Sphinx Virtuosi to Perform Works by Black and Latino Artists at Carnegie Hall on October 13

The Sphinx Virtuosi – the self-directed chamber orchestra of eighteen black and Latino classical soloists that serves as the flagship performing entity of the Sphinx organization – will make its annual appearance at Carnegie Hall on Thursday, October 13 at 7 p.m. with a program entirely composed and/or arranged by black and Latino artists entitled “Songs For Our Times”. The gala concert is part of the Sphinx Organization’s 25th anniversary season and features new works co-commissioned by Sphinx and Carnegie Hall from Valerie Coleman and Jessie Montgomery, as well as a world premiere commissioned by Sphinx from Xavier Foley.

“Since its inception in 2004, this exceptional ensemble of dedicated and talented soloists has been one of the jewels in the crown of the Sphinx. The fact that the Sphinx Virtuosi have become an established and acclaimed feature of the fall season programming of Carnegie Hall was a milestone in the 25-year journey of The Sphinx,” says Sphinx President and Artistic Director Afa S. Dworkin. “This year’s program of premieres and performances by members of our extended Sphinx ‘familia’ truly encapsulates our global mission to transform lives through the power of diversity in the arts. We invite all music lovers to come experience the excitement and energy of the ‘Songs for Our Times’ program that not only recognizes how far we’ve come and celebrates where we are now, but also anticipates a rich and diverse future.”

The program opens with Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9 by Heitor Villa-Lobos, followed by the New York premiere of Tracing Visions by Valerie Coleman, a powerful parental statement that children of color have the right to grow up safe and healthy. have genius in them. realized. Composed at the time of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Coleman says the piece has expanded to become a voice for collective grief. Fourteen-year-old violinist Amaryn Olmeda will next make her Carnegie Hall debut performing Carlos Simon’s solo violin work Between Worlds, a piece inspired by black visual artist Bill Traylor, who was born a slave in Alabama in 1853 and died in 1949. , living long enough. to see the country going through many social and political changes. Simon received the Sphinx’s highest honor, the Sphinx Medal of Excellence, in 2021 and is currently Composer-in-Residence at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Olmeda was the first winner of the Junior Division of the 2021 Sphinx Competition and was recently announced as an inaugural member of the San Francisco Conservatory of Music and the Opus 3 Young Artist Program, making her the youngest member of the list of the management agency.

The “Songs for Our Times” program continues with the New York premiere of Jessie Montgomery’s Divided for solo cello and orchestra with Sphinx Virtuosi Principal Cellist and 2023 Sphinx Medal of Excellence recipient Thomas Mesa as soloist. Divided is a response to social and political unrest, particularly the sense of helplessness that people seem to feel amidst a world that seems to be in constant crisis, whether because of racial injustice, religious discrimination , greed and poverty or climate change. He asks how to regain control and find beauty in chaos? How can we stack the good deeds on the negative reactions that easily emerge from conflict? Divided continues Montgomery’s long association with Sphinx. A two-time winner of the Sphinx Competition (she is also a violinist), Montgomery was the first female composer to receive the Sphinx Medal of Excellence in 2020. She was the first Sphinx Virtuosi Composer-in-Residence in 2012 and her Sphinx-the work The Banner commission composed in 2014 to celebrate The Star-Spangled Banner’s 200th anniversary and described by The New York Times as “an urgent and inventive piece” has featured in Sphinx Virtuosi’s touring schedules.

Divided will be followed by the world premiere of An Ode to Our Times commissioned especially for the Carnegie Hall concert by fellow Sphinx winner and 2018 Avery Fisher Prize winner, bassist Xavier Foley who will also perform as a soloist on the works alongside fellow award-winning violinist Hannah. White. It was written as a tribute to the courage and promise of black and Latino artists and to the work of Sphinx on behalf of these communities. The concert ends with Beethoven’s Finale from Violin Sonata No. 9 in A major, Op. 47, “Bridgetower” arranged for string orchestra by violinist Sphinx Virtuosi and winner of the 2018 competition Rubén Rengel.

The gala concert, which is open to the public with tickets starting at $25 and available now, will be followed by the Sphinx Organization’s 25th Anniversary Gala honoring founder Aaron P. Dworkin. The Carnegie Hall concert is part of a nationwide tour by Sphinx Virtuosi that will conclude with the ensemble’s international premiere at Sala São Paulo in Brazil on Monday, October 24.

