Sphinx finals Saturday at Orchestra Hall

Michael H. Hodges
Detroit News Fine Arts Writer
The Sphinx Symphony Orchestra will perform Saturday evening at Detroit's Orchestra Hall.

It's one of the highlights of the annual classical-music calendar -- the Sphinx Competition finals, to be held Saturday evening at Detroit's Orchestra Hall, in which three superbly talented young classical musicians compete for a $50,000 top prize. 

The performance, said Sphinx President and Artistic Director Afa Dworkin, will feature the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra performing Leonard Bernstein’s "Candide Overture" and "Ballade" by the 19th-century black composer Samuel Coleridge Taylor. 

"Taylor hasn’t been played much at all," Dworkin said. "Many don’t know about him, but he was a fantastic composer -- prolific and extraordinarily gifted." 

Saturday's performance will be the culmination of three days of competition, as young black and Latino string players from across the U.S. compete before an internationally renowned panel of judges.

Musicians are divided into two age categories -- secondary school students, and those 18-30.

The three younger finalists will compete Friday, in a performance that's already overbooked. Senior-division finalists will take the stage Saturday at 7:30 p.m. Free tickets are still available (a $5 donation is suggested), but you must reserve seats at sphinxmusic.org

What each of the senior-division finalists will play, of course, has to wait until their selection in the semi-finals Thursday late afternoon. 

Also performing Saturday will be Sphinx's Exigence Ensemble, which like the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, is comprised of black and Latino professional musicians. 

The Sphinx Organization, founded by Afa Dworkin's husband Aaron in 1996, aims to boost minority minority representation in orchestras nationwide by sponsoring competitions, and reaching out to youngsters in under-served communities. 

The group has attracted considerable notice over the years. Just a week ago, a performance by four young Sphinx musicians -- Hannah White, Randall Goosby, Sterling Elliott, and Mira Williams -- closed out the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. 


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Sphinx Competition Finals Concert

Sat. Feb. 2, 7:30 p.m. 

Orchestra Hall, 3711 Woodward, Detroit

Tickets: Free with registration at sphinxmusic.org