In recent years, Roberto Sierra's colorful and rhythmic music has attracted a growing audience both in North America and Europe. Acclaimed as one of Latin America's most active contemporary composers, Sierra came to prominence in 1987 when his first major orchestral composition, Júbilo, premiered at Carnegie Hall with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Since then, his works have been performed by the orchestras of San Francisco, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Houston, Dallas, Detroit, San Antonio, and Phoenix, by the American Composers Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kronos Quartet, Continuum, England's BBC Symphony, and at Wolf Trap, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Festival Casals, France's Festival de Lille, the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, and Germany's Neue Musik Bonn.
Born in Puerto Rico, Sierra studied at the Conservatory of Music and the University of Puerto Rico. Upon graduation, he travelled to Europe to further his training, first at the Royal College of Music and the University of London, and later at the Institute for Sonology in Utrecht. Between 1979 and 1982, he completed advanced work in composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg under the renowned György Ligeti. In 1982, Sierra returned to Puerto Rico to occupy administrative posts as a Director of the Cultural Activities Department at the University of Puerto Rico and as Chancellor of the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music. Throughout this period, he was vigorously engaged as a composer on the international scene. In 1989, Roberto Sierra became Composer-in-Residence of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra -- a position he held for three years. In the autumn of 1992, Sierra joined the composition faculty at Cornell University, assuming a position made available by the retirement of
Sierra's recent orchestral works can be heard on the 1994 Koss Classics CD featuring the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and Chorus under the direction of Zdenek Macal. His music has also been recorded by New World Records, Newport Classics, New Albion, ADDA, VRAS Productions, and the Musical Heritage Society.
Recent commissions include Concierto Caribe, commissioned by flutist Carol Wincenc and premiered with the Rockford Symphony Orchestra (IL), and Imágenes, premiered by violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, guitarist Manuel Barrueco, and the Saarländischer Rundfunk, Germany. We've Got Rhythm, an orchestral piece for children's concerts, has been programmed by the Chicago, Pittsburgh, St. Louis, Milwaukee, and Fox Valley (WI) Symphonies. In December 1994, violinist Andrés Cárdenes and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under the direction of James DePriest premiered Evocaciones -- a violin concerto commissioned by a consortium including the Pittsburgh and West Virginia Symphony Orchestras and the Utah Symphony.
Sierra was commissioned to write a 4-minute orchestral work entitled Saludo which was premiered at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, DC. Sierra was also commissioned by the Minnesota Orchestra and the Kansas City and Richmond Symphonies to write an overture for full orchestra. The Minnesota Orchestra premiered the piece, entitled Ritmo, during its 1995-96 season.