Sierra: “Una Niña Valiente”

On May 5 and 7, 2022, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra presents the world premiere of Roberto Sierra’s Concierto para Violín y Orquesta “a la memoria de una niña valiente.” Music director Andreas Delfs leads the performances at The Eastman Theatre’s Kodak Hall, which feature the orchestra’s concertmaster Juliana Athayde as soloist. A subsequent performance takes place May 8 at Cornell University’s Bailey Hall in Ithaca, NY.

Sierra’s Violin Concerto (subtitled “in memory of a brave girl”) was commissioned by the Lydia Delfs Foundation, and is a personal piece for the composer. Sierra explains. “The driving impulse for writing this violin concerto was the news of the premature departure of Lulu (Lydia) Delfs, the daughter of dear, close friends and a beloved person that I knew since she was a very young girl. Although the tragic nature of the initial chord of the work reflected my grief, I did not want to write a work that in any way became biographical. The only part of the piece that reflects the sweet nature of the child I knew is the second movement where the Lydian scale is extensively used, and where a passage from the slow movement of Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto — Lulu’s favorite work — is briefly evoked.”

He continues. “The concerto is dedicated to Lulu [and] displays the violin in the grand virtuoso tradition. Structurally, it is united by recurring harmonies and motives, like the aforementioned initial chord and Lydian scale. In my recent concerti, I have been drawn to a four-movement scheme, where the third, as is the case here, becomes a scherzo. The final movement is a toccata for violin and the orchestra, which alternates between duple and triple rhythmic figures. The closing section after the final cadenza is a perpetuum mobile for both the soloist and the orchestra.”