Thursday, October 13 at 7 p.m. ET
Carnegie Hall
Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage

Virtuoso Sphinx
Amaryn Olmeda, violin
Hannah White, violin
Thomas Mesa, cello
Xavier Foley, bass

VILLA-LOBOS Bachianas Brasileiras No. 9
VALERIE COLEMAN** Tracing Visions (New York Premiere)
CARLOS SIMON Between the worlds
Amaryn Olmeda, violin
JESSIE MONTGOMERY *** Divided (New York Premiere)
Thomas Mesa, cello
XAVIER FOLEY* An Ode to Our Time (World Premiere)
Xavier Foley, double bass
Hannah White, violin
BEETHOVEN Finale from Sonata for Violin and Piano No. 9 in A major, Op. 47, “Bridgetower” (arr. for string orchestra by Rubén Rengel)

* Commanded by Sphinx
** Co-commissioned by Sphinx, New World Symphony and Carnegie Hall; Carnegie Hall – New York premiere.
*** Co-commissioned by Sphinx, New World Symphony and Carnegie Hall with additional support from Keith and Renata Ward Family Fund at the Miami Foundation; Carnegie Hall – New York premiere.

The Sphinx Virtuosi is a self-directed, dynamic and inspiring professional chamber orchestra. Comprised of eighteen accomplished Black and Latino artists, Sphinx Virtuosi’s core purpose is to evolve and transform the face of classical music through artistic excellence, pioneering programming and passionate community engagement. Its members serve as cultural and diversity ambassadors for audiences and communities across the United States on national tours.

Since 2004, Sphinx Virtuosi concerts have been presented by major arts organizations, including annual return visits to Carnegie Hall where it is an established highlight of the fall season. Frequently sold out, the ensemble received rave reviews, including from The New York Times which described the band as “…top notch…more essential than ever right now…a vibrant, assured performance.” … .”; and the Washington Post who wrote “true to their name, the Sphinx Virtuosi evokes the vision of an iconic mythological feline with its immeasurable power, unwavering command and moving beauty”.

Heralded for its kaleidoscopically varied repertoire and bold thematic programming, the Sphinx Virtuosi concerts feature historically excluded Black and Latino composers such as Samuel Coleridge-Taylor, Alberto Ginastera, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, Florence Price, Heitor Villa-Lobos and George Walker. In order to expand its repertoire and attract new audiences, the ensemble commissions new works every year. Commissions have included major new works by Michael Abels, Terence Blanchard, Valerie Coleman, Xavier Foley, Jimmy Lopez, Jessie Montgomery, Daniel Bernard Roumain and Carlos Simon.

Members of Sphinx Virtuosi have performed as soloists with major American orchestras including the Atlanta Symphony, Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony, Philadelphia Orchestra, Pittsburgh Symphony and Seattle Symphony. Members also hold professional and academic orchestral positions. Sphinx Virtuosi’s community engagement initiatives regularly extend beyond masterclasses and workshops to members leading DEI initiatives within arts organizations and connecting with other Sphinx programs to advance the mission of achieving excellence through diversity. As a bilingual ensemble, these citizen-artists frequently break down existing barriers allowing the art form to connect with the wider community. During the 2020-2021 pandemic, the ensemble has found creative ways to connect virtually with audiences and communities through performances, panel discussions, masterclasses, Q&A sessions and more, reaching more than 30,000 people in 20 organizations.

The Sphinx Virtuosi has collaborated with major artists such as Terence Blanchard, J’Nai Bridges, Denyce Graves, Will Liverman, Damien Sneed, Sweet Honey in the Rock and Davóne Tines, among others. Outside of the classical realm, its musicians have also worked with top international artists such as Beyoncé and Jay-Z, and made high-profile appearances including The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon and the 2022 Grammy Awards broadcast. In October 2022, the ensemble will make its international debut at Sala São Paulo in Brazil.

Sphinx Virtuosi Tours are made possible through support from Robert F. Smith, JPMorgan Chase, and National Endowment for the Arts.

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 all levels: music education, artists on stage, the repertoire and programming being performed, the communities represented in the audience, and the artistic and administrative direction of the estate. Sphinx programs reach more than 100,000 students and performers, as well as a live and broadcast audience of more than two million people annually. Learn more about Sphinx’s programs at SphinxMusic.org. Check out the “Sphinx Organization: A 25-year Journey” timeline here.