Sierra: Sinfonia No. 6 at Liverpool

I want to make music that is communicative – so not only what’s on the surface will be enjoyable, but it will also offer some kind of intellectual discourse with a listener.” — Roberto Sierra

On October 14, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic opens its concert season with the premiere of Roberto Sierra’s Sinfonia No. 6, conducted by Domingo Hindoyan. Co-commissioned with the Boston Symphony and the National Polish Radio Symphony Orchestra, Sinfonia No. 6 is a result of the Liverpool Philharmonic’s successful premiere from last season of the composer’s Trumpet Concerto “Salseando,” written for soloist Pacho Flores. The new 22-minute work is scored for: piccolo; 2 flutes; 2 oboes; 2 clarinets; bass clarinet; 2 bassoons; contrabassoon; 4 horns; 3 trumpets in C; 3 trombones; tuba; timpani, 3 percussion, and strings. A subsequent performance follows on October 16, and the concert will be streamed on-demand on October 28.

Domingo Hindoyan, courtesy: Royal Liverpool Philharmonic

Sierra shares some insight into his new symphonic work. “The genesis of Sinfonia No. 6 came about in a conversation with conductor Domingo Hindoyan. He wanted me to write a symphonic work for his inaugural concert as music director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra. 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 6th 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.”

He continues. “Each movement reflects memories from my life in Puerto Rico. The memories of my youth, they have never abandoned me. But my memory is of a place that is not there anymore. ‘Memoria Urbana’ (Urban Memory) contains the pulse and vitality of the city life, which at times can be violent but can also overwhelm us with images of sublime beauty. The magical nights of the tropics with the infinite starry skies and the wondrous sounds of the fauna inspired ‘De noche’ (At Night), and the terrifying natural forces of the tropics guided the form and the sounds of ‘Huracán’ (Hurricane), where the eye of the storm interrupts with it ominous calm and the relentless beating of the storm. The symphony ends with ‘Final’ (End), a celebration of the rhythms of the Caribbean. While the work has programmatic content, the framework is structured as a ‘symphony’, with a first movement in Allegro Sonata form.”

More Sierra news: on October 28, the Catalyst Quartet joins the Imani Winds for a performance of the composer’s Concierto de Cámara at the Moss Arts Center’s Fife Theatre in Blacksburg, VA.