Thursday, February 4, 2010

Detroit News: 'Sphinx engages young minority musicians'; Elena Urioste is Guest Sunday, Feb. 7

[Violinist Elena Urioste will be a guest performer at Sunday's Sphinx competition at Orchestra Hall at The Max. (Sphinx Organization) From The Detroit News]
Lawrence B. Johnson / Special to The Detroit News
“What a distance the Sphinx Organization has come in its advocacy of young black and Latino string players. Aaron Dworkin, who founded (invented might be a more apt word) Sphinx a dozen years ago, measures the success of his mission in pragmatic terms. 'At the beginning, many people -- including professional musicians of color -- said to me, “The talent simply isn't out there,”' Dworkin says. 'I don't hear that any more.'

“This weekend, the Sphinx Organization holds its 12th annual competition finals for aspiring minority string players in junior and senior divisions. The senior finals at Orchestra Hall on Sunday will feature two Sphinx laureates, violinists Elena Urioste and Melissa White. Emblematic of Sphinx's core purpose, the orchestra accompanying the finalists in both divisions will be made up entirely of black and Latino musicians, all professionals from orchestras and music schools around the country. The conductor will be Detroit native Damon Gupton, a graduate of the University of Michigan and the Juilliard School.

“Over the past 11 years, the Sphinx Organization has awarded more than $1 million in prizes and scholarships. But just as important, Dworkin says, competition winners have received invaluable opportunities to play with major American orchestras. 'Our laureates are visible,' Dworkin says. That's a proud father's understatement. In recent months, the best and brightest of Sphinx alums have appeared on 'The Today Show' and 'Good Morning America,' performed at Carnegie Hall and been received at the White House. 'The television appearances are critically important because of the sheer numbers of people they reach,' Dworkin says. 'And the effect on the young musicians involved is beyond measure.'” [Violinist Aaron P. Dworkin (b. 1970) is profiled at]

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