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CARNEGIE HALL PRESENTS

Sphinx Virtuosi

For Justice and Peace
Friday, October 11, 2019 7 PM Stern Auditorium / Perelman Stage
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Sphinx Virtuosi by Kevin Kennedy
The musicians of the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization perform a timely program in conjunction with the nationwide 400 Years of Inequality initiative. Damien Sneed’s “Our Journey: 400 Years from Africa to Jamestown”—from his opera We Shall Overcome—explores the plight of Africans forced into slavery with musical styles from the African American diaspora, while Michael Abels’s Global Warming celebrates diverse cultures. There’s also Philip Herbert’s moving string piece memorializing a teenage victim of racial violence, a new work by Xavier Foley co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, and classics by Schubert and Bartók.

Part of: Four Hundred Years of Inequality

Performers

Sphinx Virtuosi
J’Nai Bridges, Mezzo-Soprano
Will Liverman, Baritone
Damien Sneed, Piano
Chorale Le Chateau

Program

ROMERO Fuga con pajarillo

BARTÓK Allegro assai from Divertimento for Strings

PHILIP HERBERT Elegy: In Memoriam—Stephen Lawrence

MICHAEL ABELS Global Warming

XAVIER FOLEY For Justice and Peace for Violin, Bass, and String Orchestra (NY Premiere, co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall)

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)

Event Duration

The printed program will last approximately 75 minutes with no intermission.

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

At a Glance

Justice and peace find their way into music without regard to time or place. Michael Abels’s Global Warming speaks to not only the well-being of our planet, but expresses a hopeful outlook on global relations and transcending cultural differences. Bartók, who was destined to leave his native Hungary for the US, was looking for peace and solace during a challenging time in his homeland as World War II approached while writing his Divertimento for Strings. In his Elegy: In Memoriam—Stephen Lawrence, British composer Philip Herbert looks to solace when justice could not be served for an 18-year-old Stephen Lawrence, whose life was lost to a tragic incident of violence. Xavier Foley’s For Justice and Peace pays tribute to some of the divisiveness today, while also offering light and hope. Even Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden” Quartet, written only a few short years after the composer’s arrest due to rebellious behavior toward authorities, suggests the most unlikely use of power and protest. “Our Journey: 400 Years from Africa to Jamestown” from We Shall Overcome highlights the plight of Africans forced into slavery and transported during the arduous Middle Passage to the coasts of the Americas. In the end, as a listener, you decide the role both artists and citizens can play in propelling peace and positivity.

Bios

Sphinx Virtuosi

Since being founded in 2004, the Sphinx Virtuosi has distinguished itself as the most diverse professional chamber orchestra in the country. The dynamism in this ensemble’s approach ...

Since being founded in 2004, the Sphinx Virtuosi has distinguished itself as the most diverse professional chamber orchestra in the country. The dynamism in this ensemble’s approach to music making offers an experience of unmatched vibrancy for seasoned and new audiences alike. Eighteen of the nation’s top Black and Latinx classical soloists, these artists tour annually as cultural ambassadors to communities far and wide.

This unique, self-conducted ensemble has earned rave reviews from The New York Times, The Washington Post, Chicago Sun-Times, and beyond. After making its Carnegie Hall debut in 2004, the Sphinx Virtuosi has returned annually since 2006, performing to sold-out halls and earning outstanding reviews. A bridge between communities of color and the classical music establishment, the Sphinx Virtuosi continues to garner critical acclaim on annual national tours to many leading venues across the country. Inspired by the Sphinx Organization’s overarching mission of transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts, the Sphinx Virtuosi works to advance the social impact of music upon our greater society.

Dedicated to new music, the ensemble has pioneered the discovery of gems by composers of color, with the aim of expanding the canon and amplifying new and important voices. Collaborations with composers—including Michael Abels, Kareem Roustom, Jimmy Lopez, Gabriela Lena Frank, Jessie Montgomery, Daniel Bernard Roumain, Terence Blanchard, and Xavier Foley—are among many exciting highlights. Masterworks by Shostakovich, Bartók, Schubert, John Adams, Bach, and Mozart are often woven into the carefully curated programs, which combine risk, exploration, and homage. The ensemble has also collaborated with Denyce Graves, Sweet Honey In The Rock, Joshua Bell, Pinchas Zukerman, the Chicago Children’s Choir, Damien Sneed, and others.

As individual artists, members of the Sphinx Virtuosi have performed as soloists with America’s major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, The Cleveland Orchestra, Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, The Philadelphia Orchestra, Seattle Symphony, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. They are graduates of the nation’s top music schools, including The Juilliard School, Curtis Institute of Music, Cleveland Institute of Music, and Eastman School of Music. The Sphinx Virtuosi is passionate about empowering the next generation of artists and audiences, building interactive, bilingual (English and Spanish) programs and working with schools in underrepresented communities.

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J’Nai Bridges

J’Nai Bridges has been heralded as a rising star, gracing the world’s top stages. Her 2019–2020 operatic engagements in the US include her debut at The Metropolitan Opera,  ...

J’Nai Bridges has been heralded as a rising star, gracing the world’s top stages. Her 2019–2020 operatic engagements in the US include her debut at The Metropolitan Opera, singing the role of Nefertiti in Akhnaten, and her house and role debut at Washington National Opera as Dalila in Samson et Dalila. Ms. Bridges sings the title role of Carmen at the Dutch National Opera and makes her debut at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence, singing the role of Margret in a new production of Wozzeck, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle.

