Dr. Diana Alvarez is a singer-songwriter, poet, composer, filmmaker, educator, and scholar whose fierce Xingona voice creates a gripping atmosphere that audiences call "transcendent." Alvarez's soulful Spanglish songs exalt queer love and liberation, and are drawn from her origins in the borderlands of South Texas, where she grew up singing to the Gulf of Mexico.
Alvarez's multifaceted work centers transcendence, kinship, coalitional healing, and collective liberation through music, writing, and performance. The undercurrent of all of this work is the co-liberation and nourishment of Black and Brown women, nonbinary, trans, and genderqueer artists.
Alvarez is the composer and filmmaker behind the multimedia show, Quiero Volver: A Xicanx Ritual Opera, which has been described by the press as "a visually and acoustically stunning performance meant to honor women, non-binary and genderqueer people of color." Quiero Volver features Alvarez's original music, sonic text scores, a poem-script for ensemble performance, and documentary video portraits of artists Sharon Bridgforth, Magdalena Gómez, Vick Quezada, and Nicole M. Young. Quiero Volver premiered to a full theatre at Holyoke Community College in 2017. In 2018, Quiero Volver was produced by grassroots organizers and Smith College at the Academy of Music Theatre in Northampton, MA, and raised over $10,000 to support immigrant justice initiatives.
Alvarez's journey as a songwriter and opera composer began with her award-winning poetry, which has centered genderqueer artistic muse, Bruja Juana. In 2008, Alvarez completed her MFA in Poetry at Sarah Lawrence College, where her poetry collection, Consultations with Bruja Juana, was conceived. Consultations was published by Toadlily Press in 2009, and two of Alvarez’s poems also appear in The Best of Toadlily Press (2011). Poet Sean Nevin said of the Consultations collection, "Diana Alvarez writes the truth through a tincture of magic and prayer, and both the spirits and the living are cupping their ears to listen."
Dr. Alvarez earned her PhD in Electronic Arts Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she was mentored by groundbreaking composer Pauline Oliveros. Alvarez's dissertation research is titled, Bridge Artistx: Gatherings of Women, Non-Binary, and Genderqueer Artists of Color. At Rensselaer, Alvarez composed her opera, and blended testimonio methods and video portraiture to document the lives and work of women, nonbinary, and genderqueer artists of color. Alvarez's video art continues to expand. In 2018, Alvarez was commissioned to create a documentary for the world premiere of Sharon Bridgforth’s performance installation, dat Black Mermaid Man Lady at allgo, a statewide queer people of color organization in Austin, Texas. In addition to her documentary commissions for Bridgforth, Alvarez has directed her own music videos, as well as a music video for internationally recognized singer-songwriter and jazz musician, Pamela Means.
Diana Alvarez is the recipient of the Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize from the Fine Arts Work Center (Provincetown, MA) and the Malcolm S. Morse Graduate Research Enhancement Award in Honor of Pauline Oliveros from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Alvarez has also been an artist-in-residence at Banff Centre for the Arts in Alberta, Canada, and has received grants from Easthampton City Arts, The Community Foundation of Western Masachusetts & MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists, Northampton Arts Council, and Massachusetts Assembly/ArtPlace America.
In 2020, Diana Alvarez founded the BridgeSong Fund: Emergency Relief for Western MA BIPOC Women, Nonbinary, Trans, and Genderqueer Musicians in collaboration with the Institute for the Musical Arts, which has funded over 13 musicians and music business professionals. Alvarez is in the process of launching BridgeSong Series, a virtual convening for artists of color to manifest futures.
Diana Alvarez is an invited performer, guest lecturer, workshop facilitator, and keynote speaker at venues and schools across the US, including: Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, Emmanuel College, Lehigh University, Lafayette College, Greenfield Community College, Northfield Mount Hermon School, The Parlor Room (MA), Club Passim (MA), Arcadia Folk Festival, Philadelphia Folk Festival, Connecticut Folk Festival, and more. Alvarez teaches music, writing, and multimedia performance at Bard College in Western Massachusetts and is at work on her debut EP, Ser Artista.