Roberto Sierra

From Wind Repertory Project
Roberto Sierra


Roberto Sierra (9 October 1953, Vega Baja, Puerto Rico) is a Puerto Rican composer working in the United States.

Sierra studied composition both in Puerto Rico and Europe, where one his teachers was György Ligeti at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg, Germany, from 1979 to 1982.

After his two-act opera El Mensajero de Plata, to a libretto by Myrna Casas, had premiered at the Interamerican Festival in San Juan on 9 October 1986, Sierra came to prominence in 1987 when his first major orchestral composition, Júbilo, was performed at Carnegie Hall by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. For more than three decades Sierra's works have been part of the repertoire of many of the leading orchestras, ensembles and festivals in the United States and Europe. At the inaugural concert of the 2002 world renowned Proms in London, his Fandangos was performed by the BBC Symphony Orchestra in a concert that was broadcast by both the BBC Radio and Television throughout the UK and Europe.

Many of the major American and European orchestras and international ensembles have commissioned and performed his works. Among those institutions are the orchestras of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, New Mexico, Houston, Minnesota, Dallas, Detroit, San Antonio and Phoenix, as well as the American Composers Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, the Spanish orchestras of Madrid, Galicia, Castilla y León, Barcelona, and others.

Commissioned works include Concerto for Orchestra for the centennial celebrations of the Philadelphia Orchestra commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation and the Philadelphia Orchestra; and Missa Latina commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra of Washington D.C.; Sinfonía No. 3 "La Salsa", commissioned by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra; Danzas Concertantes for guitar and orchestra commissioned by the Orquesta de Castilla y León; Double Concerto for violin and viola co-commissioned by the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Orchestras; Bongo+ commissioned by the Juilliard School in celebration of the 100th anniversary; Songs from the Diaspora commissioned by Music Accord for Heidi Grant Murphy, Kevin Murphy and the St. Lawrence String Quartet; and Concierto de Cámara co-commissioned by the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Chamber Music Northwest and Stanford Lively Arts.

In 2003 Sierra was awarded the Academy Award in Music by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His Sinfonía No. 1, a work commissioned by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, won the 2004 Kenneth Davenport Competition for Orchestral Works. In 2007 the Serge and Olga Koussevitzky International Recording Award (KIRA) was awarded to Albany Records for the recording of his composition Sinfonía No. 3 “La Salsa”. In addition, he took the Tomas Luis de Victoria Prize, the highest honor given in Spain to a composer of Spanish or Latin American origin.

On February 2, 2006, Sierra's Missa Latina premiered at the Kennedy Center, in Washington, D.C., conducted by Leonard Slatkin to considerable acclaim. The Washington Times judged it "the most significant symphonic premiere in the District since the late Benjamin Britten's stunning War Requiem was first performed in the still-unfinished Washington National Cathedral in the late 1960s." On March 3, 2007, the Missa Latina was performed at the 51st Casals Festival in Sierra's homeland, Puerto Rico, where it was equally well received.

Roberto Sierra has served as composer-in-residence with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra and New Mexico Symphony. In 2010 he was elected to the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Sierra is a professor at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, where he teaches composition.

Works for Winds


  • The Horizon Leans Forward…, compiled and edited by Erik Kar Jun Leung, GIA Publications, 2021, p. 472.
  • Roberto Sierra website Accessed 17 September 2017
  • Roberto Sierra, Wikipedia
  • Seggelke, Martin H. "Fandango." In Teaching Music through Performance in Band. Volume 6, edit. & comp. by Richard Miles, 809-816. Chicago: GIA Publications, 2007.