Tickets: FREE
Drapers' Hall, Coventry Bayley Lane, Coventry, CV1 5RN
Fri 22 Apr 2022 @ 18.30
Book tickets

New Music Biennial: "Urban Birds" by Arlene Sierra

Fri 22 Apr 2022 @ 18.30
Drapers' Hall, Coventry
Bayley Lane, Coventry, CV1 5RN Show on map
Duration: 1 hour

*You will be transferred to an external ticketing website.

12+, under 16 accompanied by an adult 18+.

Arlene Sierra is a composer of critically-acclaimed orchestral and chamber music whose compositional beginnings were in the electroacoustic field. Urban Birds is a return to Sierra's electroacoustic roots, and brings together three international soloists who specialise in new music for piano plus electronics. Urban Birds combines harmony, rhythmic drive, and sounds from nature in a tapestry of environmental sound and virtuosic performance. The work engages musically with one of the central preoccupations of our time: Our relationship with the natural world.

The piece employs recordings of birds that range in the UK and specifically Wales: the Blackcap, the Skylark and the Cuckoo. The recordings are part of the musical texture, with samples functioning as integral musical elements in the evolving structure of the work. The three pianists play material that imitates and answers the birdsong, and they have specific roles as well: One soloist doubles on percussion, one plays the strings inside the piano, while another part interacts with a recorded Yamaha Disklavier piano.

Image credit Ian Phillips McLaren.

New Music Biennial is a PRS Foundation and Southbank Centre initiative. Presented in partnership with Coventry UK City of Culture, BBC Radio 3 and NMC Recordings with support from Arts Council of England, Arts Council of Northern Ireland and Paul Hamlyn Foundation.


Good to Know

  • All performances are seated
  • There will be bag searches at every venue
  • Bags should not be larger than a sheet of A4
  • No professional camera equipment
  • No flash photography
  • No late admittance
  • No food or alcohol brought into the premises  


Urban Birds is in three movements, performed attacca:

  1. Sylviid Babblers

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

  1. Skylark Loops

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

  1. 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.

Arlene Sierra’s work Urban Birds for three pianos, sampled birdsong and percussion was intriguing – she’s a name to watch
Helen Wallace, BBC Music Magazine
Sierra’s was a showcase piece designed to exhibit the dynamic pianism of the virtuoso soloists (Pestova, Hammond and Supové in trio, with José-Miguel Fernández at the mixing desk). 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
Stephanie Power, Tempo Magazine

Access information

Assistance dogs are welcome.

Disabled toilets available.

Induction Loop available.

The new entrance at Drapers’ Hall allows for ground floor access with a lift up to the first floor. Accessible toilets are situated on both levels. The bar has a DDA-level counter top to the right hand side.

There are three steps required for access to the two meeting rooms on the lower level. Otherwise, all rooms are accessible for wheelchair users.

There is an induction loop throughout the building.

The original entrance may still be used upon request, however there are steep steps up to the first floor.

On Bayley Lane there are many cobbled pathways and limited dropped kerbs. There are two Blue Badge parking bays on Bayley Lane.

The seating for events is non-allocated. For requests to reserve seating or for any queries regarding access or assistance please email [email protected]


Socially Distanced Seating:

There are socially distanced seats in each venue for New Music Biennial shows. A limited number of seats are available which are reserved for people who identify as being extremely clinically vulnerable. Wheelchair users may also be accommodated in these areas or within another part of the auditorium. If you would like to request seating in this area, please first book your tickets as normal and then let us know of your request through this form. We will then reply to you to confirm whether you can be accommodated.


A Captioning service is provided by 'My Clear Text' and will be accessible on your own device using a QR code to access the streaming website and read along.

Each piece of music will have lyrics or a simple description of what you can hear. The Q&A will then be live captioned. The second playing of the music will be accompanied again by lyrics and/or simple description.

BSL Interpretation:

BSL Interpretation is not being provided for this event as feedback from similar music events has shown that it is not appropriate for something so heavily reliant on hearing music with a very small proportion having any lyrics. Many of the artists involved have told us that it would not feel appropriate in these circumstances and may be misleading to suggest that a BSL user would find this provision makes the event more accessible.


Map and directions for Drapers' Hall, Coventry