November marked the return of the South Florida Symphony Orchestra. Helmed by maestra and music director Sebrina Alfonso since 1997 and president and CEO Jacqueline Lorber since 2009, the symphony has become a South Florida institution and was recently named one of the Broward Center for the Performing Arts’ partners in the arts. Here, FLI chats with Alfonso and Lorber about performing amid a pandemic and more.
FLI: What do you enjoy most about being president and CEO of the symphony?
Lorber: It’s been my honor and privilege to grow the South Florida Symphony Orchestra into the force that it has become. We’re known as the “orchestra of the future” because of our approach to presenting a full array of music, our forward-thinking embrace of diversity, and the way we work with all aspects of the community.
How did the symphony continue its performances during the pandemic?
Lober: We focused on what we could do instead of what we couldn’t do. We focused on providing our musicians with work and patron engagement. We had a virtual wine tasting in Napa Valley, recitals, and filmed and delivered our entire “Masterworks” season.
Maestra Alfonso, you’ve been at the helm of the symphony since its inception. What have the past few decades leading this extraordinary group been like for you?
Alfonso: You could say it has been my life. The symphony’s life became and is a part of me. I feel we have become a fabric of the communities of South Florida and their children. The effort of this incredible organization is truly being felt and seen, and it’s exhilarating when it all comes together.
How often does the symphony perform?
Alfonso: Our musicians are constantly performing around the area. We perform [through April] in our “Masterworks” series. May through August we perform our chamber series. Our venues are The Parker in Fort Lauderdale, Temple Israel of Greater Miami, and Tennessee Williams Theatre in Key West.
Tell us about the return of in-person experiences.
Alfonso: Part of the emotion when we perform to a live audience is the feeling of their energy. The orchestra and the audience have a mutual excitement over being together again. The audiences cannot contain themselves and have been exuberant during the concerts. We can feel that, and it lifts us even more. I can say it makes normal feel very special.
Why do you feel the arts are important in a city’s cultural makeup?
Alfonso: The arts come from human nature. This is from us, within us. It is a discipline that has produced great artists, musicians, dancers, poets, etc. It is the beauty of the human soul. It replenishes us; it feeds our emotions, our intellect, and our inner child. To take what is a natural human instinct and raise it to its highest form for all to hear and see is the greatest gift we can give to our communities. Excellence becomes a way of life.
March 23: “Mozart and Mendelssohn” at The Parker, Fort Lauderdale
April 27: “Beethoven’s Eroica and Copland Clarinet Concerto” at The Parker, Fort Lauderdale