Artist Catalog

Arlene Sierra

Born: June 1 1970

Official Homepage

  • composer

Arlene Sierra

Arlene Sierra (born June 1, 1970, in Miami) is an American composer of contemporary classical music, working in London, United Kingdom. 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 principal teachers were Martin Bresnick, Michael Daugherty and Jacob Druckman. A composition fellow at the Britten-Pears School (Aldeburgh Festival) in 2000 and Tanglewood in 2001, teachers included Louis Andriessen, Oliver Knussen, Magnus Lindberg, and Colin Matthews. She also worked with Judith Weir at the Dartington International Summer School in 1999, Paul Heinz Dittrich in Berlin in 1997-8, and Betsy Jolas and Dominique Troncin at The American Conservatory of Fontainebleau Schools in 1993.

Her music has been commissioned by organizations including the Seattle Symphony, Tanglewood Music Festival, the New York Philharmonic, the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, 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; in 2007 she received a Charles Ives Fellowship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters 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 and she was named Composer of the Year by the Classical Recording Foundation. 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. Her work Moler from the same disc was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award in 2014.

Sierra was a Composition Tutor at Cambridge University in 2003-4 before joining Cardiff University School of Music as Lecturer in Composition in 2004. She was promoted to Senior Lecturer in 2010 and to Reader (academic rank) in Composition 2016. Sierra is married to British composer Kenneth Hesketh.

Her music is published exclusively by Cecilian Music (ASCAP).