Monday, October 12, 2009

New York Times: 'The Sphinx Organization Performs at Carnegie Hall' Oct. 7, 2009

[Sphinx Concert at Carnegie Hall, Oct. 7, 2009]
Published: October 9, 2009
“The Sphinx Organization, based in Detroit but with a national reach, is devoted to teaching classical music to black and Latino students, both as performers and as listeners. Judging by the ensembles the Sphinx has fielded in its visits to Carnegie Hall since 2004, the performance end of the program has produced magnificent results. There is a measure of built-in quality control: all the players in the Sphinx Chamber Orchestra, which played at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday evening, are winners of the annual competitions the organization has held since 1998.

So are the members of the Harlem String Quartet, which also performed, and Elena Urioste, one of the evening’s two violin soloists, with Melissa White, from the Harlem group. Ms. Urioste and Ms. White opened the concert with a virtuosic, strikingly ornamented duet version of 'The Star-Spangled Banner' and later collaborated on a zesty, beautifully phrased account of Bach’s D minor Concerto for Two Violins (BWV 1043). Ms. Urioste also played the coloristically and texturally varied solo line in Piazzolla’s 'Autumn in Buenos Aires.'

The Harlem String Quartet had the spotlight for two works: on its own, it played Wynton Marsalis's 'Hellbound Highball,' a picturesque evocation of a harrowing start-and-stop train ride, and with the orchestra’s support, it played Michael Abels’s 'Delights and Dances,' a blues-tinged neo-Classical round robin of solos and duets.

But the program was not devoted fully to solo display. The orchestra gave a shapely, sumptuous reading of the first movement from Tchaikovsky's Serenade for Strings, with Damon Gupton conducting, as well as a vigorous, unconducted performance of the Presto from Mozart's Divertimento in F (K. 138).” [The Founder/President of The Sphinx Organization is violinist Aaron P. Dworkin (b. 1970), who is profiled at]

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