Penn State College of Arts and Architecture
Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State

Sphinx Virtuosi explores musical heritage with ‘Latin Voyages: Viajes Latinos’ Sept. 29 at Schwab

Sphinx Virtuosi, a self-conducting orchestra featuring 18 string-instrument soloists of African-American and Hispanic descent, will celebrate diversity in classical music with a performance at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, in Schwab Auditorium.

The program—“Latin Voyages: Viajes Latinos”—will feature Argentine tango and audial representations of Mexico and Latin heritage in works by Astor Piazzolla, Alberto Williams, Javier Álvarez, Heitor Villa-Lobos, Cesar Espejo, Osvaldo Golijov and Alberto Ginastera.

Purchase tickets, which are $42 for an adult, $15 for a University Park student and $32 for a person 18 and younger. A grant from the University Park Allocation Committee makes Penn State student prices possible.

Sphinx Virtuosi—featuring Catalyst Quartet, which made its Penn State debut during the center’s 2015–16 season—highlights the talents of prizewinning alumni of the internationally renowned Sphinx Competition. The annual contest is open to young black and Hispanic string musicians with the goal of encouraging the love of classical music in underserved communities.

A New York Times reviewer described the orchestra’s 2004 Carnegie Hall premiere as “first rate in every way.” “The Virtuosi’s playing combined zest, attention to detail, tight ensemble, and glistening or deeply amorous tone quality, as the music called for,” wrote a Washington Post critic in reaction to a Kennedy Center performance in 2013.

The Sphinx Organization, founded by Aaron Dworkin (musician, author, arts advocate, former member of the Obama National Arts Policy Committee and 2005 MacArthur Fellow) and now led by Afa Sadykhly Dworkin, aims to cultivate an appreciation of the arts among minorities through advocacy, opportunity and mentorship.

Historically, blacks and Latinos were not included in classical music performance and academia, Sadykhly Dworkin said. “Many of the young people we touch through our educational and grass-roots programs … don’t feel included in this field and don’t feel it’s an integral part of their culture, so we’re working to overcome a much more complex set of circumstances,” she said in an interview with Lexington Herald-Leader in 2013.

Complimentary parking for the performance will be offered at the Eisenhower Parking Deck, and complimentary wheelchair-accessible shuttle service will be provided from the parking deck to Schwab.

This presentation is a component of the Center for the Performing Arts Classical Music Project. With support from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the project provides opportunities to engage students, faculty and the community with classical music artists and programs.

Pieter W. and Lida Ouwehand sponsor the concert. WPSU is the media sponsor.

Go to Sphinx Virtuosi more information about the orchestra and for a list of public engagement activities featuring its musicians.

Learn more about the orchestra and its mission to nurture diversity in the arts.

Watch the orchestra perform excerpts of works by Béla Bartók, Golijov, Ginastera and Franz Schubert.