Receiving its New York premiere is Sierra's Songs from the Diaspora with soprano Heidi Grant Murphy and her husband, pianist Kevin Murphy. A CMS co-commission written for the couple and the St. Lawrence String Quartet, the work is a cycle of seven songs inspired by the 1492 expulsion of the Jews from Spain, taking from verses written by exiled Jews in such places as Jerusalem, Sarajevo, Turkey and Bulgaria. Sierra worked with both complete and fragmented lyrics, attempting to join together melodic fragments seamlessly. "When I wrote these songs" the composer said in a statement, "I wanted to recreate the spirit as reflected in the melodic fragments, and to evoke with the accompaniment a sound world that reflected the beautiful and profoundly moving imagery expressed in the verses."
Sierra, 54, studied at the Conservatory of Music and the University of Puerto Rico, and later at the Royal College of Music, University of London and the Institute for Sonology in Utrecht. In 1979, he began working with Ligeti at the Hamburg Hochschule f‹r Musik, and in 1982, returned to Puerto Rico. Sierra first drew notice in 1987 when the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra premiered J‹bilo at Carnegie Hall. He was MSO's composer-in-residence from 1989 until he joined Cornell University's faculty in 1992.
Also on the November 14 program are Chausson's Chanson perp_tuelle, Franck's String Quartet in D major and Schumann's String Quartet in F major. Visit www.chambermusicsociety.org for more information.