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Local World-Premiere Work Nominated for Pulitzer Prize

Innes Borstel

Wednesday, January 22, 2014 • 6:36am

The Society of Musical Arts based in Maplewood, NJ, prides itself on its innovative yet accessible musical programming.  The group’s October 2013 concert held at St. George’s Episcopal Church was no exception.  That concert had musicians and audience alike excited about hearing something very new—a world premiere, in fact.  Conductor Stephen Culbertson of West Orange, who also is president of Subito Music Publishing in Verona, has ties to many contemporary composers.  He asked composer Roberto Sierra to write something specifically tailored for a community orchestra—an orchestra where a scattering of professional musicians share sections with amateurs—lawyers, accountants, preschool teachers, among others.

Roberto Sierra then created “Montuno”, a spirited six-minute piece reminiscent of the rhythms and sounds of his native Puerto Rico.  On October 20, 2013, the world (represented by the packed crowd at St. George’s Episcopal Church on Ridgewood Road) heard this vibrant, lively work for the first time.  It was so well-received by the audience that the orchestra obliged by playing the entire piece a second time!

This work, “Montuno,” has now been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, and the Society of Musical Arts Orchestra and its many local fans are rooting for Sierra and his new work.  Finalists and winners will be announced on April 14, 2014.

The Society of Musical Arts will not be idle while awaiting the news.  They are rehearsing for a January 26th concert in Maplewood which features another brilliant contemporary composer:  Paul Moravec.  Moravec will be in the audience, too, listening to the music created by conductor Culbertson and the local musicians that comprise the Society of Musical Arts Orchestra.  More information on the concert and the orchestra at www.soma.ar88.com.

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