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Wednesday, May 22, 2024
HomeNewsLocal newsSphinx Brings STT/STJ Diversity In Classical Music

Sphinx Brings STT/STJ Diversity In Classical Music

Sphinx, a non-profit that encourages, trains, and promotes Black and brown excellence in symphonic instruments, performs on St. John Friday and on St. Thomas Saturday. (Photo courtesy The Forum)
Sphinx Virtuosi, a non-profit that encourages, trains and promotes Black and brown excellence in symphonic instruments, performs on St. John Friday and on St. Thomas Saturday. (Photo courtesy The Forum)

Forget the stuffy confines of classical music, be they real or imagined. St. Thomas and St. John are getting a blast of joy this week courtesy of Sphinx Virtuosi, a Detroit-based non-profit that encourages, trains and promotes Black and Latinx excellence in symphonic instruments.

Sphinx brings an 18-piece string ensemble of musicians from a broad range of backgrounds, all with a palpable drive for their field. Sphinx musicians regularly perform at Carnegie Hall in New York and other esteemed venues around the world, including the U.S. Supreme Court at an annual awards event.

This is no stoney-faced Sphinx. Performances, ranging from the innovative to traditional, often culminate in thunderous applause. Seeing diverse faces dancing across violins and cellos, and delicately guiding their peers with the flick of a baton, elicits revelatory emotions.

While diversity has risen in the classical music world in recent years, Sphinx estimates less than three percent of musicians in classical orchestras are Black. Fielding musicians from throughout the Americas, Sphinx serves as cultural and diversity ambassadors for audiences and communities around the United States during national tours, according to organizers.

Tynnetta McIntosh, a board member of both The Forum and Sphinx, said acknowledging Black and brown classical musicians is long overdue. “They’ve always been here but not paid attention to. Symphonies and the world of classical music in general are slowly diversifying, and it’s something to be celebrated,” McIntosh said.

Sphinx musicians will perform Friday at the St. John School of the Arts, starting at 6 p.m. They will be at the Antilles School’s Prior Jollek Hall on Saturday at 8 p.m. The courtyard will open at 7 p.m. The event is sponsored by the local arts non-profit The Forum and the St. John School of the Arts.

Tickets are available from the St. John School Of The Arts website, www.stjohnschoolofthearts.org for the Friday event, and from The Forum website: www.theforumusvi.org for the St. Thomas event.

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