Ms. Bridges opens her season with her debut at the Tanglewood Festival, performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She continues her concert performances with the San Antonio Symphony in Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony and debuts with the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra in Handel’s Messiah. Ms. Bridges also performs an art song recital with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society and closes her season by making her debut as part of the BBC Proms at Royal Albert Hall in Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with Chineke! Orchestra. Ms. Bridges was a 2018 Sphinx Medal of Excellence honoree.

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Will Liverman

After a successful debut as Malcolm Fleet in Nico Muhly’s Marnie, baritone Will Liverman returns to The Metropolitan Opera this season as Horemhab in Akhnaten and Papageno in The ...

After a successful debut as Malcolm Fleet in Nico Muhly’s Marnie, baritone Will Liverman returns to The Metropolitan Opera this season as Horemhab in Akhnaten and Papageno in The Magic Flute. He also returns to Opera Philadelphia as Pantaloon in The Love for Three Oranges, and appears as Silvio in Pagliacci with Opera Colorado and Portland Opera, and Marcello in La bohème with Seattle Opera. With the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, he performs Orff’s Carmina Burana, and he joins the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra for Bach’s St. Matthew Passion.

Mr. Liverman has performed the role of Figaro in Il barbiere di Siviglia with the Seattle, Virginia, Kentucky, Madison, and Utah opera companies. At Opera Philadelphia, he originated the role of Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird, with additional performances at English National Opera, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and Madison Opera, as well as at the Apollo Theater.

Mr. Liverman was a 2019 Sphinx Medal of Excellence honoree and a grand finalist in the 2012 Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions. He was a fellow at Lyric Opera of Chicago’s Ryan Opera Center and a Young Artist at the Glimmerglass Festival. He holds degrees from The Juilliard School and Wheaton College.

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Damien Sneed

Damien Sneed is a pianist, organist, conductor, composer, producer, arranger, and arts educator whose work spans multiple genres. He has collaborated with legends of jazz, classical, pop, ...

Damien Sneed is a pianist, organist, conductor, composer, producer, arranger, and arts educator whose work spans multiple genres. He has collaborated with legends of jazz, classical, pop, and R&B, including Aretha Franklin, Wynton Marsalis, Jessye Norman, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, Ashford & Simpson, Lawrence Brownlee, and many others. An artist known for recording across many genres, Mr. Sneed is a recipient of the prestigious Sphinx Medal of Excellence, which is presented annually to emerging Black and Latinx leaders in classical music. Mr. Sneed currently teaches jazz piano, voice, and composition at the Manhattan School of Music.

In 2020, Mr. Sneed embarks on We Shall Overcome: A Celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a 40-city North American tour to celebrate the anniversary of Dr. King’s birthday being signed into law as a federal holiday. He recently joined the acclaimed staff of Houston Grand Opera (HGO) as music director and composer-in-residence, and serves as cover conductor under Patrick Summers for HGO mainstage productions. Mr. Sneed has been commissioned by the HGO to compose Marian’s Song, a chamber opera about the life of Marian Anderson, which will premiere at the Cullen Theater at Wortham Center in Houston in 2020.

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Chorale Le Chateau

Chorale Le Chateau is a musical group that has developed a remarkable reputation for its vivid interpretations, from vocal literature of the Renaissance to jazz, spirituals, gospel, and ...

Chorale Le Chateau is a musical group that has developed a remarkable reputation for its vivid interpretations, from vocal literature of the Renaissance to jazz, spirituals, gospel, and avant-garde contemporary music. Damien Sneed, artistic director and founder, selected each singer from his personal experiences as a performer, professor, and conductor. Members include amateurs and professionals, Grammy Award winners, college professors, students, and ministers from various institutions and organizations, including The Juilliard School, The Metropolitan Opera, Howard University, Yale University, The City University of New York, and many more.

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Sphinx Organization

Now in its 22nd year of championing Black and Latinx classical musicians across the nation and around the globe, the Sphinx Organization is dedicated to transforming lives through the power  ...

Now in its 22nd year of championing Black and Latinx classical musicians across the nation and around the globe, the Sphinx Organization is dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Led by President and Artistic Director Afa S. Dworkin, Sphinx programs reach more than 100,000 students, as well as live and broadcast audiences of more than 2 million annually. A faculty member at Roosevelt University, Ms. Dworkin is also a frequent speaker on the importance of inclusion and music education at conferences nationwide and abroad, including the League of American Orchestras, Chamber Music America, Americans for the Arts, and International Festival of Arts & Ideas.

The organization’s founding and mission were informed by the life experiences of Aaron P. Dworkin, who—as a young Black violinist—was acutely aware of the lack of diversity both on stage and in concert-hall audiences. While an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, he founded Sphinx to address the stark underrepresentation of people of color in classical music. President Barack Obama’s first appointment to the National Council on the Arts, Mr. Dworkin is now professor for art entrepreneurship and leadership at the University of Michigan’s School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Sphinx works to create positive change in the arts field and in communities across the country through a variety of programs organized into four main principles: education and access, artist development, performing artists, and arts leadership. Visit sphinxmusic.org for more information.

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