Roberto Sierra: Full of Life

Roberto Sierra’s [music] is full of life.” Eric Valliere – the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s (BSO) Artistic Administrator – offers a glimpse of what’s to come in Boston on March 28, 2024, when the orchestra presents the US premiere of Sierra’s Sinfonía No. 6: Reflexión urbana. Domingo Hindoyan conducts (pictured below). The 22-minute work premiered in October 2021 at the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic (also led by Hindoyan), and is a co-commission between the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Boston Symphony, and the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra. Subsequent BSO performances take place on March 29 and 30.

Valliere continues. “After several recent performances of Roberto Sierra’s music by the BSO, it seemed a natural next step to join in the co-commissioning of his Sinfonía No. 6. His orchestral works balance meticulous craft with the boundless joy of music-making. We’re delighted to be presenting the American premiere later this month, and we’re all looking forward to having Roberto with us in Boston again.”

Sierra notes, “I want to make music that is communicative, so that not only what’s on the surface will be enjoyable, but it will also offer some kind of intellectual discourse with a listener. The genesis of Sinfonía No. 6 came about in a conversation with Domingo Hindoyan. He asked me to write a symphonic work for his inaugural concert with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic. He mentioned that the other work on the program would be Beethoven’s 9th Symphony; and in jest, I replied that if I write a companion symphony it would be my sixth symphony, a Pastoral Symphony! Although my initial reaction was humorous in nature, the idea started to take hold in my imagination. The challenge was phenomenal — how can I create a sonic representation of ‘nature’ in a modern sense? It is impossible to go back to an early 19th-century bucolic and sylvan representation of nature, but still our world — with all its turmoil — fascinates and inspires me, as it did for composers in the past.”

Sierra adds, “The memories of my youth, they have never abandoned me. But my memory is of a place that is not there anymore. Sinfonia No. 6 encapsulates many of my life’s experiences in the tropics, from the arresting beauty of urban and rural landscapes and soundscapes to the very forces of nature that the Caribbean faces every year in the form of hurricanes. The sounds of popular music and the nocturnal sounds from Puerto Rico are also integrated into the sonic structure of the work. I framed Sinfonía No. 6 within the traditional symphonic model, with a first movement in Sonata form.”

More Sierra news: On March 21 and 22, the Minnesota Orchestra opens its concert series with Sierra’s ever-popular work Fandangos, also led by Domingo Hindoyan.