Meet our PhD supervisors: Dr Arlene Sierra
BA Oberlin, BMus Oberlin, MMus Yale, DMus University of Michigan
An American composer based in the United Kingdom, Arlene Sierra is acclaimed for vivid, darkly energetic works that take their impetus from rich sources including military strategy, Darwinian evolution, and game theory.
Her music has been performed by the Tokyo Philharmonic, the London Sinfonietta, New York City Opera VOX, ICE, Psappha, the Albany Symphony, Lontano, Collage New Music, the New Juilliard Ensemble, the Schubert Ensemble and many others. Recent commissions include a piano concerto Art of War for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales, a Cheltenham Festival commission Insects in Amber for the Carducci Quartet, and a New York Philharmonic commission for chamber orchestra, Game of Attrition.
- Faustine – This operatic adaptation of Emma Tennant’s novella is currently in development with the Center for Contemporary Opera. Selections were showcased by the New York City Opera in 2011 and described by Musical America as “the most musically adventurous, tightly constructed and dramatically sound of the works-in-progress on offer.” Audio extracts are available on the New York City Opera website.
- Mediation on Violence – New work for ensemble to accompany the Maya Deren film. Commissioned by the Lontano Trust and supported by the PRS for Music Foundation’s “Women Make Music” initiative – a funding scheme raising the profile of female music creators.
- Arlene Sierra, Volume 2 – The second volume and first major orchestral disc from the Arlene Sierra series by Bridge Records, made possible with major funding by the New Music USA CAP Recording programme and the Classical Recording Foundation.
- Moler - New work commissioned by the Seattle Symphony. The piece will be conducted by Ludovic Morlot at Seattle’s Benaroya Hall on 26 October 2012.
What the critics say:
“...her work has its own character, in which historical and contemporary influences are fused into a highly flexible and distinctive style... packed with crisp, vivid detail that's not at all hand-me-down. Sierra likes bold, highly coloured gestures.” – The Guardian
“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 New York
“There can be no doubt that Sierra has an uncanny ability to realize and build her musical ideas toward shattering conclusions, oftentimes literally so. But be forewarned: this is definitely not music for the fainthearted. …[She] is fascinated with the martial arts and writes music that is as intense as it is complex. Sierra’s setting of Neruda’s allegorical poetry is truly masterly.” – Fanfare
“Sierra’s musical language encompasses both acerbic dissonance where the plot requires it and, elsewhere, supple melodies of considerable sweep. Particularly riveting were her duets for the devil -- here unctuously played and vividly sung by countertenor Jason Abrams -- and the leading role, sung with earthy resonance by mezzo-soprano Jennifer Roderer. ...the Vox reading suggested that Thurber and Sierra are well on the way toward crafting a memorable new opera.” – Musical America
Listen to tracks from Arlene Sierra's debut CD online:
Interested in pursuing postgraduate research at one of the largest and most diverse music schools in the UK? The School of Music is currently offering three competitive Studentships that cover tuition fees at the Home/EU rate. More information on our funding opportunities is available at: