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Gramophone magazine celebrates renowned composer Professor Arlene Sierra

16 February 2024

Image of Arlene Sierra

Arlene Sierra, Professor of Composition at the School of Music, has been profiled as Featured Composer in one of the world’s leading classical music magazines, Gramophone.

Veteran music critic Richard Whitehouse explores Professor Sierra's compositional career and highlights several key works, noting that Sierra has “come to prominence... through [her] building of a corpus of work whose intrinsic quality is as evident as its sheer consistency of purpose.”

The profile surveys Sierra’s work in all the main genres of classical music: chamber and vocal music, opera, music for film, and several orchestral works. Of the piano concerto Art of War premiered by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales with Huw Watkins, Whitehouse writes, “...the ground plan of capture and release, resourcefully portrayed across two movements of equal length and weight, offers definite renewal... of the concerto as a genre of meaningful virtuosity.” Her setting of poetry by Pablo Neruda in Two Neruda Odes is described as “immediate and affecting”, while her scores to films by Maya Deren “unerringly convey the balletic grace and seductive danger of the cinematic imagery while functioning effectively as stand-alone works.”

Professor Sierra’s recent orchestral works, Nature Symphony performed by the BBC Philharmonic, and Bird Symphony performed by the Utah Symphony, are praised as “suspenseful” and “scintillating.”  Kiskadee, Sierra’s latest premiere with the Detroit Symphony, is described as a study in “sheer avian effervescence.”  The livestream performance, which took place in Detroit in October 2023, can now be viewed online.

Professor Sierra’s music appears on four solo albums released by Bridge Records and NMC Recordings with two new releases on the way, a new piano disc of works based on bird song and an orchestral disc featuring her latest symphonic works. Recent recognition for her work includes a Latin GRAMMY nomination and a Leverhulme Research Fellowship.

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