In a recent interview on the show “Unapologetically Queer” hosted by Al Ferguson, renowned music director and conductor Sebrina Alfonso shared her inspiring journey and discussed her experiences as an unapologetically queer woman in the music industry. Alfonso’s trailblazing work and contributions to the LGBTQ+ community have earned her recognition and admiration throughout her career.
A Musical Pioneer:
Sebrina Alfonso’s passion for music ignited at a young age. With a master’s degree in music from Virginia Commonwealth University and doctoral studies from the prestigious Peabody Institute at Johns Hopkins University, Alfonso’s musical prowess is undeniable. In 2002, she made history as the first Cuban American conductor invited to lead Cuba’s Premier Orchestra, the national Orchestra of Cuba. Her talent has also been showcased through guest appearances with renowned orchestras like the Los Angeles Philharmonic, San Jose Symphony, and the women’s Philharmonic.
During the interview, Alfonso fearlessly embraced her identity as an unapologetically queer woman. She candidly shared her coming-out story, which took place during her 10th-grade years. From a young age, Alfonso knew she was different, developing a crush on a classmate and later realizing her attraction to women. Her journey of self-discovery and acceptance serves as an inspiration for others navigating their own paths.
A Leader in a Male-Dominated Field:
As the music director and conductor of the South Florida Symphony Orchestra, Alfonso occupies a prominent position in the industry. When asked about the representation of women and queer individuals in similar roles, Alfonso highlighted the progress made in recent years. She acknowledged that while there were significant barriers and glass ceilings in the past, more women are now being hired as conductors in major orchestras. Alfonso’s success and visibility contribute to breaking these barriers and paving the way for future generations.
Creating Inclusivity and Unity:
Alfonso’s work with the South Florida Symphony Orchestra goes beyond the realm of music. Together with Jacqueline Lorber, the president and CEO of the orchestra, Alfonso has fostered a strong sense of community and inclusivity. The orchestra has garnered a large LGBTQ+ following and actively promotes tolerance, equality, and a welcoming environment. Alfonso believes that making patrons feel like part of a symphony family is a vital mission, emphasizing the importance of diversity and acceptance.
Honored as a Pioneer:
Recognizing Alfonso’s exceptional contributions, History Fort Lauderdale honored her during June Pride Month as part of their exhibition, “Take Pride: A Retrospective of LGBTQ+ Life in South Florida.” Alfonso initially felt unworthy of being called a pioneer but later realized the impact she has had in promoting equality and perseverance through music. Her journey serves as a testament to the power of individuals in driving positive change.
Sebrina Alfonso’s interview on “Unapologetically Queer” shed light on her remarkable journey as a music director, conductor, and unapologetically queer icon. Her trailblazing work, from breaking gender barriers to inspiring inclusivity within the South Florida Symphony Orchestra, showcases her passion for music and her unwavering commitment to the LGBTQ+ community. Through her talent and visibility, Alfonso continues to inspire and pave the way for future generations in the music industry and beyond.