Robert Sirota's work has been performed throughout the United States and Europe, at venues including Carnegie Hall's Weill Recital Hall, Merkin Hall in New York, The Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Tanglewood Music Center, the Aspen Music Festival, the Yellow Barn Music Festival, Benaroya Hall in Seattle, and at The Juilliard School, the Shepherd School of Music, Peabody, Oberlin Conservatory, Yong Siew Toh Conservatory in Singapore, Royal Conservatory in Toronto, and the Tchaikovsky Conservatory in Moscow. His commissions include works for the Empire Brass, American Guild of Organists, the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, the Seattle Symphony, the Fischer Duo, the Peabody Trio, the Webster Trio, and the Chiara String Quartet.
Robert Sirota's latest two orchestral works, A Rush of Wings and 212: Symphony No. 1, were both praised in The New York Times. Of A Rush of Wings, Steve Smith wrote that the piece is, "fashioned with the clean, angular melodies, tart harmonies, lively syncopations and punchy accents of American Neo-Classicism." Of 212: Symphony No. 1, Anthony Tommasini wrote, "If directness can be considered a New York character trait, that quality comes through in Mr. Sirota's symphony. Complexity for its own sake and expressive obfuscation are not for this energetic and highly professional composer. Although the overall musical language of this score recalls the American Neo-Classicists, Mr. Sirota's compositional voice has a distinctive tartness and rhythmic bite. Thick, astringent chromatic harmonies come in tightly bound chords to create nervous sonorities. Yet the textures are always lucid; details come through."
Robert Sirota's catalogue comprises three short operas, a full-length music theater piece, as well as orchestral, symphonic band, chamber and recital works. His 1999 work for organ and orchestra, In the Fullness of Time, has been performed several times by the Seattle Symphony, as well as by the Lincoln Symphony in Nebraska, the Meridian Symphony in Mississippi, and the Oberlin Orchestra. His chamber music has entered the repertoire of several leading ensembles: Triptych (2002) – which commemorates the victims of September 11th and is inspired by the visual art of Deborah Patterson – is often played by the Chiara and American String Quartets; his Piano Trio (1998) has been performed multiple times by the Peabody Trio, the Concord Trio, and many others; and A Sinner's Diary for flute, two violas, cello, percussion and piano, completed in 2005, has already received several performances. His music has been recorded by the Fischer Duo for the Gasparo label, and by the Chiara String Quartet for their New Voice Singles series.
Other recent works for orchestra include Meridians (2006) and Epiphanies for string quartet and orchestra (2006). Mr. Sirota's music for chorus and for organ has also been widely performed, most notably Mass (1990) for chorus, soloists, organ and percussion; The Passion of Jesus Christ (1998), a visual oratorio for soloists, chorus, organ, piano and percussion; Celestial Wind (1987) for organ; and Easter Canticles (1993) for cello and organ. Mr. Sirota's children's opera in one act, The Tailor of Gloucester (1987), is based on the story by Beatrix Potter and has been produced by companies throughout the country.
Robert Sirota has received grants from the Guggenheim Foundation, the United States Information Agency, the National Endowment for the Arts, Meet The Composer, and the American Music Center. Among his awards are a First Prize in the Long Island Composers Alliance Competition and the Andrew White Medal from Loyola College in Baltimore.
A native New Yorker, Mr. Sirota received his earliest compositional training at the Juilliard School, and received his bachelor's degree in piano and composition from Oberlin Conservatory where he studied with Joseph Wood and Richard Hoffman. A Thomas J. Watson Fellowship allowed him to study and concertize in Paris, where his principal teacher was Nadia Boulanger. Returning to America, Mr. Sirota earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University, studying with Earl Kim and Leon Kirchner. In 2005, Mr. Sirota was appointed president of Manhattan School of Music, where he is also a member of the composition faculty.