Sebrina María Alfonso made her New York debut conducting the American Symphony Orchestra at the finals of the Stokowski International Competition in Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center. The audience greeted this prizewinner with a standing ovation following her performance and pronounced her the clear winner in the audience poll announced at the end of the proceedings. New York reviewer Bill Zakariasen, in his Westsider article, wrote “…Sebrina Maria Alfonso [is] a dynamic, commanding Maestro with plenty of orchestral experience. Throughout, she was a confident, coherent leader displaying total freedom of expression and phrasing. The orchestra played flawlessly for her, and the audience gave her the only bravos we heard all evening.” Indeed The New York Times reported, “Ms. Alfonso was overwhelmingly favored by the audience.”
Following an appearance with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra, the San Jose Mercury News critiqued: “…Alfonso…ushered her audience into chambers of fantasy, imagery and feeling – elements essential to fine music-making. This is the way conducting used to be.”
In 2002, Maestra Alfonso became the first Cuban American conductor invited to conduct Cuba’s premier orchestra where she received standing ovations with standing room only concerts. She continues a relationship with that orchestra and has traveled to Cuba on four other occasions.
Other orchestras with which Maestra Alfonso has appeared as guest conductor are the: Los Angeles Philharmonic; National Orchestra of Cuba; San Jose Symphony; San Jose Chamber Orchestra; Pacific Symphony; San Antonio Symphony; North Carolina Symphony; Charleston Symphony; Prague Radio Symphony; Orchestra de Rús in Sienna, Italy; Ann Arbor Symphony; Missouri Symphony Society; Women’s Philharmonic, and Aspen Music Festival Orchestra.
And on the lighter side, the Tourist and Development Council for the State of Florida invited Maestra Alfonso to conduct an Underwater Concert for over 400 divers, which received recognition worldwide.
Prominent individual performers with whom Maestra Alfonso has worked include Cho-Liang Lin, Chee-Yun, Lara St. John, Robert McDuffie, Sharon Isbin, Elmar Oliveira, Nicolette Benedetti, Awadagin Pratt, Natasha Paremski, Jeffrey Chappell, Zuill Bailey, Davron Monroe, Svetlana Smolina, Christopher Taylor, and John Whittlesey, among others.
The Vienna Boys Choir and the WannaBeatles also have collaborated in sold-out performances.
With her national reputation continuing to expand, Maestra Alfonso has been the recipient of feature stories on CBS radio news, CNN, the Associated Press, MS Magazine (New York), Deco Drive, and Miami News (ABC) and has been reported in Reuters.
Maestra Alfonso is an advocate for American composers and this commitment has caused her to organize group commissions for various orchestras. She has recorded works of James Grant under the MMC label of Boston with the Prague Radio Symphony. She is also a featured conductor with the San Jose Chamber Orchestra of American Composers.
During the summers at the Conductors Institute, Maestra Alfonso held fellowships and was invited to perform several world premieres, including her own composition ‘Freedom Crossing’, commemorating the 10th anniversary of the Mariel Cuban boat-crossing in which thousands risked their lives to gain freedom.
Born and raised in Key West, Florida, Maestra Alfonso had an intense desire to bring orchestra music to the Key West Community. In July 1997, she presented a plan to the arts community in Key West outlining the educational benefit, cultural value, and economic impact of an orchestra to the community. The 1998-1999 concert season began with the realization of that effort with great success, which has now expanded to include the entire South Florida Region.
Since that first season, the South Florida Symphony has developed into a world class orchestra. As the 2015-2016 season begins, Maestra Alfonso has renewed her commitment to present the finest of symphonic performances and enrich the cultural experience of South Florida. She envisages the Symphony enhancing the lives of residents and visitors alike, bringing vibrancy to the South Florida cultural landscape through refreshing repertoire mixing old masterworks and newer, edgier material. Reviewer Carlos Harrison in his Southern Living article reported the Maestra’s demeanor as a conductor: “Stepping onto the podium…in her black tux, the music is ingrained and flowing through her. She begins with barely perceptible twitches of the baton. Her left heel taps slightly. Then she begins to bounce rhythmically. As the music surges, her eyes close, her body sways. She rises on tiptoe, reaching with powerful, sweeping arcs of the baton– pointing, pulling, slashing. At the finish, …she bows. The crowd breaks into a thunderous standing ovation. Cheers of ‘Bravo!’ echo throughout the hall.” The musicians and the audience are jubilant. The Maestra has projected what the music said to her. This absolute love of music and unwavering passion to grow, expand, and discover continue driving Maestra Alfonso and the Symphony toward excellence as the 18th season takes off.