Thursday, February 9, 2012

Detroit Free Press: 'Mark Stryker: Sphinx Finals Concert celebrates diversity'

[Violist Paul Laraia won first prize in the senior division of the 2011 Sphinx Competition. / Glenn Triest]

Mark Stryker
February 9, 2012
“Celebrating its 15th anniversary this week, the annual Sphinx Competition for black and Latino string players can look back on a track record of remarkable success and growth. Started on a shoestring by MacArthur Fellowship winner Aaron Dworkin to address the historic inequities of minorities in classical music, the competition has provided more than $1 million in prize money and scholarships, arranged hundreds of performance opportunities for its laureates with top American orchestras and reached more than 100,000 kids in schools and community centers.

The Sphinx Organization in Detroit has become one of the great driving forces for change in a field that desperately needs fresh ideas on every front. Beyond the competition -- which culminates with Sunday's finals concert featuring noted conductor Michael Morgan, the all-black and Latino professional Sphinx Symphony, Catalyst Quartet and competition laureates -- Sphinx oversees an empire of education and residency programs, camps, an instrument fund, touring ensembles, music commissioning program and more.”

While the numbers show that minorities still make up less than 5% of musicians in American orchestras, the Sphinx program is making a difference.” “In short, classical music looks more like America thanks to Sphinx.  The finals concert is at 2 p.m. Sunday, Orchestra Hall, Max M. Fisher Music Center, 3711 Woodward, Detroit. 313-576-5111. $12. The concert will also be streamed live at the website. [Aaron Dworkin (b. 1970), Founder and President of The Sphinx Organization is profiled at and has a personal website,]

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