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10/10 Sphinx Virtuosi


BUY TICKETS: Saturday, October 10, 2015 at 8 p.m.blurb-sphinx.medium

Inspiring Women
 String (from Concerto for Orchestra) 
Jennifer Higdon (b. 1962)
Rosa Parks Symphony

Daniel Bernard Roumain

  • “I made up my mind not to move” (b. 1971)
  • Klap Ur Handz

Caprice on Dixie
Herman Bellstedt, Jr.
Hannah White, violin solo (1858-1926)
Revised and adapted by Rachel Barton Pine (b. 1974)
In Memory
Joan Tower
Catalyst Quartet (b. 1938)
Serenade for Strings in E Minor, Op. 20
Edward Elgar

  • Allegro (1857-1934)
  • Larghetto

III. Alegretto

Star-burst                                                                                                                       Jessie Montgomery (b. 1981)

Sphinx Virtuosi

The SPHINX VIRTUOSI, led by the Catalyst Quartet, is one of the nation’s most dynamic professional chamber orchestras.  Comprised of 18 of the nation’s top Black and Latino classical soloists, these alumni of the internationally renowned Sphinx Competition 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 debut at Carnegie Hall in December 2004. Allan Kozinn described their performance as “first-rate in every way” and “the ensemble produced a more beautiful, precise and carefully shaped sound than some fully professional orchestras that come through Carnegie Hall in the course of the year.”

The Sphinx Virtuosi have returned to Carnegie Hall annually since 2006 performing to sold-out halls and earning outstanding reviews from The New York Times each year. At once a bridge between minority communities and the classical music establishment, the Sphinx Virtuosi continue to garner critical acclaim during their annual national tours to many of the leading venues around the country.

Inspired by Sphinx’s overarching mission, the Sphinx Virtuosi works 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.

The four principals of the Sphinx Virtuosi are members of the Catalyst Quartet, which has independently garnered acclaim in performances around the world. Members of the Sphinx Virtuosi have performed as soloists with America’s major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta, Philadelphia, 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 Juilliard, Curtis, Eastman, Peabody, Harvard, 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.

Catalyst Quartet

Catalyst Quartet Hailed by the New York Times at their Carnegie Hall debut as “invariably energetic and finely burnished…playing with earthy vigor,” Catalyst Quartet is comprised of top Laureates and alumni of the internationally acclaimed Sphinx Competition. Inspired by music’s ability to transform, Catalyst Quartet seeks to change the way classical music is perceived through diversity in programming, inspiring audiences with dynamic performances of cutting-edge, accessible contemporary repertoire.

Known for “rhythmic energy, polyphonic clarity and tight ensemble-playing,” the ensemble has performed on concert series at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, the Society for the Performing Arts in Houston and California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. As principal chairs and featured artists of the Sphinx Virtuosi, the CQ has toured and sold-out performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, at Chicago’s Harris Theater, the New World Center in Miami and Stern Auditorium at Carnegie Hall.

Following a summer of festival work in Alaska, Ohio, Illinois and California, Catalyst Quartet’s 2014-2015 Season included concert residencies at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall and in Spokane WA, El Paso TX and Augusta GA, as well as concerts in Ohio and their Los Angeles debut. Recent seasons have included a concert on the cafe series at New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and expanded touring in Mexico, Virginia, Minnesota, Hawaii and California.

Catalyst Quartet has been invited guest artists at important music festivals, including the Festival del Sole in Napa, Mainly Mozart in San Diego, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Sitka Music Festival, Juneau Jazz and Classics, Strings Music Festival and the Grand Canyon Music Festival. They participated in the Aldeburgh Music Foundation’s String Quartet Residency in England in 2014, and have performed and taught in university residencies for the University of Michigan, the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati, and Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music. International residencies have included London’s In Harmony Project, the University of South Africa and the Teatro de Bellas Artes in Cali, Colombia.

