Alvaro Cordero was born on August 24, 1954, in the city of Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He holds both a bachelor and a master's degree in composition from the New England Conservatory of Music and a Ph.D. in composition from Brandeis University. His main composition teachers were William Thomas McKinley and Donald Martino. Additional guidance was provided by George Perle, Gunther Schuller, and Mario Davidovsky.
Cordero's music has been performed by the Lyrics Arts Ensemble, Speculum Musicae, the Berkshire Music Center Chamber Players, Los Angeles Philharmonic Chamber Players, the San Francisco Symphony, Orquesta Simòn Bolivar, Orquesta Municipal de Caracas, New England Conservatory Contemporary Ensemble, and flutist Luis Julio Toro, among others.
Prizes and awards include fellowships to Tanglewood and the Composers Conference, grants from Meet-the-Composer and the American Music Center, a Remis Fellowship to Brandeis University, a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as the Koussevitzky-Tanglewood Composition Prize.
Cordero's music has represented Venezuela at the International Rostrum of Composers in Paris, France, sponsored by UNESCO.
In addition to his activity as a composer of concert music, Alvaro Cordero has been an orchestrator for the Ballet Teresa Carreño, has written extensively for films, documentaries, television, and advertisement campaigns. He has also produced and arranged in the fields of popular music, where he has worked for Venezuelan artists Frank Quintero, Luz Marina, and Guillermo Carrasco, and jazz, including the NYC Records release Room of One's Own by pianist Rachel Z.
As a teacher of harmony, instrumentation, orchestration, and composition, Cordero has been on the faculties of the New England Conservatory Preparatory School, the Instituto Universitario De Estudios Musicales (IUDEM), and the Escuela Ars Nova. He lives in Milan, Italy.