Sphinx Organization (Detroit, MI)

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Close up of a young monan, her eyes closed playing her instrument

Kaila Potts wins First Place in the Senior Division Laureate of the 2004 Sphinx Competition for her viola performance. Photo by Glenn Triest

The Sphinx Organization of Detroit, Michigan is dedicated to building diversity in classical music by developing the classical music talent in African American and Latino youth. Sphinx also holds the annual Sphinx Competition, in which young African American and Latino string players compete, mentored by members of the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, a unique all African American and Latino orchestra comprised of top professionals from around the country.

In FY 2004, the Sphinx Organization received an NEA Creativity grant of $60,000 to support the artistic development of the Sphinx Symphony and the 2004 Sphinx Competition. The symphony includes past and current members from major U.S. symphonies, as well as faculty members of leading music institutions, including Peabody and New England Conservatories, Harlem School of the Arts, Rutgers University, and the University of Michigan. During performances, the symphony promotes works by African American and Latino composers.

Members of the symphony devoted themselves to the mentoring and education of minority youth string players through providing master classes and lectures. In 2004, 18 participants were selected to participate in the competition held from February 18-22, 2004.

The Honors Concert featured the three Junior Laureate winners accompanied by the Sphinx Symphony, and the Finals Concert featured the three Senior Laureates and the Junior Division winner Trevor Ochieng along with the symphony and guest artist violinist Sanford Allen. Sphinx is facilitating performances of the Laureates with more than 20 orchestras nationwide, including Boston, Atlanta, Chicago, Detroit, St. Louis, and Seattle.

(From the 2004 NEA Annual Report)