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Sphinx Organization's 25th Annual Sphinx Competition & SphinxConnect: 'Forging Alliances' to be Presented Virtually

25th annual Sphinx Competition Junior and Senior Division Semi-Finals and Finals will be livestreamed on Thursday, January 20 at 11:00 a.m. ET and Saturday, January 29.

Sphinx Organization's 25th Annual Sphinx Competition & SphinxConnect: 'Forging Alliances' to be Presented Virtually

Two of the Sphinx Organization's flagship annual events-the 25th annual Sphinx Competition for Black and Latinx musicians and the organization's annual convening, SphinxConnect-will take place virtually Thursday, January 20 through Saturday, January 29. The events are the first in a year-long celebration of Sphinx's 25th anniversary, marking a quarter of a century of transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts.

Originally slated to be held in Detroit with in-person participation, both will now be virtual-only owing to uncertainty over the COVID-19 variant developments.

Sphinx President & Artistic Director Afa S. Dworkin said:

"We are tremendously excited to offer meaningful content, co-curated with the vibrant members of the greater Sphinx community. As the epicenter for artists and leaders in diversity, SphinxConnect is like a family reunion, a coming together of minds and individuals who are looking to forge alliances for our collective good. We are also excited to showcase the most promising young artists competing for $100,000 in prizes and scholarships. The Sphinx Competition is celebrating its 25th edition this year and it remains an integral part of our systemic work in centering excellence and diversity in classical music."

The 25th Annual Sphinx Competition Semi-Finals & Finals - January 20 & 29

The Sphinx Competition is a national competition offering young Black and Latinx classical string players an opportunity to compete and perform under the guidance of an internationally renowned panel of judges that, in addition to adjudicating the competition, mentors the participants including masterclasses. The six finalists-three each from the Junior and Senior divisions-will perform virtually and compete for a total of nearly $100,000 in prizes, including the top Robert Frederick Smith Prize of $50,000, second and third place prizes, and the "Audience Choice" prize given to one finalist in each category chosen by viewers via text. 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 collaborative pianist submitted by video. Historically, the six Sphinx finalists from both divisions have performed live with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra at Detroit's Orchestra Hall.

The semi-finals will be livestreamed by Sphinx via Facebook and The Violin Channel on Thursday, January 20. Performances by 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 finals concert will be livestreamed 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 2022 Sphinx Competition panel of seven judges comprises: cellist Zuill Bailey, Associate Professor of Violin at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance, Danielle Belen, violist Juan-Miguel Hernandez, cellist Patrice Jackson, violinist Midori, bassist Laura Snyder, and violinist Melissa White. The panel includes four Sphinx Competition laureates: Ms. Belen (2008), Mr. Hernandez (2006), Ms. Jackson (2002), and Ms. White (2001).

Senior Division Semi-Finalists

The 2022 Sphinx Competition Senior Division Semi-Finalists (Ages 18 - 30) 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 finalists chosen from the Senior Division will compete for the 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 an "Audience Choice" prize of $5,000.

Junior Division Semi-Finalists

The 2022 Sphinx Competition Junior Division Semi-Finalists (Ages 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 finalists from the Junior Division will compete for a 1st place prize of $10,000, solo appearances with major orchestras and a nationally-broadcast radio appearance on "From the Top;" a 2nd place prize of $5,000, and a 3rd place prize of $3,000. The finalist chosen for the "Audience Choice" award will receive $1,000.

SphinxConnect 2022: Forging Alliances - January 27 - 29

SphinxConnect will take place Thursday, January 27 through Saturday, January 29 with more than 70 speakers participating in over 20 sessions. bookended by plenary sessions with four innovative and exemplary artists. The opening plenary session features Grammy and MacArthur Award-winning musician and Artistic Director of Silkroad, Rhiannon Giddens, joined by Sphinx's Founder, Aaron P. Dworkin, in a wide-reaching and personal conversation. They will talk about Ms. Giddens' artistic journey, from her training as an opera singer, co-founding the Carolina Chocolate Drops, to her current collaborations. They will also talk about how she has expanded into composing, acting, and leadership roles, and how all of these things-combined with her cultural background-guide her in her lifelong mission to lift up people whose contributions to American musical history have previously been erased, and to work toward a more accurate understanding of the country's musical origins.

The closing plenary session speaker is Weston Sprott, Dean of the Preparatory Division at The Juilliard School and a trombonist in the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra, who will be interviewed by acclaimed pianist, curator, and social activist Lara Downes. Mr. Sprott and Ms. Downes are alumni of multiple Sphinx programs and recipients of the Sphinx Medal of Excellence and the Sphinx Venture Fund. They will discuss Mr. Sprott's background and personal pathway from musician to administration and higher education, what inspires him, and how the pandemic has required finding new ways to collaborate and innovate.

SphinxConnect sessions include such topics as "Young, Gifted, and Bold: The Power of Emerging Leaders in Culture Change," "Empowerment or Burden: a dialogue surrounding the charge of today's diversity officers," "Shame or Reframe? Balancing activist vs collaborative approaches to DE&I online," and "Winning the War on Education: Innovate or Perish" among many others. Each of the sessions is a roundtable discussion format, moderated by one of the speakers. Registered viewers can participate in real-time, submitting questions for the panelists. Full schedule and program details are available online and below.

Registration for SphinxConnect includes a $150 General Admission pass that allows access to all the virtual events. There is also a pay-what-you-wish registration option ranging from $0-$150 that provides access to all sessions, offered to reduce any financial barrier to participating. Registration is available online at sphinxmusic.org.



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