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. But a budding career as a solo pianist — she was one of three finalists in the International Piano Concerto Competition in Dudley, UK in 1974 — was further 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 from 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 the journey towards her calling as a composer. Since then, interest in her music across all genres — orchestral, chamber, vocal, and 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 her reputation as a composer of huge originality and consummate skill.
Alberga has gathered a number of awards—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.