Grammy-nominated composer from Gloucester receives MBE

Ella Spira

A Grammy-nominated composer hailing from Gloucester has been awarded an MBE in the 2021 New Year’s Honours List.

Ella Spira, now based in London, established theatre company Sisters Grimm in 2009 with her co-founder, the ballerina Pietra Mello-Pittman. Both woman have received the honour for services to export.

Ella’s British parents are fine artists, her father was Senior Lecturer at the University of Arts in Cheltenham and her grandfather Emile Spira, was a jewish refugee from Poland, a pianist and composer.

At 16 Ella started writing music for short films. Her professional career within the entertainment industry began when alongside writing, she chose to leave school in favour of employment by the BBC at age 17.

As a composer she has worked for the BBC, BAFTA, the Royal Ballet, Arakan Creative and Universal Music with Steve Smart & Westfunk.

In 2014 Sisters Grimm premiered their first full-length musical dance production, “INALA”, meaning abundance of goodwill in Zulu, with Grammy award winning, South African legends, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, current and former dancers of the Royal Ballet & Rambert.

The following year, they premiered INALA at the Chekhov Festival in Moscow, receiving standing ovations. Sisters Grimm became a client of United Kingdom Trade and Industry and were proud to become part of Downing Street’s GREAT Campaign showcasing the best of the UK, representing Creativity is GREAT.

In a statement, Pietra De Mello-Pittman and Ella Spira, said “Being honoured with an MBE is a wonderful recognition of the role we play bringing talent together internationally. We feel such a passion and a drive for representing other cultures, and seeing our shows reach audiences all over the world.

“It is an honour to be recognised not only in contributing to the creative industry but also for services to international trade. As female founders from mixed heritage backgrounds, we have had to overcome challenges to not only create a business model around the arts, but to be recognised as internationalists.

“The impact that the arts can have on society should never be undervalued – they allow people to make sense of their emotions in a space they often don’t give themselves. In these dark and difficult times for live entertainment we mustn’t lose sight of how the arts have the ability to join people together.”