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Julianna Athayde and the RPO offer the world premiere of Sierra’s Violin Concerto 10/17 @8pm

Roberto Sierra
Molly Sheridan
Composer Roberto Sierra

Andreas Delfs conducts the RPO and Julianna Athayde in the premiere of a new violin concerto commissioned by the Lydia Delfs Foundation 10/17 @8pm

“What I love about Roberto's music is he always has this juxtaposition of just really heart-on-your-sleeve lyricism, and then very energized, rhythmic writing.” ~ Julianna Athayde


On May 5 and 7, 2022, the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra presented the world premiere of Roberto Sierra’s Concierto para Violín y Orquesta “a la memoria de una niña valiente.” Music director Andreas Delfs led the performances in The Eastman Theatre’s Kodak Hall, which featured the orchestra’s concertmaster Juliana Athayde as soloist.

Sierra premiere RPO
Soloist Juliana Athayde, composer Roberto Sierra, and Maestro Andreas Delfs take a bow after performing the world premiere of Roberto Sierra’s Violin Concerto with the Rochester Philharmonic Orchestra.

Sierra’s Violin Concerto (subtitled “in memory of a brave girl”), commissioned by the Lydia Delfs Foundation, was a personal piece, the composer explained. “The driving impulse for writing this violin concerto was the news of the premature departure of Lulu (Lydia) Delfs, the daughter of dear, close friends and a beloved person that I knew since she was a very young girl. Although the tragic nature of the initial chord of the work reflected my grief, I did not want to write a work that in any way became biographical. The only part of the piece that reflects the sweet nature of the child I knew is the second movement where the Lydian scale is extensively used, and where a passage from the slow movement of Beethoven’s Emperor Piano Concerto — Lulu’s favorite work — is briefly evoked.”

Sierra wrote, “The concerto is dedicated to Lulu [and] displays the violin in the grand virtuoso tradition. Structurally, it is united by recurring harmonies and motives, like the aforementioned initial chord and Lydian scale. In my recent concerti, I have been drawn to a four-movement scheme, where the third, as is the case here, becomes a scherzo. The final movement is a toccata for violin and the orchestra, which alternates between duple and triple rhythmic figures. The closing section after the final cadenza is a perpetuum mobile for both the soloist and the orchestra.”

Hear this world premiere as well as Felix Mendelssohn’s “The Fair Melusine” Overture, Franz Schubert’s Symphony No. 8, “Unfinished,” and ”An der schönen blauen Donau (On the Beautiful Blue Danube)” by Johann Strauss, Jr.

The end of the concert contains a surprise.

“I have to say, sitting in the audience for second half,” said RPO concertmaster Julianna Athayde, “I heard these sort of sweet little chuckles as people realized what was happening, you know, because at first they're thinking, what's, what's going on?”