UPDATE: The Allentown Symphony’s performances of Roberto Sierra’s Montuno were enthusiastically received by audiences and critics. Steve Siegel of The Morning Call noted, “Montuno was a slinky, seductive fusion of Spanish guitar and vocal music…[which] bloomed into a vibrant series of variations, each successively more energetic before coming to an exhilarating close…” Read the original article below.
“It’s always good to connect audiences with living composers and their repertoire.” On the eve the Allentown Symphony’s (PA) performances of Roberto Sierra’s Montuno, Music Director Diane Wittry shares some observations about the piece, rehearsals, and working with the composer. Performances take place on November 1 and 2 at Miller Symphony Hall. Montuno was commissioned by the Society of Musical Arts Orchestra (Maplewood, NJ) and premiered in October 2013 led by Subito’s own CEO Stephen Culbertson.
Wittry continues. “It’s been great having Roberto here working with the orchestra and rehearsals have been going very well. Montuno is a wonderful concert opener, and we’re happy to present the Pennsylvania premiere. Since we already commissioned him to write a short violin piece for the orchestra’s upcoming 2015 Young Musicians String Festival, programming Montuno early in the season is the perfect way to introduce Roberto’s music to our community. As an advocate of new music, I’m always supportive — whenever possible — of inviting a composer to attend concerts of his or her music. It’s a tangible way for audiences to get acquainted with a composer’s voice. Since Roberto’s been here, he’s participated in rehearsals, been interviewed on local radio station WDIY, and will interact with the audience at the concerts. It’s also a great way to help pave the path for future musicians and audiences of classical music.”
In addition, and as a complement the Allentown Symphony’s educational program, Wittry also asked Sierra to re-work Montuno into a shorter version for the orchestra’s young musicians. Piqueno Montuno — the shorter one-and-a-half minute piece –– is scored for strings and claves, and features short motifs from the original work. Wittry describes this approach as “a way to get good, new works in front of young musicians who will continue to learn in the classical tradition and grow into the fuller, large-scale standard and contemporary repertoire.” Piqueno Montuno receives its premiere in a pre-concert showcase.
Sierra returns to the Allentown Symphony in March 2015, for the premiere of a new showpiece commissioned by the 19th Annual Schadt String Competition for Violin.