The Sphinx is 6 years old — not the enigmatic oracle in Egypt, but the renowned Detroit competition for young black and Latino classical musicians produced by the hard-working outfit of the same name. Incorporated in 1996, the Sphinx Organization was able to put together its first competition by 1998, with a focus on rewarding players of string instruments (violin, viola and cello) with recognition and support. However, the get-together — held Feb. 11-19 this year in Ann Arbor and Detroit — immersed the teen and twentysomething semifinalists in a lot more than rivalry.
Sphinx is dedicated to promoting talent and furthering careers, granting scholarships and opening doors that have traditionally been closed. In its relatively brief existence, the project has received the support of such renowned musicians as Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Isaac Stern and Andre Previn, and has been honored with guest appearances by, among others, Branford Marsalis, Take 6 and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.
But the wonder isn’t how founder-president Aaron Dworkin and cohorts manage to keep their brainchild afloat. The wonder is in the young players themselves: These unlikely products of our culture of glitz and endless distraction display a devotion to their art — and reserves of hard work and persistence — that are inspiring to listeners young and old.
Check out the cover story on the Sphinx.
Check out the inspirationbehind the competition.George Tysh is the Metro Times arts editor. E-mail [email protected]