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Roberto Sierra, Grammy for Best Classic Work.

Last night in Las Vegas, the names of the winning artists and winning works of the  Latin Grammy Awards were revealed. The award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition/Work finally went to the album Music from Cuba and Spain, Sierra: Sonata for Guitar by Cuban-born, US-based guitarist Manuel Barrueco (Santiago de Cuba, 1952).

The album, published by Tonar Music, was released last March. The original idea for the recording was to explore musical relations between Cuba and Spain, but, as the guitarist explains on his website, “later I thought it would be important to include the magnificent Sonata for guitar by Roberto Sierra, even though Sierra is neither Cuban nor Spanish, but from Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is, however, a country with a culture so similar to that of Cuba that they are often referred to as ‘the two wings of the same bird'”.

Almost all the works on the disc are old. Some are even very old – those of Luis de Narváez, one of the most important Spanish composers and vihuelists of the Renaissance. But the nucleus is made up of Spanish composers mainly from the 19th century: Isaac Albéniz (1860-1909), Enrique Granados (1867-1916), Sebastián Iradier (1809-1865), Joaquín Malats (1872-1912), as well as the Cuban Ignacio Cervantes (1847-1905) and the Spanish-Cuban Joaquín Nin-Culmell (1908-2004). The only current composition is, precisely, Roberto Sierra’s Sonata for guitar, about fourteen minutes long and composed between 2007 and 2010.

Roberto Sierra was born in 1953 in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico and studied composition both in Puerto Rico and in Europe, where he was taught by György Ligeti at the Hochschule für Musik in Hamburg. In 2017 he was the winner of the sixteenth edition of the SGAE Tomás Luis de Victoria Prize.

© Photography downloaded from Roberto Sierra’s website.