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Urban Birds

Arlene SierraDr Arlene Sierra’s latest work - Urban Birds for Three Pianos with percussion and sampled birdsong -will be performed at the Cardiff University Concert Hall by three piano virtuosi on Tuesday 18 March 2014.

Dr Sierra said: “Urban Birds is a piece that juxtaposes natural and electronic sources in an extended pianistic sound world showcasing three formidable soloists. It combines harmony, rhythmic drives and sounds from nature to engage musically with one of the central preoccupations of our time: Our relationship with the natural world.”

Recordings of birds that range throughout Wales – the Blackcap, the Skylark, and the Cuckoo – form part of the musical texture, with samples functioning as integral musical elements.

The Cardiff concert brings together acclaimed keyboard soloists Clare Hammond, Xenia Pestova, and Kathleen Supove who will play material that imitates and answers the recorded birdsong. They also have specific roles: one soloist doubles on percussion, one plays the strings inside the piano, and there is an intricate part for the Yamaha Disklavier Piano played by a soloist who is a specialist on that instrument.

Urban Birds was commissioned by the INTER/actions Festival of Interactive Electronic Music, which is part of Bangor University's School of Music in Gwynedd. Dr Sierra received funding support from the PRS for Music Foundation as part of the UK-wide New Music Biennial – supporting and promoting commissions by some of the UK’s most exciting composers to be performed across the country and at two special weekend events in 2014 at London’s Southbank Centre and Glasgow UNESCO City of Music to coincide with the Commonwealth Games.

Dr Sierra’s latest CD of orchestral works, the second in a series from Bridge Records devoted to her music, was released internationally in February 2014. Game of Attrition: Arlene Sierra, Vol.2 features performances by BBC National Orchestra of Wales, led by Principal Guest Conductor, Jac Van Steen. The disc has been described by The Guardian as “remarkably sure-footed… quirky and individual” and “startlingly fresh and assured.”