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Composer Roberto Sierra Wins 2004 Kenneth Davenport National Competition for Orchestral Works

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NEW PALTZ -- The School of Fine & Performing Arts at the State University of New York at New Paltz is pleased to announce that Mr. Roberto Sierra of Ithaca, New York is the winner of the 2004 Kenneth Davenport National Competition for Orchestral Music. Sierra will receive a $5,000 prize, serve as Composer-in-Residence in the SUNY New Paltz Department of Music, and his winning composition, Sinfonia No. 1 , will be performed by the Hudson Valley Philharmonic, conducted by Randall Craig Fleischer on Friday, November 19 at Julien J. Studley Theatre, SUNY New Paltz and on Saturday. November 20 at the Bardavon in Poughkeepsie. The public is invited to meet Roberto Sierra at a Composer's Forum at SUNY New Paltz on Thursday, November 18 at 5:00 p.m. in Nadia and Max Shepard Recital Hall, located in College Hall. This event is free and open to all. Sierra will also speak at the pre-concert talks along with conductor Randall Craig Fleischer prior to the Hudson Valley Philharmonic performances.

Tickets to the Hudson Valley Philharmonic are available by calling the Bardavon Box Office, 845-473-2072 or TicketMaster, 845-454-3388.

Biographical Information on Roberto Sierra

For more than a decade Roberto Sierra's musical works have been part of the repertoire of the major orchestras, ensembles and festivals in the USA 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.

Recent commissions include Concerto for Orchestra for the centennial celebrations of the Philadelphia Orchestra commissioned by the Koussevitzky Music Foundation and the Philadelphia Orchestra; 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"); Fandangos for the National Symphony Orchestra In Washington DC; Sinfon�a No. 1, commissioned by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra; Fanfarria, aria y movimiento perpetuo for violin and piano commissioned by the Library of Congress to celebrate Copland's centennial; and Double Concerto for violin and viola co-commissioned by the Pittsburgh and Philadelphia Orchestras.

In 2003 he was awarded the Academy Award in Music by the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The award states: "Roberto Sierra writes brilliant music, mixing fresh and personal melodic lines with sparkling harmonies and striking rhythms. . ." His Sinfon�a No. 1, a work commissioned by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, won the 2004 Kenneth Davenport Competition for Orchestral Works.

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. During the 2000-2001 season Sierra was Composer-In-Residence with the Philadelphia Orchestra, and in the 2004-2005 season he is the Music Alive Composer-In-Residence of the New Mexico Symphony.

Sierra's numerous commissions include works for many of the major American orchestras as well as ensembles in Europe, and the groups that have performed his works include the orchestras of Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Atlanta, Houston, 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, England's BBC Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, the Tonhalle Orchestra of Zurich, the Spanish orchestras of Galicia and Barcelona, and at Wolf Trap, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Festival Casals, France's Festival de Lille, and others.

Roberto Sierra's music may be heard on recently released CD's by New World Records, Albany Records, Gasparo, Newport Classic, New Albion, ADDA, VRAS Productions, Musical Heritage Society, Koss Classics, CRI, BMG, Fleur de Son and Dorian Records. In the spring of 2004 EMI Classics released his two guitar concertos Folias and Concierto Barroco with Manuel Barrueco as soloist.

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 f�r Musik in Hamburg under the renowned Gy�rgy 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. Roberto Sierra is currently Professor of Composition at Cornell University.

Notes on Sinfon�a No. 1

"During the last decade I have written several large scale orchestral works: Tropicalia during my composer-in-residence years with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and Concerto for Orchestra, written more recently (2000) during my residency with the Philadelphia Orchestra. However, this work is the first of the multi-movement works that I title "Symphony". There is one good reason for it; it is indeed a symphony in terms of the structure, not far (except for aspects of tonality) to what Beethoven did in his first Symphony. In fact, I modeled my work loosely on Beethoven's 1st. For example, the first movement starts with a slow expressive adagio, followed by an allegro that clearly contains the basic formal elements of sonata form. The second movement bursts with emotion and intense orchestral colors. The scherzo that follows looks again at Beethoven's classicism, although here the time signature is not the usual 3/4 but rather a bouncy 5/4. The symphony closes with another movement in sonata form preceded by a slow introduction that leads to an exposition infused with rhythms evocative of the clave beat in salsa music." Roberto Sierra

A History of the Davenport Competition

In 1985, the School of Fine & Performing Arts at SUNY New Paltz and the Davenport Family inaugurated the Kenneth Davenport National Competition for Orchestral Works in honor of the generous philanthropist and advocate for regional and national music and culture. This major competition for American composers invites submissions of new, unrecorded works. In 2000, expanded venues and a new collaboration with the historic Bardavon Opera House in Poughkeepsie, New York increased the national exposure of the biennial Davenport Competition, marking a new chapter in the history of this important national competition dedicated to featuring new works by American composers


High and low resolution versions of the Mr. Sierra's photo are available on the web at