On December 8, the Montclair State University (MSU) Symphony Orchestra gives the first performance of Sierra’s El Baile at the John J. Cali School of Music, conducted by Kenneth Lam. Commissioned by MSU, the nine-minute orchestral work features the composer’s signature concert music-settings of Latin dance styles and rhythms. Sierra shares some insight into his new work. “A motive that spells the last name of J.S. Bach (b flat, a, c and b natural—letter h in German) appears in the foggy introduction that leads to dance music infused with Latin rhythms—specifically rhythmic structures evocative of the Puerto Rican bomba, an ancient dance of African roots. While the surface of the music varies and changes, the four notes heard at the beginning of the work (BACH) are always present in its original form and in transpositions or inversions, thus providing structural and aural unity.”
Sierra’s second premiere takes place on December 10, when Judith Clurman leads Essential Voices USA in the first performance of Clurman’s new adaptation of the composer’s Gloria. Excerpted from the Sierra’s large-scale choral work Missa Latina, the Gloria will be premiered as part of the “The Composer Speaks” series at The DiMenna Center in New York. “Roberto Sierra is an important musical voice,” Clurman notes. “The Composer Speaks is a unique program. I’ll talk informally with the composer. Then, we will sing through the piece a couple of times and the audience is invited to ask questions as well.”
Clurman continues, “I have always enjoyed listening to his Missa Latina. This year, I approached Steve Culbertson (of Subito Music — his publisher) with the idea of adapting and combining [both] the “Gloria” and “Alleluia” into one unified choral piece that can be [skillfully sung by] high school and university ensembles, as well as community choruses. I enjoyed working on this edition and I firmly believe that this work will become a staple for mixed choruses at Holiday time.”
For more El Baile concert details, visit the Montclair State University Symphony Orchestra.
For more Gloria program information, go to Essential Voices USA.