The Sphinx Organization is a national non-profit, headquartered in Detroit, MI and founded by Dr. Aaron P. Dworkin, a graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy and the University of Michigan (B.B. and M.M) and Carrie A. Chester, a graduate of the University of Michigan (B.A. in Multicultural Studies and M.A. in Elementary Education). A violinist since childhood, Aaron would attend orchestra concerts and notice that very few performers or audience members were people of color. The desire to change this was the founding principle of Sphinx. While Aaron was still a student at the University of Michigan, the Sphinx Organization began with the inaugural Sphinx Competition in 1998. The Sphinx Competition for Black and Latino strings players provides an opportunity for young musicians of color to compete under the guidance and mentorship of internationally renowned musicians.
Ms. Chester currently teaches at Burns Park Elementary in the Ann Arbor Public Schools. She is a strong proponent of public education and actively works to eliminate predictable racial disparities in our schools.
Today, Sphinx continues to create positive change in the field and in communities across the country. In addition to the Sphinx Competition, Sphinx operates a variety of programs including Sphinx Overture, which offers free violins and lessons to elementary school students in underserved communities, and Sphinx Performance Academy, a full-scholarship intensive summer chamber music program for aspiring Black and Latino musicians ages 12-17. Through these and numerous other endeavors, Sphinx is constantly working toward fulfilling its mission of transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts.
Watch the Sphinx Story to get an overview of what Sphinx is all about.
The name Sphinx was given to the organization to represent some of the founding principles that guided its conception. The Sphinx represents the historical and geographical source for many minorities and exemplifies the power, wisdom and persistence that we hope to instill in our participants.
The Sphinx also constitutes a mystery, an enigma. Music shares this puzzling aspect, as it is born from the experiences and aspirations of the composer as well as the performer. Like the Sphinx, it is up to the beholder, the listener, to interpret and appreciate from the music what is ultimately a reflection of internal emotions and spiritual experiences.