Alberga’s route to composition has not been an orthodox one. Born in 1949, in Kingston, Jamaica, she began her musical career deciding, at the age of five, to be a concert pianist, and also started composing short pieces for herself. In 1970 she won the biennial Associated Board Scholarship, supporting her studies at the Royal Academy of Music, London. At various times a member of the Jamaican Folk Singers, an African dance company and later pianist and Music Director of London Contemporary Dance Theatre, she draws from a richly diverse musical background.

2001 was a turning point, as she chose to give up her career as concert pianist and concentrate full-time on composition; she completed her Violin Concerto and was awarded a NESTA Fellowship. This major award enabled Alberga to further develop and experiment with her compositional techniques and ideas.

Alberga's many commissions encompass orchestral works as well as a wide range of solo and chamber music; the Violin Concerto, commissioned by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Joseph Swensen and written for her husband Thomas Bowes, was premiered to high critical acclaim; Mythologies, scored for large symphony orchestra, was premiered in June 2000 with Leonard Slatkin. Her opera "Letters of a Love Betrayed" with librettist Donald Sturrock, commissioned by the Royal Opera House and Music Theatre Wales, was premiered at the Royal Opera House Linbury Theatre in 2009. Other compositions include three string quartets for the Maggini and Smith Quartets, Dancing with the Shadow for Lontano, On a Bat’s Back I do fly for Kokoro (chamber ensemble of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra), and the Piano Quintet, premiered to a full house at the Wigmore Hall.

Image credit: 
Keith Saunders/ ArenaPAL