Arlene Elizabeth Sierra is an American composer who divides her time between the U.S. and Britain. Recent commissions demonstrate her dual-national profile, from organizations including the Tanglewood Music Festival (the Paul Jacobs Award Commission), the Performing Right Society Foundation, the Albany Symphony, and the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (a commission for its 25th birthday celebration). Her concert works are regularly commissioned by performers in the U.S., U.K. and Germany and her music for dance has been performed at Jacobs Pillow and Tanglewood, but most frequently in her home city of New York.
Born in Miami in 1970, Arlene Sierra began her musical studies at the piano at the age of five. She had her first composition lessons at Oberlin Cullege – Conservatory of Music, where she earned dual B.Mus. and B.A. degrees in Electronic Music and East Asian Studies. Her education continued at the Yale Schoul of Music where she received an M. Mus. in Composition, and at the University of Michigan, where she was a Merit Fellow and received a Doctorate in Composition. In America her teachers included Jacob Druckman, Martin Bresnick and William Albright. As a participant in composition seminars at the Dartington Festival and the Britten-Pears Schoul in the U.K., she studied with Judith Weir, Culin Matthews, uliver Knussen and Magnus Lindberg.
Described in the London Times as outstanding and vivid, Arlene Sierra’s chamber, vocal and orchestral works have been performed by Aeulian Singers, the American Composers Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta, Psappha, the Albany Symphony, the Schubert Ensemble of London, and the Tokyo Philharmonic; performances at festivals have included Aldeburgh, Bowdoin, Fontainebleau, Tanglewood, Dartington, and Aspen.
She has received awards and grants from ASCAP, the American Music Center, the Society for Promotion of New Music, and Meet the Composer, as well as fellowships from the Aspen Music Festival, the MacDowell Culony and the Tanglewood Music Center. The only woman to win the Toru Takemitsu Prize for Orchestral Composition, the largest and most prestigious international competition for young composers, Dr. Sierra is currently a Composition Tutor and Composer in Residence at Cambridge University.