The Detroit News
February 19, 2014
This weekend, young black and Latino string players from all over the country will gather in Orchestra Hall for the 17th annual Sphinx Competition.
Though geographically diverse, they all share a passion for what they do and a drive to make music their life’s work.
Among the nine senior division semi-finalists is violinist Clayton Penrose-Whitmore, 20, originally from Springfield, Ill.
“I actually started when I was 4 years old. My parents went to the Illinois State Fair, and they saw a group of violinists playing, and they kind of thought it would be cool to start me out and see what happened, and I’ve been playing ever since. They actually started violin and cello at the same time I started; it kind of went together. They still play once in a while.”
Now Clayton spends eight months out of the year attending the prestigious and highly competitive New England Conservatory of Music on the way to turning his love of music into a career.
“Playing the violin naturally fed into my passion for music; it’s just being able to express a lot of inner feelings. Some people write in journals and I equate playing violin to that.”
Xavier Foley’s reasoning for learning the double bass was simple enough: “I liked the bass because it was a big instrument.”
Foley, 19, grew up in Marietta, Ga., but now he spends his days in Philadelphia at the renowned Curtis Institute, where musicians from Leonard Bernstein to Lang Lang once honed their chops. Now Foley’s learning his craft from famed composer-bassist Edgar Meyer.
Sphinx Finals Concert
2 p.m. Sunday
Orchestra Hall at The Max
3711 Woodward, Detroit
Chris Felcyn is a freelance writer and host of “The Well-Tempered Wireless,” airing midday on WRCJ-FM (90.9).