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Colloquium Launch: Puerto Rican Soundscapes

Americas Society

May 12, 2016


(Ruth Fernandez, New York, ca 1950)

In collaboration with:

Pre-registration for this event is now closed. Limited seating may be available beginning at 6:30 PM on the night of the event.

Admission: FREE and open to the public. Pre-registration required. 

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Music of the Americas and the Center for Puerto Rican Studies host a reception to launch the colloquium Puerto Rican Soundscapes, which examines the history, creation, and reception of three distinct musical genres—roots, classical, and jazz—as they are adapted, interpreted, and transformed by Puerto Rican musicians within the United States. Dr. Silvia Lazo, Visiting Scholar at Cornell University, will discuss her work on Puerto Rican composer Roberto Sierra.

About the Center for Puerto Rican Studies (Centro)

Founded in 1973, Centro took root amid the social justice climate that gave rise to open admission and the field of ethnic studies. Two years prior, a group of CUNY professors drafted a proposal for a research center in Puerto Rican studies to be housed at the CUNY Graduate Division, funded by the Ford Foundation, and which would comprise subcommittees to oversee research activities of participating faculty and students. The focus was on Puerto Rican culture, Puerto Rican Studies programs at CUNY, and a cooperative research program with the University of Puerto Rico. Also, the center's projected activities included the translation of Spanish-language Puerto Rican texts into English, the establishment of a library, curriculum development, and a research focus on Puerto Rican society and culture both on the island and stateside. Centro, now housed at Hunter College, in addition to its research activities, also publishes works, including Centro Journal and books related to diasporan history. The center's motto—"Understanding, preserving, and sharing the Puerto Rican experience in the United States"—is emblematic of its grown as an institution. 

About the panelists

Silvia Lazo is a Visiting Scholar at Cornell University, where she is writing the biography of Puerto Rican-American composer Roberto Sierra.  Her research considers relationships between music and transnationalism via individual history of artists and institutional history. 

Roberto Sierra studied composition in Puerto Rico and Europe, where one of his teachers was György Ligeti at the Hamburg Hochschule. He has been composer-in-residence with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Puerto Rico Symphony Orchestra, and New Mexico Symphony Orchestra. Sierra is Professor of Composition at Cornell University. 

Image courtesy of the Justo A. Martí Collection, Centro Archives at Hunter College.