Arlene Sierra: Urban Birds [Live]

Arlene Sierra: Urban Birds [Live]

NMC Recordings
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This new piece brings together three international soloists in a tour de force for three pianos with electronics, sampled birdsong, and percussion, combining spectacle with refined classical keyboard artistry, and juxtaposing harmony and rhythmic drive with sounds from nature in a powerful and engaging way.

Urban Birds is in three movements:

1. Sylviid Babblers
This movement features the extended song of the Blackcap with answers from related species known collectively as Sylviid Babblers, as well as from the pianos and a single crotale.

2. Skylark Loops
A looped fragment of the Skylark's song is transcribed, manipulated, and repeated with percussive contributions from stopped piano strings and woodblock.

3. Cuculus-cornuta
Cuckoo calls dominate this movement, punctuated by the guiro, until rogue elements are introduced in the form of an extended passage for pre-programmed Disklavier and the call of a very different bird: the South American Horned Screamer.

'The INTER/actions Festival of Interactive Electronic Music is proud to present the world premiere of Arlene Sierra’s 'Urban Birds'. We are excited to bring together three acclaimed keyboard soloists Sarah Nicolls, Xenia Pestova and Kathleen Supové, combining acoustic piano, digital piano, electronics, percussion and sampled birdsong in an enticing mix.' INTER/actions


Xenia Pestova piano & percussion
Kathleen Supové disklavier
Sarah Nicolls piano
Jose Miguel Fernandez electronics



'Intriguing – she's [Sierra] a name to watch' BBC Music Magazine

‘Sierra’s was a showcase piece designed to exhibit the dynamic pianism of the virtuoso soloist. From crashing chords and driving rhythms to delicate tweets and a somewhat menacing, repeated cuckoo call, the ambience was both humorous and reflective of our relationship with nature... Sierra’s work was engaging, and formed an intriguing conclusion to a festival that amply demonstrated how alive, imaginative and downright entertaining electro-acoustic music can be’ Tempo Magazine


Produced with the support of partners and funders:


The performance of Urban Birds was recorded live by the BBC at the South Bank Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hall, London on 5 July 2014 and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 on 12 July 2014.

Catalogue number: NMC DL201401
Release Date: 21 July 2014