Sphinx Virtuosi Returns to Carnegie Hall with Music Exploring Themes of Justice and Peace on Friday, October 11
Program Features Premieres by Damien Sneed and Xavier Foley, Plus Works by Michael Abels, Schubert, and Bartók
Sphinx Virtuosi Kicks off National US Tour on September 29
Sphinx Virtuosi, one of the country’s most dynamic chamber ensembles, comprised of eighteen top Black and Latinx classical soloists from across the country, returns to Carnegie Hall on Friday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m. in Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage. As part of The Sphinx Organization—a Detroit-based national organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts—the self-conducted collective presents For Justice and Peace, a performance exploring the role both artists and citizens can play in propelling peace and positivity.
This timely program—part of the group’s fourteen-city US tour—includes Michael Abels’ Global Warming which speaks to the environmental crisis around the world while celebrating diverse cultures, and Philip Herbert’s moving string Elegy: In Memoriam—Stephen Lawrence memorializing a teenage victim of racial violence. Also featured will be the New York premiere of For Justice and Peace for Violin, Bass, and String Orchestra by Xavier Foley, a work co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall as part of its 125 Commissions Project featuring the composer, a member of the Sphinx Virtuosi, as a soloist as well. A program highlight will be the world premiere of Damien Sneed’s "Our Journey: 400 Years from Africa to Jamestown" from We Shall Overcome, a new arrangement of music drawn from the opening of Sneed’s opera. For this work, the Sphinx Virtuosi will be joined by three soloists who are all recipients of Sphinx’s Medal of Excellence—mezzo-soprano J’Nai Bridges, baritone Will Liverman, and the composer, Damien Sneed, at the piano—as well as the Chorale Le Chateau.
Throughout 2019, Carnegie Hall is proud to participate in 400 Years of Inequality, a nationwide initiative exploring the ongoing repercussions of slavery and inequality and the ways these forces shape our lives today. The initiative marks the 400th Anniversary of the arrival of the first Africans to be sold into bondage in North America in 1619 at Jamestown. In addition to the Sphinx Virtuosi performance, Carnegie Hall’s participation includes a performance at Brooklyn Public Library on Sunday afternoon, November 17 by the Catalyst Quartet, part of the free Carnegie Hall Citywide concert series, as well as additional talks and workshops presented with partner organizations.
The Sphinx Virtuosi is one of the nation’s most dynamic professional chamber orchestras. Comprised of 18 of the nation’s top Black and Latinx classical soloists, primarily alumni of the internationally renowned Sphinx Competition, these artists come together each fall as cultural ambassadors to reach new audiences. This unique ensemble earned rave reviews from The New York Times during its highly-acclaimed Carnegie Hall debut in December 2004 when critic Allan Kozinn described their performance as “first-rate in every way,” touting the ensemble’s “beautiful, precise and carefully shaped sound.” The Sphinx Virtuosi have since returned to Carnegie Hall annually, also embarking on annual national tours to many of the leading music venues around the country.
Inspired by Sphinx’s overarching mission, the Sphinx Virtuosi work to advance diversity in classical music while engaging young and new audiences through performances of varied repertoire. Masterpieces by Bach, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, and Mozart are performed alongside the more seldom presented works by composers of color, including Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, George Walker, Michael Abels, and Astor Piazzolla, among others. Members of the Sphinx Virtuosi have performed as soloists with America's major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland and Philadelphia orchestras, and the Detroit, Atlanta, Seattle, and Pittsburgh symphony orchestras. Members also hold professional orchestral positions, and several have been named laureates of other prestigious international competitions, including the Queen Elizabeth and Yehudi Menuhin. Roster members have completed and continue to pursue their advanced studies at the nation’s top music schools, including The Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, Eastman School of Music, Peabody Institute, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan. The Sphinx Virtuosi’s first recording was released in 2011 on the White Pine label and features music of Mendelssohn, Sibelius, Gabriela Lena Frank and George Walker.
About the Sphinx Organization: Now in its 22nd year of championing Black and Latinx classical musicians across the nation and globally, the Sphinx Organization is dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. The Sphinx ethos lies at the intersection of social justice and the arts, driving industry-leading programs spanning education initiatives, annual competition and scholarships, professional performance opportunities, and leadership training and career development. From the beginning violin students in Detroit and Flint elementary schools to the extraordinary recipients of the $50,000 Sphinx Medals of Excellence, Sphinx empowers musicians of color to succeed onstage and off. Visit SphinxMusic.org for more information.
Friday, October 11 at 7:00 p.m.
Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
J’Nai Bridges, Mezzo-Soprano
Will Liverman, Baritone
Damien Sneed, Piano
Chorale Le Chateau
FOR JUSTICE AND PEACE
MICHAEL ABELS Global Warming
BÉLA BARTÓK Divertimento for Strings
PHILIP HERBERT Elegy: In Memoriam - Stephen Lawrence
XAVIER FOLEY For Justice and Peace for Violin, Bass, and String Orchestra (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)
FRANZ SCHUBERT Presto from String Quartet in D Minor, D. 810, "Death and the Maiden" (arr. for string orchestra by Mahler)
DAMIEN SNEED "Our Journey: 400 Years from Africa to Jamestown" from We Shall Overcome (World Premiere)
Support for the 125 Commissions Project is provided by members of Carnegie Hall's Composer Club.
In honor of the centenary of his birth, Carnegie Hall’s 2019–2020 season is dedicated to the memory of Isaac Stern in recognition of his extraordinary contributions to Carnegie Hall, arts advocacy, and the field of music.
The Sphinx Virtuosi performance and gala is made possible with lead support from JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Robert F. Smith.
Bank of America is the Proud Season Sponsor of Carnegie Hall.
Photo at top of release by Kevin Kennedy
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