Roberto Sierra Fandangos Program Notes
The fandango is a Spanish courtly dance, in three-four time, with a four-measure bass line. Energetic yet simple melodic material completes the piece, likely reflecting the fandango’s Baroque dance origins, with melodies improvised over the repeated bass. In classical music, one of the most famous adaptations is the Fandango movement of Luigi Boccherini’s guitar quintet, and Sierra also writes that his piece refers to the keyboard fandango of Spanish composer Antonio Soler (1729-83). In Sierra’s 2002 piece, phrases are mostly four measures long, though he deftly shortens or expands the pattern from time to time, while exploiting the symphony orchestra’s pallet of colors, especially the auxiliary instruments, like piccolo, English horn, bass clarinet, and an expanded percussion section. Five times in this ten-minute long piece, however, the music breaks away from the courtly structure, into something more whimsical, sometimes growing wild and even, perhaps, transforming into a savage expression of the orchestra’s possibilities. Sierra writes, I bring [the Fandango] to the present through some transformations of the musical fabric. When we are hearing something that may sound Baroque, a window into our time opens, and the piece is transformed. My title Fandangos (in plural) refers to the multi-dimensionality of the work. Born in 1953, Roberto Sierra has served as composer-in-residence with the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as orchestras in Milwaukee, Puerto Rico, and New Mexico, and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2010.
Born: October 9, 1953, Vega Baja, Puerto Rico