Roberto Sierra is considered to be today one of the leading American composers of his generation. In 1987 Sierra came to prominence when his first major orchestral composition, Júbilo, was performed at Carnegie Hall by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. His works have been performed by the major orchestras of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Houston, Milwaukee, Minnesota, Dallas, Detroit, San Antonio and Phoenix, as well as by the American Composers Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the National Symphony Orchestra, the Kronos Quartet, Continuum, the Bronx Arts Ensemble, Voices of Change, England's BBC Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and at Wolf Trap, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Festival Casals, Schleswig-Holstein Festival in Germany, France's Festival de Lille and others.
Recent commissions include Con madera, metal y cuero for Evelyn Glennie commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Royal Scottish National Orchestra and the Casals Festival (the premiere was part of the BBC 20th Century Retrospective "Sounding the Century"); Cuentos, commissioned by Camerata de las Américas; Cuatro Versos, a Cello Concerto commissioned by Carlos Prieto; Fanfarria, aria y movimiento perpetuo for violin and piano commissioned by the Library of Congress to celebrate Copland's centennial; Concerto for Orchestra for the centennial celebrations of the Philadelphia Orchestra commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation and the Philadelphia Orchestra; Fandangos for the National Symphony Orchestra In Washington DC; and Concerto for Saxophones and Orchestra for the phenomenal saxophonist James Carter, commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra. Recently the acclaimed guitarist Manuel Barrueco premiered a new concerto titled Folias with the New World Symphony. The work was recorded in Spain with the Orchestra of Galicia and released by EMI Classics. A new song cycle titled Beyond the Silence of Sorrow was commissioned by the Seattle, the New Mexico and the Tucson Symphony Orchestras. The composer recently completed his first symphony (Sinfonía No. 1) commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Doble Concierto commissioned by the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Orchestras.
Roberto Sierra was born in Puerto Rico where he pursued early studies at the Conservatory of Music and the University of Puerto Rico. After graduation, Sierra went to Europe to further his musical knowledge, studying first at the Royal College of Music and the University of London, and later at the Institute for Sonology in Utrecht. Between 1979 and 1982 he did advanced work in composition at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg under the renowned György Ligeti. In 1982 Sierra returned to Puerto Rico to occupy administrative posts in arts administration and higher education, first as Director of the Cultural Activities Department at the University of Puerto Rico, and later as Chancellor of the Puerto Rico Conservatory of Music. Throughout this period, he was vigorously engaged as a composer on the international scene.
In 2003 Roberto Sierra was awarded the prestigious Award in Music by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His Salsa para vientos was a prize-winning work at the 1983 Budapest Spring Festival, and his Suite won first prize at the Alienor Harpsichord Competition. In 1987 the Almeida Festival in London devoted an entire concert to his chamber works, and the event was recorded and broadcasted by the BBC. In April 2000 Continuum presented a retrospective of Sierra's chamber works at Merkin Concert Hall in NY. Roberto Sierra's Music may be heard on releases by New World Records, Newport Classic, New Albion, ADDA, Musical Heritage Society, Koss Classics, CRI, BMG, Fleur de Son, Albany, Ondine, Urtext and Dorian Records.
In 1989 Roberto Sierra became the Composer-in-Residence of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. In addition to advising the MSO on American repertoire, Mr. Sierra contributed to the musical life of Milwaukee with a number of new works, including pieces for local chamber and choral ensembles, and for individual musicians. The Milwaukee-based Koss Classics released a CD of his orchestral music, featuring the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Roberto Sierra is currently teaching composition at Cornell University. During the 2000-2001 season Sierra was Composer-In-Residence with the Philadelphia Orchestra.