Sphinx Finals Concert Celebrates Diversity

Detroit Free Press, February 9, 2012

Celebrating its 15th anniversary this week, the annual Sphinx Competition for black and Latino string players can look back on a track record of remarkable success and growth. Started on a shoestring by MacArthur Fellowship winner Aaron Dworkin to address the historic inequities of minorities in classical music, the competition has provided more than $1 million in prize money and scholarships, arranged hundreds of performance opportunities for its laureates with top American orchestras and reached more than 100,000 kids in schools and community centers.

The Sphinx Organization in Detroit has become one of the great driving forces for change in a field that desperately needs fresh ideas on every front. Beyond the competition—which culminates with Sunday’s finals concert featuring noted conductor Michael Morgan, the all-black and Latino professional Sphinx Symphony, Catalyst Quartet and competition laureates—Sphinx oversees an empire of education and residency programs, camps, an instrument fund, touring ensembles, music commissioning program and more.

While the numbers show that minorities still make up less than 5% of musicians in American orchestras, the Sphinx program is making a difference. Six competition alums have won jobs with major orchestras, and Sphinx programs are increasing the pool and visibility of minority musicians. {snip}



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  • Sphinx is a competition for black and Hispanic impresarios of the string section, yet it says they’re “celebrating diversity.”  The only way they can literally “celebrate diversity” is to let more Whites and asians into the contest.

  • Anonymous

    I guess all those Chinese Tiger Moms will have to kick it up a notch or two if they expect their kids to compete with D’Quanavious and LaQueeneesha for first chair in next years youth orchestra league.

  • 15 years and they’ve only placed 6 participants with orchestras? And that is a major success? And of those 6 orchestras, how many were cajoled or arm-twisted into acquiescing, how many did so out of white guilt or fear of repercussions?

    In other words, what’s the actual truth here? The question you always have to ask with any story about race in the mainstream media, because the one thing that is almost certain is that what is being reported is not exactly true.

  • Oil Can Harry

    I want to condemn the amren posters and the rest of white society for keeping black and Latino youth from their beloved classical music and opera.

    By perpetuating “the historic inequities of minorities in classical music” you racists have succeeded in keeping them away from their favorite music, forcing them to listen to rap and salsa against their will. 

    • .

      You remind me of a story a few months ago where retail stores were playing classical music to keep youths from loitering in the parking lots. Classical music is a youth repellant. Which is one of the reasons I crank up my Mozart at traffic lights. My woofers be thumpin’ yo.

      • Country music, especially old country music with a lot of “twang,” works better.  In the same glove compartment box as my pistol, and for the same reason, I have a CD of nothing but older and strategically chosen country music songs.  If I’m in one of those “situations” and it hasn’t risen to the level of deadly force being justified, I’m reaching for the CD, popping it in the stereo and cranking the volume sky high.

      • Oil Can Harry

        Many merchants do play classical music to repel black and brown “youfs”.

        By the same token some bar owners try to keep away blacks by only playing country in their establishments. Or metal. Or Irish folk music.

      • Anonymous

        I had a Bose system installed in my truck that plays my mp3 downloads, 12 inch speakers behind both seats and 8 inch speakers in the doors and an amp driving it all. When they pull up next to me with their car trunks rattling with bass I have an array of music from classical to Ac/Dc to Kenny Chesney and I sure oblige them with it as loud as even I can stand it. My friends ask me why I have it like that and I tell them that I’m bringing rock n roll back to the red light lol

    • Rocky Mountain

      But oddly enough classical music for youth is flourishing in, of all places, Venezuela!

      • Oil Can Harry

        Well, there are white Venezueleans.

        Likewise there are opera houses in Brazil, Mexico, Chile, etc. patronized by Latin Americans of European descent.

    • Yes, just like the subprime mortgages, record labels tricked them into making, producing and buying music that was bad for them.  I propose a 25 gigabuck settlement prorated to the families of every aspiring rapper that was murdered because his murderer was another aspiring rapper slash honor student slash athlete that happened to fall in with the wrong crowd.

  • Leftism is all about envy.  If you have it and I don;t its racism and unfair.

    If I have it and you dont its justice.

  • In other news, Vanilla Ice is making a comeback to address the historical inequities in gasta rap.

