On March 16, 2016, Sphinx will honor three outstanding artists of color who demonstrate the following qualities: artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and great potential for leadership.
Julia Bullock, Gabriel Cabezas
and Lara Downes
These three artists are the recipients of the 5th annual Sphinx Medals of Excellence. The awards will be bestowed at the official Sphinx Medals of Excellence luncheon and honorees will be celebrated at a black-tie private dinner in Washington, D.C. The three Medalists will also each receive a $50,000 artist grant for their career development.
"We are honored to celebrate these exceptional musicians. Individually and collectively, they exhibit authenticity, commitment and true artistic leadership, which is so essential to Sphinx's mission and our field, as a whole." said Sphinx President, Afa S. Dworkin.
Equally at home with opera and concert repertoire, appears as soloist with the New World Symphony and the Orchestra of St. Luke's, and in recitals at Carnegie Hall, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Kennedy Center. In November, she sings the lead role in the Berlin Philharmonic's Orchestra Academy performance of "La passion de Simone," directed by Peter Sellars, which she will reprise at the Ojai Festival in June 2016.
Ms. Bullock performed the title role in Henry Purcell's "The Indian Queen" at the Perm Opera House, The Bolshoi, Teatro Real, and the English National Opera. Other title roles include Massenet's "Cendrillon" and Janaček's "The Cunning Little Vixen," presented by the Juilliard School. This past summer, she made her debut with the New York Philharmonic and Alan Gilbert, and in 2013, she made her San Francisco Symphony debut in West Side Story, with Michael Tilson Thomas; the concert's album was nominated for a Grammy.
Julia Bullock won the 2014 Naumburg International Vocal Competition and the 2012 Young Concert Artists International Auditions, and is recipient of a 2015 Leonore Annenberg Arts Fellowship, the 2015 Richard F. Gold Grant from the Shoshana Foundation, and Lincoln Center's 2015 Martin E. Segal Award. She recently earned her Artist Diploma from The Juilliard School.
An intense player who connects to music naturally, without artifice, and brings a singing line to the cello" (The Oregonian), Gabriel Cabezas is one of America's most sought after young musicians. Combining a superb technique, intellectual curiosity and a pioneering musical spirit, Cabezas is at home in front of an orchestra, performing with a singer-songwriter or sharing the stage with a dance troupe.
Cabezas has appeared as soloist with America's finest orchestras, including those of Philadelphia, Chicago, Cleveland, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Houston, Pittsburgh and Nashville. He is also a member of the New York sextet yMusic, hailed by NPR's Fred Child as "one of the groups that has really helped to shape the future of classical music.". Cabezas studied at the Curtis Institute of Music with Carter Brey, and is a recipient of the Career Grant by the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation. He is a winner of the 2014 Astral Artists National Auditions.
A committed advocate for community engagement and education programs across the country, he is involved with Midori's Partners in Performance, the Sphinx Organization and Chicago's Citizen Musician movement. Cabezas was the first place Laureate at the Sphinx competition twice - in the Junior Division (2006); and in the Senior Division (2012).
Lara Downes is recognized as one of the most imaginative pianists on today's concert scene, called "a delightful artist with a unique blend of musicianship and showmanship" by NPR.
Downes' musical outlook reflects the diversity of her personal heritage and her transatlantic upbringing, and her performances engage a wide range of audiences with repertoire from Bach to Billie Holiday, presented with a style that the Huffington Post calls "addicting - with an open, honest heart." She has appeared on stages from Queen Elizabeth Hall and the Vienna Konzerthaus to Carnegie Hall and the Kennedy Center, and her chart-topping solo recordings have been praised as "ravishing" by Fanfare Magazine, and "luscious, moody and dreamy" by the New York Times. Her creative projects have received support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Barlow Endowment, Center for Cultural Innovation and American Public Media. She is the producer and host of The Green Room, a radio program about the lives of classical musicians, distributed nationally by the WFMT Radio Network.
Downes serves as Artist in Residence at the Mondavi Center for the Performing Arts, UC Davis, where she mentors the next generation as Director of the National Young Artists Program.