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02 Dec 2019

ARLENE SIERRA: Moler

by Michael Clive

Arlene Sierra is a widely admired American composer based in the United Kingdom.

Born in Miami to a family of New Yorkers, Arlene Sierra holds degrees from Oberlin College-Conservatory, Yale School of Music, and the University of Michigan. Her principal teachers were Martin Bresnick, Michael Daugherty and Jacob Druckman; she also worked with Betsy Jolas and Dominique Troncin at Fontainebleau, and Paul-Heinz Dittrich in Berlin. At Tanglewood, Aldeburgh, and Dartington she studied with Louis Andriessen, Magnus Lindberg, Colin Matthews, and Judith Weir. Sierra is Professor of Composition and Deputy Head of the School of Music at Cardiff University.

Moler, commissioned by the Seattle Symphony, was nominated for a Latin Grammy Award in 2014. The title — which translates into English as the verb to grind, mill, or pound — suggests both the process of abrasion in the natural world and the human actions in the kitchen or workplace. With that as a starting point, the deeper meaning of the title is up to you.