carducci Quartet, UK premiere at the Cheltenham International Music Festival

May 14, 2011: Scenes from opera-in-progress Faustine **
New York City Opera VOX Contemporary Opera Showcase
Conductor: Ryan McAdams, Musical Preparation: Lynn Baker
Devil: Jason Abrams, Muriel: Jennifer Roderer, Ella: Deanna Breiwick, Anna: Amanda Pabyan, Harry: Ian Greenlaw

April 8, 2011: Insects in Amber
Carducci Quartet, East Coast premiere at the Cinema Arts Center, Huntingdon, NY

April 3, 2011: Insects in Amber **
Carducci Quartet, Stanford Lively Arts, Dinkelspiel Auditorium, Stanford, CA

March 27, 2011: Art of Lightness
Lisa Nelsen, flute, University of Ottawa, Freiman Hall, Canada

March 25, 2011: Canadian premiere of Art of Lightness
Lisa Nelsen, flute, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario

March 15, 2011: Cricket-Viol
Wendy Richman, viola and voice, Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Oberlin, OH

February 27, 2011: Truel 1
The Fidelio Trio, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champagne

January 24, 2011: Cricket-Viol **
Wendy Richman, viola and voice, Bushwick Starr, Brooklyn, NY

January 16, 2011: Continental premiere of Art of Lightness
Eric Lamb, flute , Spiegelsaal in Clärchens Ballhaus, Berlin, Germany

October 21, 2010: of Risk and Memory American premiere
Shirley Yoo and Stephen Buck, pianos, LotUS League of the Unsound Sound Premiere Concert, Mercyhurst College, Erie, PA

October 5th and 6th, 2010: Lontano Festival of American Music
Art of Lightness**, Rowland Sutherland, flute
Counting-Out Rhyme, Lontano, Odaline de la Martinez, artistic director, The Warehouse, London

October 2, 2010: World Premiere Broadcast of Piano Concerto Art of War
BBC Radio Three's contemporary music program Hear and Now, performed by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Huw Watkins, piano, Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor

September 9, 2010: Piano Concerto Art of War**
BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Huw Watkins, piano, Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor, Vale of Glamorgan Festival, BBC Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff

July 17, 2010: American premiere of Two Neruda Odes
Susan Narucki, soprano, Kacy Clopton, cello, Michael Bukhman, piano, The Big Barn, Yellow Barn Music Festival, Putney, Vermont

June 2, 2010: Continental premiere of Hearing Things, Frauke Aulbert, soprano, Thorsten Kuhn, piano
U.S. Consulate General, Hamburg, Germany

March 9, 2010: Welsh premiere of Counting-Out Rhyme,
Lontano, Odaline de la Martinez, artistic director, University Concert Hall, Cardiff

February 8, 2010: Boston premiere of Cicada Shell, Collage New Music, David Hoose, conductor, Edward M. Pickman
Concert Hall, Longy School of Music, Cambridge, MA

February 6, 2010: UK premiere broadcast of Aquilo , BBC Radio Three's contemporary music program Hear and Now, in a performance by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Jac Van Steen, cond.

December 19, 2009: Game of Attrition, New York Philharmonic, Magnus Lindberg, conductor
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

December 17, 2009: Game of Attrition**, New York Philharmonic, Magnus Lindberg, conductor, CONTACT, the New York Philharmonic New Music Series, Symphony Space, New York

December 7, 2009: Hearing Things, Claire Booth, soprano, Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano
Cheltenham Contemporary Concerts, Town Hall, Cheltenham

December 1, 2009: Hearing Things, Claire Booth, soprano, Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano
University Concert Hall, Cardiff

November 27, 2009: Hearing Things, Claire Booth, soprano, Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano
University of Hull Concert Series

September 4, 2009: Truel I, Fidelio Trio
National Portrait Gallery, London

June 10, 2009: Hearing Things**, Claire Booth, soprano, Andrew Matthews-Owen, piano
Louise Blouin Institute, London

March 27, 2009: Tiffany Windows, Great Noise Ensemble, Armando Bayolo, cond
Catholic University Ward Hall, Washington DC

March 13, 2009: Miller Theatre Composer Portrait Series Concert
Colmena** (Miller Theatre Commission), Ballistae [U.S. Premiere], Surrounded Ground [U.S. Premiere], Neruda Settings ** (expanded version), Cicada Shell [U.S. Premiere]
International Contemporary Ensemble [ICE], Susan Narucki, soprano, Jayce Ogren, cond.

February 10, 2009: Surrounded Ground, Chroma
University Concert Hall, Cardiff

February 5, 2009: Public Lecture "Notes from Across the Pond"
Kings College, London

November 5, 2008: Le Chai au Quai **
London Contemporary Music Group, Oxford, England

June 8, 2008: Surrounded Ground (complete) **
The Chroma Ensemble, Park Lane Chapel, Norwich, England

May 3, 2008: Cicada Shell *broadcast*
Cicada Shell is broadcast on BBC Radio Three's contemporary music program Hear and Now, in a performance by the New Music Players.

April 23, 2008: Streets and Rivers, Jeremy Huw Williams, baritone, Nigel Foster, piano
Victoria Rooms, Bristol, England

April 22, 2008: Streets and Rivers, Jeremy Huw Williams, baritone, Nigel Foster, piano
University Concert Hall, Cardiff

April 12, 2008: Neruda Settings, Great Noise Ensemble, Kara Morgan, soprano, Armando Bayolo, cond.
Unitarian Universalist Church, Silver Spring, MD

April 6, 2008: Selections from Birds and Insects, Karis Stretton, piano
Acton Hill Church, London

March 3, 2008: IMR Composition Day
Royal Academy of Music, London
Professor Simon Bainbridge (RAM), Dr Arlene Sierra (Cardiff University), Professor Robert Saxton (Oxford University), and Professor Martin Butler (Sussex University)

January 24, 2008: Aquilo [European Premiere], BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Jac Van Steen, cond.
St David’s Hall, Cardiff

Current PhD Candidates:
John Cooney, Julia Howell, Gareth Hughes, Richard McReynolds, Daniel Ross

Successful PhD Candidates:
Mauricio Beltran Miranda, Steven Berryman, Daniel Bickerton, Max Charles Davies, Christian Morris, Jack White

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