The Bach / Gould Project – Catalyst Quartet’s debut recording featuring the members’ own arrangement of Bach’s monumental Goldberg Variations paired with Glenn Gould’s seminal String Quartet – was released in April 2015 on the Azica label.  CQ is also featured on the release Strum, string works by composer/violinist Jessie Montgomery. They have appeared on numerous TV and radio broadcasts for Detroit Public Television, American Public Media’s Performance Today, and for local stations in Chicago, Houston, Seattle and Vermont, and have been featured in The Strad and Strings Magazine.

Founded by the Sphinx Organization, the Catalyst Quartet combines a serious commitment to diversity and education with a passion for contemporary works. Principal faculty at the Sphinx Performance Academy at Oberlin College and Northwestern University, Catalyst Quartet members are visiting teaching artists at the Sphinx Preparatory Music Institute hosted by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra.  The Catalyst Quartet is grateful to violinist Melissa White for stepping in to replace Jessie Montgomery, who is currently on leave.

Hannah White, violin

Hannah White is entering her sixth year at Music Institute of Chicago Academy where she is Puth Fellow and studies with Almita and Roland Vamos and Hye-Sun Lee.

In 2016, Hannah will perform as soloist with South Bend Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and New World Symphony. She has performed as a soloist with many orchestras including Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Madison Symphony Orchestra, Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, Oistrakh Symphony Orchestra, and Dexter Symphony Orchestra.

Hannah has won numerous competitions including 1st-Place at 2015 Sphinx Competition, Winner at 2015 Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Young Artists Competition, 1st-Place at 2013 National Level of MTNA, and 1st-Place at 2012 Walgreens National Concerto Competition. She was also semi-finalist at 2013 Stradivarius International Violin Competition and 2015 Cooper International Violin Competition.

Hannah is member of Atara String Quartet which earned the Gold medal at the 2015 Saint Paul String Quartet Competition, 1st-Place at 2014 Society of American Musician Chamber Competition, and Honorable Mention at 2015 Fischoff Chamber Competition.



 Jennifer Higdon

Jennifer Higdon is a major figure in contemporary Classical music, receiving the 2010 Pulitzer Prize in Music for her Violin Concerto and a 2010 Grammy for her Percussion Concerto. Higdon enjoys several hundred performances a year of her works, and blue cathedral is one of America’s most performed contemporary orchestral works, with more than 500 performances worldwide since its premiere in 2000. Her works have been recorded on over four dozen CDs. Higdon is currently writing an opera based on the best selling novel, Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier, to be premiered by the Santa Fe Opera in 2015. Higdon holds the Rock Chair in Composition at The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia. Her music is published exclusively by Lawdon Press.

Daniel Bernard Roumain

DBR’s acclaimed work as a composer and performer spans more than two decades, and has been commissioned by venerable artists and institutions worldwide. “About as omnivorous as a contemporary artist gets” (New York Times), DBR is perhaps the only composer whose collaborations traverse the worlds of Philip Glass, Bill T. Jones, Savion Glover and Lady Gaga.

Known for his signature violin sounds infused with a myriad of electronic and urban music influences, DBR takes his genre-bending music beyond the proscenium. He has been nominated for an EMMY for Outstanding Musical Composition for his work with ESPN; featured as keynote performer at technology conferences; and written large scale, site-specific music for public parks.

DBR’s made his Carnegie Hall debut (2000) with the American Composers Orchestra performing his Harlem Essay for Orchestra, a Whitaker commission. He went on to compose works for the Boston Pops Orchestra; Carnegie Hall; the Library of Congress; the Stuttgart Symphony, and myriad others.

DBR’s commitment to arts education has garnered long-term relationships with countless universities, orchestras, and performing arts centers. He is currently the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Center Artist-in-Residence (University of Houston) and a Center for Art and Performance Resident Artist at UCLA. DBR earned his doctorate in Music Composition from the University of Michigan.

