Nicolls, Sarah


Sarah Nicolls is a UK-based experimental pianist, at the forefront of innovations in piano performance.  She works with interactive technologies, such as body sensors and motion capture to augment the acoustic piano, bringing it into the realm of electronic music with visceral live performances.  Sarah also invented the ‘Inside-out Piano’, a sculptural feast of an instrument designed to be played inside and out.  She has recorded her own music on it and has been funded through the Athena Swan scheme to have the second prototype built by Pierre Malbos.  

In the rest of her concert career, Sarah is a frequent soloist with the London Sinfonietta, giving world premieres such as Larry Goves’ piano concerto Things that are blue... and Richard Barrett’s Mesoptamia.  She is regularly broadcast on BBC Radio 3 and features on several CDs.

Sarah is a Senior Lecturer at Brunel University and has received funding from the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the Brunel Research Initiative and Enterprise Fund (BRIEF), the Athena Swan award and Arts Council England.  She writes about live electronics and compositional collaborations and has been published in the Leonardo Music Journal (LMJ20).  Artistic Director of the BEAM Festival, Sarah was also the Music Chair for NIME 2014, London.

Pestova, Xenia


Xenia Pestova is a concert pianist with an unusual and colourful profile. As a dedicated promoter of music by living composers, she has commissioned, premiered, recorded and broadcast numerous new works, and is a frequent collaborator on the creation of interdisciplinary projects with new technologies. She is also currently the Head of Performance at the Bangor University School of Music in North Wales.

Xenia has appeared at international festivals including Archipel (Geneva), Christchurch Arts Festival (New Zealand), Musica (Strasbourg), MusiMars (Montreal), Ottawa International Chamber Music Festival, Rainy Days (Luxembourg), Royaumont (France), Sonorities Festival of Contemporary Music (Belfast) and Spark Festival of Electronic Music and Arts (Minneapolis). As a concerto and ensemble soloist, she has performed with ECM+ (Montreal), Stroma (New Zealand), United Instruments of Lucilin (Luxembourg) and the Luxembourg Philharmonic Orchestra amongst others. She has a duo with Amsterdam-based pianist Pascal Meyer, widely praised in the international press for their recent recording of Stockhausen's "Mantra" for the Naxos label, which won a Diapason d'Or award (France).

Xenia was encouraged to learn piano, composition and improvisation from an early age in Russia. Her subsequent studies in piano performance took place with Judith Clark (Victoria University Wellington, New Zealand), Philip Mead and Ian Pace (London), Hakon Austbo (Amsterdam), Yvonne Loriod-Messiaen (Paris), Louise Bessette and Sara Laimon (Montreal). She holds diplomas from institutions around the world, including a Doctor of Music degree from McGill University in Canada. Her awards include the unanimous First Prize at the Xavier Montsalvatge International Piano Competition in Girona, Spain, and prizes at the Messiaen International Piano Competition in Paris and the KeriKeri Piano Competition in New Zealand, as well as prizes and project support grants from organisations such as the New Zealand Arts Council and Canada Council for the Arts.

In addition to her love for the piano, she enjoys performing on other keyboard instruments and interfaces, including her growing collection of toy pianos. She is a Schoenhut Toy Piano Concert Artist.

Image Credit: 
Nick Hyatt

Supové, Kathleen


"What Ms. Supové is really exploding is the piano recital as we have known it, a mission more radical and arguably more needed." Anthony Tommasini, NY Times

"This was classical music played like the best rock'n'roll. It was passionate, earnest, loud and more complex than the gatekeepers of high culture would like to think. Brava." Ben Sisario, NY Press Kathleen Supové is one of America's most acclaimed and versatile contemporary music pianists, known for continually redefining what it means to be a pianist/keyboardist/performance artist in today's world. She annually presents a series of solo concerts entitled The Exploding Piano, in which she has performed and premiered works by a list of established and emerging composers that's a Who's Who of contemporary music for piano. The Exploding Piano is a multimedia experience using electronics, theatrical elements, vocal rants, performance art, staging, and collaboration with artists from other disciplines. She has received commissioning and production grants from Meet The Composer, Mary Flagler Cary Charitable Trust, Greenwall Foundation, and American Composers Forum, among others.

Kathleen has appeared with The Lincoln Center Festival, The Philip Glass Ensemble, Bang On a Can Marathon, Music at the Anthology, The Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company, Composers' Collaborative, Inc., and at many other venues, ranging from concert halls to theatrical spaces to clubs. Her most recent CD is INFUSION, released on the International Classics label, which features music for solo piano and electronics by Randall Woolf, Carolyn Yarnell, Marti Epstein, and Elaine Kaplinsky. Other recordings can be found on the Tzadik, CRI, Innova, New World, Neuma, Bridge, Centaur, OO, and XI labels.

Besides being a soloist, Kathy is a member of the art-rock band Dr. Nerve. She also curates a free music + discussion series for The Flea Theater called Music With A View. Visit and for more information.

Image Credit: 
Robin Holland

Fernandez, Jose Miguel

Jose Miguel
Fernández’ works have been performed in various countries and contemporary music festivals in Europe, the Americas and Asia at CNSMD of Lyon, Journées Grame, Biennale Musique en Scène of Lyon, Espace de Projection at l’Ircam, Paris, Festival Archipel of Geneva, Wasserspeicher Berlin, University of Lanus Buenos Aires, Festival de Musica Chilena Santiago, Fabbrica Europa Florence, EMS Shanghai, Imatronic ZKM at Karlsruhe... by ensembles like Ensemble Atelier XX, Ensemble Orchestral Contemporain, Ensemble Unitedberlin, Ensemble Vortex, trio de Bubar... And collaborates with soloists like Claude Delangle, Thirry Miroglio, Roméo Monteiro, Nicolas Crosse, Michel Michalakakos and others.
  • Total duration: 14'24
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Xenia Pestova, piano & percussion

Kathleen Supové, disklavier

Sarah Nicolls, piano

Jose Miguel Fernandez, electronics


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.

'I am delighted to be selected for the New Music Biennial to compose 'Urban Birds', a piece that juxtaposes natural and electronic sources in an extended pianistic sound world showcasing three formidable soloists. The work will engage musically with one of the central preoccupations of our time: Our relationship with the natural world.' Arlene Sierra

'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


For more information about all 20 pieces of the New Music Biennial, visit our page:



Urban Birds was commissioned by INTER/actions.


'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 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... Sierra’s work was engaging, and formed an intriguing conclusion to a festival that amply demonstrated how alive, imaginative and downright entertaining electroacoustic music can be.’ Tempo Magazine


Produced with the support of partners and funders:

New Music Biennial Partners


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