Steven Alvarez came to Anchorage from the San Francisco Bay Area where he was active as both a performer and educator. Raised in a multi-ethnic military family, Steven had the opportunity to grow up in and around many diverse cultures including Hispanic, Native American, Hawaiian, Japanese, and all three coasts of the continental U.S. He graduated from San Jose State University with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Music (Voice and Percussion) and History and minored in Philosophy.
An artist with hands in many mediums, he works professionally as a percussionist, vocalist, stage actor, film and stage producer and music educator. He has produced twelve cultural documentary films and music videos which have been screened internationally at film festivals and broadcast nationally on PBS. His films have won several awards including a Native American Music Award (NAMA) for his music video In This World, produced for the intertribal contemporary indigenous band: Medicine Dream. He recently produced and directed Echoes of Ancient Voices, a short film on the creation and premier of Randy Fleischer’s Echoes and Executive Produced Games of the North, a film on the Alaskan Native and Inuit games which was broadcast on PBS in April of 2011. He is currently directing and producing Dance in Pursuit of Dreams, a performance art film based on his live multicultural dance show of the same name.
Steven began working professionally as a musician at the age of 16 and worked his way through college performing as both a singer and percussionist. As a percussionist, he worked for seven years with the Monterey Symphony and the Santa Cruz Symphony Orchestras. He has freelanced as a percussionist and vocalist in the San Francisco Bay Area before moving to Anchorage and performed as a guest artist for the Monterey Jazz Festival in 1983 with jazz artist Bobby Hutcherson. Steven was also a guest artist for the Anchorage Festival of Music (AFM) in 1997 and then served as AFM’s Executive Director for three seasons. Steven has shared the stage with Lloyd Bridges, Doc Sevrinson, Jethro Tull, R. Carlos Nakai and others and has worked with numerous bands, combos and pit orchestras. He has toured extensively throughout the U.S. and Europe, has recorded local and national radio and television commercials jingles as both a vocalist and percussionist including the 15” Hershey’s Kisses Christmas spot that has run annually for 23 years.
Music directing more than 40 theater productions he is one of the founding directors of Theater Artists United (TAU); an Anchorage based music theater company that presents two productions annually. In 2008 he co-produced the world premier of Echoes, with the Anchorage Symphony Orchestra, a multi-media symphonic piece coupling the indigenous song and dance of Hawaii, Alaska and Native America with a symphony orchestra. The piece was also performed in Washington DC at the National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI) and with the Youngstown Symphony Orchestra.
He has performed on stage in several musical theater productions, having played the roles of Jinx/Forever Plaid, Judas Iscariot and Jesus/ Jesus Christ Superstar, Che/Evita, The Celebrant/Bernstein’s Mass, and recently performed the role of The Evangelist for a production of Bach’s St John Passion. Steven regularly presents an innovative theater piece that couples film, contemporary song and indigenous storytelling, which debuted at the NMAI in Washington D.C. He has performed as a vocalist and storyteller at the Heard Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, for the Institute of American Indian Art, and with the Air Force Band of the Pacific.
Steven works regularly as a percussionist with the Anchorage Symphony, the Anchorage Opera, and Anchorage Concert Chorus orchestras, Native American band, Medicine Dream, and has performed as a solo artist at the Kennedy Center and at the NMAI’s Classical Native Series in Washington D.C. He works regularly with Native poet and musician Joy Harjo and performed at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with Saturday Night Live percussionist, Valerie Naranjo.
Steven spent fifteen years as a vocal and instrumental music educator and also served as an adjunct instructor at the University of Alaska, Anchorage for two years. Since 1992, Steven has administrated private music and dance schools, after school cultural education programs and art organizations.
He currently serves as the Director of Arts and Education for the Alaska Native Heritage Center where he is responsible for producing and developing educational and public programming, serving as the primary liaison to the Center’s national and local partners, coordinating special projects and producing cultural film documentaries. He has accrued more than 20 years of arts and education program management directing and producing educational initiatives, public programs, performance art and film festivals. Since 2002, his work and the programs he has created or directed have connected locally with more than 250,000 people.