Eleanor Alberga is a highly-regarded mainstream British composer with commissions from the BBC Proms and The Royal Opera, Covent Garden. With a substantial output ranging from solo instrumental works to full-scale symphonic works and operas, her music is performed all over the world.
Born 1949 in Kingston, Jamaica, Alberga decided at the age of five to be a concert pianist. Five years later, she was composing works for the piano.
In 1968 she won the biennial Royal Schools of Music Scholarship for the West Indies, which she took up in 1970 at the Royal Academy of Music in London studying piano and singing. A budding career as a solo pianist – she was one of 3 finalists in the International Piano Concerto Competition in Dudley, UK in 1974 – was soon augmented by composition with her arrival at The London Contemporary Dance Theatre in 1978. Under the inspirational leadership of its Artistic Director Robert Cohan, she became one of the very few pianists with the deepest understanding of modern dance, and her company class improvisations became the stuff of legend. These in turn led to works commissioned and conceived for dance by the company, and Alberga later became the company’s Musical Director – conducting, composing and playing on LCDT’s many tours.
It was on leaving LCDT that Alberga was able to fully embark on her calling as a composer. Since then, interest in her music across all genres – orchestral, chamber, vocal, as well as works for stage and screen – has accelerated, while her output has continued to grow.
In 2015 her commissioned work ARISE, ATHENA! for the opening of the Last Night of the BBC Proms was seen and heard by millions, and cemented a reputation as a composer of huge originality and consummate skill.
Alberga has gathered a number of awards, most notably a NESTA fellowship in 2000 and a Paul Hamlyn Award in 2019. In 2020 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.
At different times, Alberga was a member of the African Dance Company Fontomfrom, and played guitar and sang with the Jamaican Folk Singers. She was part of the duo Double Exposure with her husband the violinist Thomas Bowes, and more recently they have together founded and nurtured Arcadia, an original festival in the English countryside where they live.
Alberga was awarded an OBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2021 for services to British Music.
Biography taken from composer’s website.
Photo: Benjamin Ealovega