“First” Thoughts about Roberto Sierra

“When Chatter considered presenting a special concert in celebration of the statehood of New Mexico, Roberto Sierra was the first thought of everyone around the table!”

And so, Pamela Michaelis of Chatter 20-21 Ensemble (and president of Ensemble Music New Mexico) introduces us to Sierra’s newest chamber work Caprichos. Scored for Pierrot ensemble (flute, clarinet, violin, cello and piano, with additional percussion), Caprichos is a five-movement, six-minute work which premieres on November 9 in Santa Fe, and serves as the centerpiece of Chatter’s concert celebration of the New Mexico Centenary. The program also showcases the centennial of Schoenberg’s ground-breaking work “Pierrot Lunaire.” On the following day, Chatter repeats the concert in Albuquerque.

Giancarlo Guerrero guest-conducts the BSO.
Photo: Stu Rosner, courtesy: Boston Symphony

Michaelis continues, “Roberto has wonderful connections and friendships with New Mexico… [and] we believe he loves New Mexico as much as New Mexico loves and admires him. Chatter’s artistic directors David Felberg and James Shields felt Roberto’s aesthetic and style would beautifully fit the occasion and, especially, the Chatter Ensemble.” David Felberg adds, “Roberto Sierra’s Caprichos lives up to its name, as a whimsical, virtuoso, ‘tour-de’force.’ Composed for Chatter’s core group of six, the piece is written with incredible flair and virtuosity, of which Roberto is a complete master. We’ve had an incredibly satisfying time working on it. We are so thrilled to be premiering this piece, and are convinced it will become a staple of the contemporary chamber music repertoire. ”

Another Sierra “first” occurs from November 8-10, when the Boston Symphony performs the composer’s popular Fandangos led by guest-conductor Giancarlo Guerrero. “We were delighted when Giancarlo Guerrero proposed including Roberto’s Fandangos in his Boston Symphony Orchestra program this November,” shares BSO Artistic Administrator Anthony Fogg. “Roberto’s music will be new to the BSO and its audiences, and what better chance to make this first encounter than with the guidance of one of his strongest champions. New work is a central part of programming at Symphony Hall and we’re thrilled to add Roberto’s name to the list of important composers of our time, whose work has resounded in this historic building.”

Sierra’s next world premiere—Navidad en la montaña (Christmas in the Mountains)—takes place in December when soprano Heidi Grant Murphy joins the Detroit Symphony, conducted by Leonard Slatkin.

More November news: This month, Giancarlo Guerrero also leads the Philadelphia Orchestra in three performances of Sierra’s Sinfonía No. 4. From November 10-11, the Opus One Piano Quartet performs the composer’s Fuego de angel during its Texas mini-tour to Corpus Christi and San Antonio. Written for Opus One, Fuego de angel was commissioned by the Music from Angel Fire festival and was premiered during the festival’s 2011 season. On the 28th, Sierra’s popular solo work Bongo-O receives its Cuban premiere by percussionist Eilyn Marquetti at the 25th Havana International Contemporary Music Festival.

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