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Biography

Sebrina María Alfonso

Sebrina María Alfonso, a luminary conductor, and the driving force behind the South Florida Symphony Orchestra (SFSO) stands as a testament to the transformative power of music and unwavering dedication. Alfonso, a Key West, Florida native, embarked on her remarkable orchestral journey in 1994 with her New York debut, where she conducted the American Symphony Orchestra at the finals of the Stokowski International Competition in Avery Fisher at Lincoln Center, earning overwhelming favor from the audience, as noted by The New York Times.

Alfonso’s musical education, under the guidance of acclaimed mentors like Frederic Prausnitz at Johns Hopkins’ Peabody Conservatory, and Harold Farberman and Daniel Lewis at the Conducting Institute, laid the foundation for her extraordinary career. Her talent and passion soon led her to grace the stage with world-class ensembles, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Jose Symphony, American Symphony Orchestra, Prague Radio Symphony, Orchestra Rus de Sienna, the Women’s Philharmonic of San Francisco, and the Sphinx Organization. She carved her name in history as the first female conductor of Cuban American descent invited to lead Cuba’s premier orchestra, the National Orchestra of Cuba.

After achieving career successes with organizations like Baltimore’s Goucher Symphony and the John Carrol Opera Company, Alfonso returned to her roots in 1997. Her mission: to bring orchestral music, of which she did not have exposure to as a child, with its profound educational and cultural benefits, to the southernmost island in the continental United States.

Under her leadership, South Florida Symphony Orchestra has grown to become the region’s largest professional orchestra. Celebrating its 26th season, SFSO provides enriching cultural

music experiences to residents and visitors in Broward, Miami-Dade, and Monroe counties. Driven by her belief that music is pivotal to thriving communities, SFSO brings vibrancy and engagement to the arts through innovative programming and transformative educational initiatives. Alfonso initiated the Symphony in the Schools program in 1997, a testament to her commitment to early exposure to classical music, serving over 100,000 under-resourced students to date.

Accolades and recognition for the South Florida Symphony keep pouring in. SFSO was recently named the first Partner in the Arts for The Parker by the Broward Center for the Performing Arts and honored by the Broward County Cultural Division as a “Major Cultural Institution,” a distinction earned by only a select few.

Alfonso’s dedication to diversity radiates in every facet of her career, as evident in SFSO’s purposeful spotlighting of female composers, promotion of diversity within the orchestra’s ranks, and her championing of inclusivity among the students served by SFSO. In recognition of her significant contributions, South Florida Symphony Orchestra’s President and CEO, Jacqueline Lorber, and Maestra Alfonso were honored at Harvey Milk’s Diversity Honors in 2023 and Alfonso was recognized as one of South Florida Business Journal’s “Diverse Voices.” She leads an equally dynamic life beyond her musical pursuits. She shares her journey with Jacqueline, and her devotion extends to a love for animals, gardening, and crafting beer in her spare time.

Maestra Sebrina María Alfonso is an embodiment of commitment to presenting the finest of symphonic performances and enriching the cultural landscape of South Florida. Her boundless love for music, unwavering passion for growth, and tireless pursuit of excellence continue to elevate her and the South Florida Symphony Orchestra towards even greater achievements, standing as a symbol of inspiration and a beacon of hope for the world of music, consistently pushing boundaries and revealing new dimensions of artistic wonder.

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“Sebrina never fails to delight the crowd. She is passionate in her approach, bold in her delivery, exhibiting glints of imagination with every note.”
– Beth Holland

“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.”
– San Jose Mercury News