  • I remember reading a story about how stores play classical music to ward off undesirable loitering minorities from the premises.  Its been proven to work.  I wonder how many of these black and Latino “musicians” have the sudden urge to leave after finishing a song?

  • Anonymous

    I can’t wait for the headlines about shootings & riots at an all black symphony concert.

    “Ladies and gentlemen, tonight live at the Apollo – the Sphinx Symphony!!!! They gonna be all up in yo’ grill wit a pefomance of Mozart’s “Requiem” and a rendition of Rachmaninfff’s third piano concerto THAT’S OFF DA HOOK!!!!”

    “Did he just pull off a flawless solo from Franz Liszt’s “Piano Solo in B Minor??? OH NO HE DIDN”T!!!!”

  • Jerry Blondell

    According to a Chicago Tribune article from 2008:
    “Although minorities have made tremendous strides in many other fields,
    African-Americans and Latinos make up only 1.7 to 1.8 percent of
    professional American orchestras, according to the most recent survey by
    the League of American Orchestras”

  •  I’ve heard more than one minority state that they find politically correct liberalism far more insulting than outright bigotry. It’s easy to understand why. There is something so cloying, mawkish, and condescending about the whole PC mentality towards non-white culture.

     When you see stories like this one, it’s as if the left is stating that non-western cultures are, by definition, provincial, while the West has a Universal quality.  How else do you explain their obsession with elevating European traditions to this global stature where people of all backgrounds should participate equally? You don’t see them making the same assertions about Japanese culture, or Latin American.

    When you see past the obsequious butt-kissing of the left towards the non-western World, they’re actually far more bigoted than we are.

  • AlmostMusicPhD

    Sadly, you folks don’t seem to get it. This ‘replacement theology’ is not just in the field of orchestral musicians, it is in the field of Opera, as well as the PROFESSORS who inhabit/control/determine who gets in, and WHO DOESN’T in classical music. Having worked in a number of colleges and institutions ruled by Liberals, non-Whites, and anti-Christian tribes, I can attest that there is an organized methodology to DENY admittance/existence/advancement of ALL WHITES who have talent/brains/racial awareness, at all levels. What is worse, is that very rarely is someone of the caliber of ‘Yo-mama-ma’ going to rise to the top. And what about Whites who are denied constantly in favor of non-Europeans? Isn’t is OUR art forms? Aren’t WE the correct people to propagate OUR own MUSIC?

    Lord, have mercy.

  • Anonymous

    Do Sphinx Organisation orchestra’s have bongo drums?

  • Minorities interested in Classical music are mostly East Asians (Japanese, Koreans, Chinese, Vietnamese,..). South Asians- Indians & Pakistanis, very rarely. Personally, I’ve been a mediator when a Japanese guy from the Netherlands bought a violin from an acquaintance of mine.

    It’s a relief to comment on an article free from Asian-IQ lame supremacists & their lapdogs (nomina sunt odiosa) & say a word or two on a non-negligible global cultural phenomenon: East Asians are fascinated by European (and American, which partly derives from Europe) “high culture”- ballet, Classsical music, even great literature (among the most influential writers in Japan have been/are Shakespeare, Dostoevsky, Chekhov, Proust… especially Proust, with his gigantic work of illuminations through introspection). You got symphony orchestra in all major East Asian cities-and Indian, I think.

    Not so in Lagos or Nairobi.

    To draw a rough picture: Latin America is culturally European, even in countries emphatically anti-White. Muslim world isn’t, as a rule, much affected or interested in Western “high culture”. Blacks- Africa etc.- couldn’t care less. India- a mixed reaction, but not too enthusiastic. East Asia- crazy about Western “high culture” (music, literature, even philosophy (Heidegger), arts (Van Gogh, Michelangelo,..). Perhaps sensibilities of these old cultures has something to do with it.

    And Blacks ?

    Frankly, if I were Black, I would find all these folks, from DuPrez and Orlande de Lassus via Byrd and Bach and Elie Faure  to Bruckner and Stravinsky- utterly alien. Even Gershwin’s “Porgy and Bess” wouldn’t change my mind. Who cares about counterpoint, polyphony, the fugue, chromatic modulation ….too alien, too “White”.