Sphinx Virtuosi Embark On Spring 2024 U.S. Tour

The Sphinx Virtuosi comprise 18 of the nation's top Black and Latinx classical soloists, primarily alumni of the internationally renowned Sphinx Competition.

By: Feb. 22, 2024
Sphinx Virtuosi Embark On Spring 2024 U.S. Tour
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The Sphinx Virtuosi - a self-conducted string orchestra will embark on a spring U.S. tour of their program Generations from March 1, 2024 - April 29, 2024.

The Sphinx Virtuosi comprise 18 of the nation's top Black and Latinx classical soloists, primarily alumni of the internationally renowned Sphinx Competition, representing the nation's most dynamic and exhilarating professional chamber orchestra dedicated to increasing racial and ethnic diversity in classical music.

This spring, the Sphinx Virtuosi will be presented on Friday, March 1, 2024 at 7:30pm at the Arthur Zankel Music Center at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY; Sunday, March 3, 2024 at 1:30pm at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston, MA; Saturday, March 9, 2024 at 7:30pm in Dallas, presented by the Dallas Symphony Orchestra; Wednesday, March 13, 2024 at 7:30pm at Bing Concert Hall in Stanford, CA; Friday, March 15, 2024 at 7:30pm at the Lobero Theatre, Santa Barbara, CA for Community Arts Music Association's Masterseries; Wednesday, March 20, 2024 at 7:30pm, presented by the Newman Center for the Performing Arts and Friends of Chamber Music; Friday, March 22, 2024 at 7:30pm at the Suzuki Association of the Americas/American String Teachers Association conference at the Kentucky International Convention Center in Louisville, KY; Friday, April 12, 2024 at 6:00pm at St. John School of the Arts in St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Saturday, April 13, 2024 at 6:30pm at The Forum in St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands.

On three other dates, the Sphinx Virtuosi perform modified versions of Generations. On Saturday, March 2, 2024 at 7:30pm at Peoples' Symphony Concerts in New York City, the ensemble performs a shortened version of the program closing with the fourth movement of Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson's Sinfonietta No. 2, "Generations" (Allegro Vivace). In a performance on Tuesday, April 23, 2024 at 7:30pm, presented by the New World Symphony in Miami, they perform this modified program with the addition of chamber music selections by composers Jonathan Bailey Holland, Miguel del Aguila, and Osvaldo Golijov. On Monday, April 29 at 7:30pm at the Gilmore International Piano Festival in Kalamazoo, MI, they perform all selections from the standard Generations program, with the addition of Samuel Coleridge-Taylor's Piano Quintet No. 1 in G minor, featuring pianist Awadagin Pratt alongside four of the Sphinx Virtuosi's principal players.

Inspired by the poetry of Langston Hughes and Julia Alvarez, Generations showcases the beauty and tradition of excellence inherent in classical music created and performed by Black and Latinx composers for many generations. Sphinx seeks to uplift spirits through sharing the sounds that inspire us and transcend the boundaries of time, history and struggle.

The program opens with Quenton Blache's Habari Gani, which owes its name to the Swahili greeting exchanged during the celebration of Kwanzaa. In the composer's words, this orchestral showpiece expresses "ideals of unity and fellowship where rhythm and dance lithely soar throughout." Emphasizing the number five in its composition (through both its meter and its use of the pentatonic scale), Habari Gani springs forward like chatter of the latest news in a sub-Saharan community.

Javier Farias' Abran Paso - meaning "Make way!" - evokes a scene of slick, confident dancers on a dance floor, boldly calling for others to leave space for them to show off their signature moves. In this work, Farias infuses the tango genre with the music and rhythms of his native Chile, while translating quintessential Chilean guitar tones to the strings of an orchestra.

In crafting Herencia for String Orchestra, composer Andrea Casarrubios specifically "envisioned the remarkable musicians of Sphinx Virtuosi taking the stage... each with a unique history trailing behind." Through this piece, listeners are encouraged to reflect on their roots, bringing to mind a shared intention to illuminate the world through music.

In Coleridge Taylor Perkinson's Sinfonietta No. 2, "Generations," the inspiration for the program title, the composer dedicates each of four movements to a member of his family, incorporating jazz influences through varied movements inspired, respectively, by his daughter, by the women of his immediate family, by his grandson, and by his family's patriarchs.

Adolphus Hailstork's Sonata da Chiesa is a piece that spans generations stylistically, weaving a unique harmonic language with the reverent tonal counterpoint of the 17th Century. Choosing to title the movements of this sonata using the standard choral liturgy, Hailstork ingeniously portrays the cathedrals, with their towering stone walls encompassing expansive chordal voicing through this fascinating work.

Xavier Foley's Concertante for Two Double Basses and String Orchestra, "Galaxy" showcases the virtuosic star quality of the instrument, featuring Foley and bassist Kebra-Seyoun Charles as soloists. The Concertante defies the stereotypes of traditional double bass repertoire, inviting audiences to explore the bass's full range of possibilities.

