Two of the Sphinx organization’s flagship annual events – the 25th Annual Sphinx Competition for Black and Latinx Musicians and the organization’s annual convocation, SphinxConnect – will take place virtually from Thursday, January 20 through Saturday, January 29. The events are the first in a year – long celebration of the 25th anniversary of the Sphinx, marking a quarter century of transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts.
Originally slated to be held in Detroit with in-person attendance, both will now be virtual-only due to uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 variant developments.
Sphinx President and Artistic Director Afa S. Dworkin said:
“We are extremely excited to offer meaningful content, co-curated with the vibrant members of the greater Sphinx community. As the epicenter of artists and diversity leaders, SphinxConnect is like a family reunion, a gathering of spirits and individuals who seek to forge alliances for our collective good. We are also thrilled to present the most promising young artists to compete for $100,000 in prizes and scholarships. The Sphinx Competition celebrates its 25th edition this year and it remains an integral part of our systemic work to center excellence and diversity in classical music.”
Semi-finals and finals of the 25th Annual Sphinx Competition – January 20 and 29
The Sphinx Competition is a national competition offering young black and Latinx classical string instrumentalists the opportunity to compete and perform under the guidance of an internationally renowned jury who, in addition to judging the competition, mentor the participants, including including masterclasses. The six finalists – three each from junior and senior divisions – will perform virtually and compete for a total of nearly $100,000 in prizes, including the $50,000 Robert Frederick Smith First Prize, second and third prizes, and the ” People’s choice”. awarded to a finalist in each category chosen by viewers via SMS. All semi-finalists and finalists also have access to scholarships and fine instruments through the Sphinx Music Assistance Fund.
For this virtual concert, the finalists will perform their concertos with a collaborating pianist submitted via video. Historically, all six Sphinx finalists from both divisions have performed live with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra at Orchestra Hall in Detroit.
The semi-finals will be streamed live by Sphinx via Facebook and The Violin Channel on Thursday, January 20. Performances for the 19 junior and senior semi-finalists will take place from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. ET. The results will be announced at 6:00 p.m.
The final concert will be broadcast live by Sphinx via sphinxmusic.org, YouTube and Facebook, Detroit Public Television and The Violin Channel on Saturday, January 29 at 7:00 p.m. ET presented by the DTE Foundation. The seven-judge panel for the 2022 Sphinx Competition includes: cellist Zuill Bailey, associate professor of violin at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theater and Dance, Danielle Belen, violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez, cellist Patrice Jackson, violinist Midori, bassist Laura Snyder, and violinist Melissa White. The jury includes four winners of the Sphinx Competition: Ms. Belen (2008), Mr. Hernandez (2006), Ms. Jackson (2002) and Ms. White (2001).
Senior Division Semi-Finalists
The 2022 Sphinx Competition (18-30) senior division semi-finalists are: Andres Ayerbe, cello (Houston, TX), Juan-Salvador Carrasco, cello (Los Angeles, CA), Kebra-Seyoun Charles, double bass ( Miami, FL), Gabriela Lara, violin (Venezuela), Jesus Linarez, violin (Venezuela), Thierry de Lucas Neves, violin (Goiânia, Goiás, Brazil), Harper Randolph, viola (Washington, DC), Alexandra Switala, violin ( Chicago, IL) and Santiago Vazquez-Loredo, violin (Hickory, NC).
The three chosen finalists in the senior division will compete for 1st place – $50,000 Robert Frederick Smith Prize and solo appearances with major orchestras; a 2nd place prize of $20,000 and a 3rd place prize of $10,000. Additionally, one finalist will receive a $5,000 People’s Choice Award.
Junior Division Semi-Finalists
The 2022 Sphinx Competition Junior Division Semifinalists (17 and under) are: Ian Barnett, violin (Key Biscayne, FL), Rebecca Beato, violin (Forest Hills, NY), Joseph Escobar, double bass (Katy, TX ), Ana Isabella España, violin (New York, NY), Maxwell Fairman, violin (Cincinnati, OH), Kearston Gonzales, violin (Hampton, VA), Brandon Leonard, cello (Stone Mountain, GA), Jonathan Okseniuk, violin ( Mesa, AZ), Nazeeh Shahid, viola (Chicago, IL), Jan Vargas Nedvetsky, cello (Wilmette, IL).
The three junior division finalists will compete for a top prize of $10,000, solo appearances with major orchestras and a nationally broadcast radio appearance on “From the Top”; a 2nd prize of $5,000 and a 3rd prize of $3,000. The finalist chosen for the “People’s Choice” award will receive $1,000.
SphinxConnect 2022: Forging Alliances – January 27-29
SphinxConnect will take place from Thursday January 27th to Saturday January 29th with over 70 speakers participating in over 20 sessions. complemented by plenary sessions with four innovative and exemplary artists. The opening plenary features Rhiannon Giddens, Grammy and MacArthur award-winning musician and artistic director of Silkroad, joined by Sphinx founder Aaron P. Dworkin in a personal and far-reaching conversation. They will talk about Ms. Giddens’ artistic journey, from her training as an opera singer, co-founder of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, to her current collaborations. They’ll also talk about how she grew into songwriting, acting, and leadership roles, and how all of those things, combined with her cultural background, guide her in her lifelong mission to uplift people. whose contributions to American musical history have already been erased and to work toward a more accurate understanding of the country’s musical origins.
The closing plenary speaker is Weston Sprott, Dean of the Preparatory Division of the Juilliard School and trombonist of the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, who will be interviewed by renowned pianist, curator and social activist Lara Downes. Mr. Sprott and Ms. Downes are alumni of several Sphinx programs and recipients of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence and the Sphinx Venture Fund. They will discuss Mr. Sprott’s background and his personal journey from musician to administration and higher education, what inspires him and how the pandemic has required finding new ways to collaborate and to innovate.
SphinxConnect sessions include topics such as “Young, Gifted and Bold: The Power of Emerging Leaders in Culture Change”, “Empowerment or Burden: A Dialogue Around the Burden of Today’s Diversity Leaders”, “Shame or Reframing? Balancing Activist and Collaborative Approaches to DE&I Online,” and “Winning the War on Education: Innovate or Perish,” among many others. Each of the sessions is in the form of a round table, led by one of the speakers. Registered viewers can participate in real time, submitting questions to panelists. The full schedule and program details are available online and below.
Registration for SphinxConnect includes a $150 general admission pass that grants access to all virtual events. There is also a paid registration option ranging from $0 to $150 that provides access to all sessions, offered to reduce any financial barriers to participation. Registration is available online at sphinxmusic.org.