Who got that job?

January 21, 2005

Arlene Sierra
Lecturer in music
School of Music, Cardiff University

Job advertised in The Times Higher , April 23, 2004

Arlene Sierra has no illusions about why she got her job at Cardiff University.

"They made a very conscious decision to attract someone with an international reputation specifically with the research assessment exercise in mind," she said.

Dr Sierra was born in Miami. She moved to the UK nearly six years ago with her husband and fellow composer, Ken Hesketh.

"It was great to move to Europe together," Dr Sierra said. "Europe is more open, in general, to modern composers. The US is more commercial, and since 9/11 if the music is not sentimental or patriotic, no one wants to hear it."

Dr Sierra always hoped to get a university job while working freelance on commissions from ensembles and festivals, winning prizes and writing for new music groups and young players.

"The Cardiff job is a gift from heaven because I'm just teaching composition and that's very unusual. Sadly, composers are becoming an endangered species.

"I have a very interesting second-year class where 23 students all have to write some kind of piece all at the same time. Thank God that we're starting out now and not in five or six months' time.

"I also have to supervise third-year dissertations and try to talk them out of yet another essay on Pink Floyd."

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