Rachel Barton Pine

American violinist Rachel Barton Pine has appeared as soloist with many of the world’s most prestigious orchestras, including the Chicago, Atlanta, St. Louis, Dallas, Baltimore, Montreal, Vienna, New Zealand and Iceland Symphonies, and the Philadelphia Orchestra, working with conductors including Charles Dutoit, Zubin Mehta, Erich Leinsdorf, Marin Alsop, Neeme Järvi, and Placido Domingo. Acclaimed collaborations include Daniel Barenboim, Christoph Eschenbach, William Warfield, Christopher O’Riley and Mark O’Connor. Her festival appearances include Ravinia, Marlboro, and Salzburg. She has been featured on St. Paul Sunday, Performance Today, From the Top, CBS Sunday Morning, and NBC’s Today. Her 16 critically acclaimed albums for the Cedille, Dorian, and Cacophony labels include “Brahms and Joachim Violin Concertos” with Carlos Kalmar and the Chicago Symphony, “Scottish Fantasies” with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and “Beethoven and Clement Violin Concertos” with José Serebrier and the Royal Philharmonic. She holds top prizes from the J.S. Bach (gold medal), Queen Elisabeth, Paganini, Kreisler, Szigeti, and Montreal international competitions, and has twice been honored as a Chicagoan of the Year. Her charitable activities include serving as a trustee of the Music Institute of Chicago and president of the Rachel Elizabeth Barton Foundation. She plays the Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu (Cremona 1742), known as the “ex-Soldat,” on generous loan from her patron.

Joan Tower

Joan Tower is widely regarded as one of the most important American composers living today. During a career spanning more than fifty years, she has made lasting contributions to musical life in the United States as composer, performer, conductor, and educator. Her works have been commissioned by major ensembles, soloists, and orchestras, including the Emerson, Tokyo, and Muir quartets; soloists Evelyn Glennie, Carol Wincenc, David Shifrin, and John Browning; and the orchestras of Chicago, New York, St. Louis, Pittsburgh, and Washington DC among others. Tower was the first composer chosen for a Ford Made in America consortium commission of sixty-five orchestras. Leonard Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony recorded Made in America in 2008 (along with Tambor and Concerto for Orchestra). The album collected three Grammy awards: Best Classical Contemporary Composition, Best Classical Album, and Best Orchestral Performance. In 1990 she became the first woman to win the prestigious Grawemeyer Award for Silver Ladders, a piece she wrote for the St. Louis Symphony where she was Composer-in-Residence from 1985-88. Other residencies with orchestras include a 10-year residency with the Orchestra of St. Luke’s (1997-2007) and the Pittsburgh Symphony (2010-2011). She was the Albany Symphony’s Mentor Composer partner in the 2013-14 season. Tower was cofounder and pianist for the Naumburg Award winning Da Capo Chamber Players from 1970-1985.

Gabriela Lena Frank

Born in Berkeley, California, to a mother of mixed Peruvian/Chinese ancestry and a father of Lithuanian/Jewish descent, Dr. Gabriela Lena Frank explores her multicultural heritage through her compositions.

Winner of a Latin Grammy and nominated for Grammys as both composer and pianist, Gabriela also holds a Guggenheim Fellowship and a USA Artist Fellowship given each year to fifty of the country’s finest artists.  Her work has been described as “crafted with unselfconscious mastery” (Washington Post), and “brilliantly effective” (New York Times).  A member of the Silk Road Ensemble, Gabriela is regularly commissioned by luminaries such as cellist Yo Yo Ma, soprano Dawn Upshaw, the King’s Singers, and the Kronos Quartet.  She is also commissioned and performed by premiere orchestras such as the New York Philharmonic, the Chicago Symphony, the Boston Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Atlanta Symphony, the Cleveland Orchestra, and the San Francisco Symphony.   In 2013, she began her three-year tenure as composer-in-residence with the Detroit Symphony under maestro Leonard Slatkin as well as a second three-year residency with the Houston Symphony under Andrés Orozco-Estrada; and continues her longstanding creative relationship with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Nilo Cruz with a commission for a large-scale opera, Frida and Diego, from Arizona Opera.  She will begin her tenure as the Visiting Composer for Sphinx Virtuosi in 2015.