Hailed as "topnotch" by The New York Times, the Sphinx Virtuosi were introduced to a global stage via the July 2023 release of their debut album, Songs for Our Times, on Deutsche Grammophon. The release features works by outstanding composers and artistic visionaries of color Michael Abels, Aldemaro Romero, Valerie Coleman, Carlos Simon, Florence Price, Jessie Montgomery and Ricardo Herz, plus a new Beethoven arrangement by Rubén Rengel.

Founded by violinist, social entrepreneur and poet/journalist Aaron P. Dworkin in 1996, and now led by violinist and educator Afa Dworkin (its President and Artistic Director), the Sphinx Organization is a non-profit social justice enterprise dedicated to increasing representation of Black and Latinx artists in classical music, recognizing artistic excellence and transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. The Sphinx Virtuosi champion these aims and ideals and are passionate about undertaking widespread outreach and engagement work as they tour the United States and beyond.

Program Information

Friday, March 1, 2024 at 7:30pm
Mosaic Music Series
Arthur Zankel Music Center | Saratoga Springs, NY
Link: www.saratoga.com/event/the-sphinx-virtuosi-247324/

Saturday, March 2, 2024 at 7:30pm
Sphinx Virtuosi at Peoples' Symphony Concerts
Washington Irving Campus | New York, NY
Link: www.pscny.org/sphinx

Sunday, March 3, 2024 at 1:30pm
Sphinx Virtuosi, Part of the Weekend Concert Series
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum | Boston, MA
Link: www.gardnermuseum.org/calendar/sphinx-virtuosi-0

Saturday, March 9, 2024 at 7:30pm
An Evening with Sphinx Virtuosi
Dallas Symphony Orchestra | Dallas, TX
Link: www.dallassymphony.org/productions/an-evening-with-sphinx-virtuosi/

Wednesday, March 13, 2024 at 7:30pm
Sphinx Virtuosi at Stanford Live
Bing Concert Hall | Stanford, CA
Link: https://live.stanford.edu/calendar/march-2024/sphinx-virtuosi

Friday, March 15, 2024 at 7:30pm
CAMA's Masterseries presents Sphinx Virtuosi
Lobero Theatre | Santa Barbara, CA
Link: www.camasb.org/masterseries-2023-2024/#2024-03-15

Wednesday, March 20, 2024 at 7:30pm
Friends of Chamber Music
The Robert and Judi Newman Center for the Performing Arts | Denver, CO
Link: https://newmancenterpresents.com/performances/newman-center-presents/sphinx-virtuosi

Friday, March 22, 2024 at 7:30pm
Evening Concert with Sphinx and Suzuki Association of the Americas
Kentucky International Convention Center (KICC) | Louisville, KY
Link: https://suzukiassociation.org/events/24saaconference/

Friday, April 12, 2024 at 6:30pm
Evening Concert with Sphinx
St. John School of the Arts | St. John, US Virgin Islands
Link: www.stjohnschoolofthearts.org/events-2-1/event-three-rp6r7-4yamd-lenc5-k2c6l

Saturday, April 13, 2024 at 8:00pm
Sphinx Virtuosi at The Forum
The Forum | St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Link: www.theforumusvi.org/season2022-2023

Tuesday, April 23, 2024 at 7:30pm
Sphinx Virtuosi at New World Symphony
Michael Tilson Thomas Performance Hall, and James L. Knight Foundation Stage | Miami, FL
Link: www.nws.edu/events-tickets/concerts/2023-2024/sphinx-virtuosi-generations/#/about

Monday, April 29, 2024 at 7:30pm
Sphinx Virtuosi at Gilmore International Piano Festival (with Awadagin Pratt)
Chenery Auditorium | Kalamazoo, MI
Link: www.thegilmore.org/event/sphinx-virtuosi-with-awadagin-pratt/

Program:
Quenton Blache - Habari Gani*
Javier Farias - Abran Paso*
Andrea Casarrubios - Herencia for String Orchestra*
Adolphus Hailstork - "Dona Nobis Pacem" and "Exultate" from Sonata da Chiesa
Xavier Foley - Concertante for Two Double Basses and String Orchestra, "Galaxy"*
Xavier Foley, double bass
Kebra-Seyoun Charles, double bass
Coleridge Taylor Perkinson - Sinfonietta No. 2, "Generations"

*new work for Sphinx Virtuosi

About Sphinx Organization

The Sphinx Organization is the social justice organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Sphinx's four program areas - Education & Access, Artist Development, Performing Artists, and Arts Leadership - form a pipeline that develops and supports diversity and inclusion in classical music at every level: music education, artists performing on stage, the repertoire and programming being performed, the communities represented in audiences, and the artistic and administrative leadership within the field. Sphinx programs reach more than 100,000 students and artists, as well as live and broadcast audiences of more than two million annually, with an overall digital reach of 60 million. The organization has invested more than $11M in the careers of Black and Latinx artists through its work with 375 partners worldwide. Read more about Sphinx's programs at www.sphinxmusic.org.

*Photo Credit: Scott Jackson




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