Sierra: A Musical Mentor

Matthew Culbertson

“I’ve known Roberto Sierra my entire life and he is among my many musical mentors.”

On the eve of his December 9  concert at the Cali School of Music’s Leshowitz Recital Hall (Montclair State University, NJ), pianist Matthew Culbertson introduces the composer’s “Vivo,” Movement No. 6 from Sierra’s new piano collection Piezas Sueltas. Sierra describes his new collection as “a set of pieces that are etudes, both in the technical aspect of piano playing, and also in the sense of exploring compositional ideas. ‘Vivo’ (No. 6) is toccata-like and is a display of virtuosismo.”

As the son of Subito Music’s founder and CEO, Culbertson notes, “For more than three decades, Roberto’s works have been a part of the repertoire of many of the leading orchestras, ensembles and festivals in the USA and Europe. Roberto personally knows my technique and musical strengths, and he wrote a piece [that would showcase] those strengths. This work was dedicated to me earlier this year as a graduation present, and he and I decided I would premiere it! ‘Vivo’ is an exciting new work that is fun to play and is filled with several surprising and seemingly out-of-place moments and textures. Latin rhythms and modern harmonies make this concise yet constantly momentous movement one of the most challenging and amusing pieces I’ve had the privilege to study and perform. There is definitely a feeling of angst and agitation in this work, and the constant and quick moving pace also extends to the listener as well.”