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Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, JUDITH WEIR studied in London and at Cambridge. She has taught widely in Britain, Sweden, and the United States (Princeton and Harvard). From 1995 to 1999, she was Fairborn Composer in Association with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra. She was made a Commander of the British Empire in 1995.

Weir's career has unfolded partly as a series of intense involvements with specific cultures: a Chinese phase in the mid-1980s, a brief Spanish period in the late '80s, and at other times an extensive involvement in Balkan sources (Serbian Cabaret and other works). In still other works, she has invented imaginary folk musics (Airs from Another Planet, subtitled "traditional music from outer space"). She spent much of the 1980s working in opera and music theater (A Night at the Chinese Opera, The Vanishing Bridegroom, Blond Eckbert). More recently, Weir has written a Piano Trio commissioned by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center, incidental music for Peter Hall's production of King Lear at the Old Vic, Natural History for soprano Dawn Upshaw, We Are Shadows for the CBSO and its three choruses, the welcome arrival of rain for the Minnesota Orchestra, and Tiger under the Table for the London Sinfonietta.