Roberto Sierra

Old Dominion Foundation Professor of Music Emeritus


For the past three decades Roberto Sierra’s works have been performed by orchestras, ensembles and festivals in the Americas and Europe. Sierra came to prominence in 1987, when his first major orchestral composition, Júbilo, was performed at Carnegie Hall by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. Major commissions and performances include: the Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony, Atlanta Symphony, Houston Symphony, Minnesota Orchestra, Dallas Symphony, San Antonio Symphony, and Phoenix Symphony, as well as by the American Composers Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Los Angeles Philharmonic, Buffalo Philharmonic, National Symphony Orchestra, Tonhalle Orchestra (Zurich), National Orchestra of Barcelona, Symphony Orchestra of Galicia, the Kronos Quartet, Continuum, Germany’s Radio Orchestras from Saarland and Frankfurt, England’s BBC Symphony, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and at Wolf Trap, the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Schleswig-Holstein Festival, Festival Casals, France’s Festival de Lille, and others.  

Roberto Sierra has been Composer-in-Residence with the Milwaukee Symphony, Puerto Rico Symphony, New Mexico Symphony and the Philadelphia Orchestra. 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. . .” Recent recordings include the highly acclaimed Missa Latina for the Naxos label. In 2010 he was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. 

Roberto Sierra’s teaching at Cornell focuses mainly on composition, although his interests extend also to theory, orchestration and analysis.

Research Focus

  • Composition
  • Theory
  • Orchestration
  • Analysis


Recent Commissions:

  • Sinfonía No. 3, commissioned by the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra with a grant from the Chicago Joyce Foundation (2004).
  • Sinfonía No. 2, commissioned by the University of Miami School of Music Abraham Frost Commission Series (2004).
  • Sinfonía No. 1, commissioned by the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra (2003).
  • Double Concerto for violin and viola, commissioned by the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra (2002).
  • Concerto for Saxophone and Orchestra, commissioned by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (2002).
  • Beyond the Silence of Sorrow, commissioned by the Seattle Symphony Orchestra (2002).
  • Kandinsky, commissioned by the Library of Congress (2001).
  • Fandangos, commissioned by the National Symphony Orchestra (2000).

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