Gabriela’s music is prominently featured in multiple scholarly books including the W.W. Norton Anthology: The Musics of Latin America. She is also the subject of several PBS documentaries including “Compadre Huashayo” regarding her work in Ecuador composing for the Orquestra de Instrumentos Andinos comprised of native highland instruments.

Gabriela received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Rice University, and her Doctorate from the University of Michigan.  Her most prominent teachers have been Jeanne Kierman Fischer and Logan Skelton for piano, and Sam Jones, William Albright, Leslie Bassett, William Bolcom, and Michael Daugherty for composition.  She resides in the San Francisco Bay area and is published and managed exclusively by G. Schirmer.

Edward Elgar

Sir Edward William Elgar was born at Lower Broadheath, on 2nd June 1857, within sight of the Malvern Hills and the tower of Worcester Cathedral, features that meant much to him throughout his creative life. In boyhood, he showed a precocious gift for keyboard improvisation, later becoming a competent organist, an outstanding violinist and a conductor of nervous energy and much flexibility, proving notably successful in recordings of his own music.  Many of his orchestral works and concertos, choral pieces, chamber music and songs have entered the British and international classical music repertoire. He was appointed Master of the King’s Musick in 1924.

Jessie Montgomery

Jessie Montgomery is a New York native violinist, composer and music educator.

Recently, Jessie has been recognized as an important emerging composer by the American Composers Orchestra, the Sphinx Organization, the Joyce Foundation and the Sorel Organization through generous grants and fellowships that support and promote her works. For the 2015-16 season she will be the Composer-Educator for the Albany Symphony, leading youth education initiatives and performances of recent works. Further attention to her music has come with commissions from the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra, the Young People’s Chorus of New York, and Cygnus Ensemble. She was the inaugural Musician Fellow at Lighthouse Works in partnership with the Orpheus Chamber Orchestra. In 2011-2012, Jessie was the Van Lier Composer Fellow at the American Composers Orchestra, with performances of her works for small ensemble showcased throughout New York City in the SONiC Festival, and the Composers OutFront! Series.

Since 2012 Jessie has held a post as Composer-in-Residence with the Sphinx Virtuosi and was awarded a generous MPower grant to assist in the development of her debut album, Strum: Music for Strings (October, 2015, Azica Records). In 2016, she will serve as a juror in the annual competition.

Jessie holds a Bachelor’s degree from The Juilliard School in violin performance and a Master’s Degree in composition and film scoring from New York University. Her primary violin teachers have been Sally Thomas and Ann Setzer and her composition teachers and mentors include Ira Newborn, Joan Tower, Derek Bermel and Laura Kaminsky.

10/11 The Children of Willesden Lane


BUY TICKETS: Sunday, October 11 @ 2 p.m. 

 Set in Vienna in 1938 and London during the Blitzkrieg, The Children of Willesden Lane is directed by Hershey Felder. It tells the true story of Lisa Jura, a young Jewish pianist who dreams of a concert debut at the storied Musikverein concert hall.showimage13028

When Lisa is swept up in the Kindertransport to protect her from the Nazi regime, everything about her life is upended except her love of music and her pursuit of that dream.

In this poignant performance, virtuoso Mona Golabek, Lisa Jura’s daughter, tells her mother’s story and performs some of the world’s most beloved piano music in this poignant tribute to her remarkable mother.Mona Golabek performing

Based on the book The Children of Willesden Lane, written by Mona Golabek and Lee Cohen, The Pianist of Willesden Lane is one young girl’s story of survival and how the most beautiful music in the world saved her life.

Los Angeles Times
“[The Play]  is an arresting, deeply affecting triumph. …an undiluted privilege to witness.”

 Golabek was the recipient of the 2015 Outstanding Solo Performance award from The San Diego Theatre Critics Circle, as well as nominations from the New York Drama Critics Circle and the Los Angeles Drama Critics for outstanding solo performance.