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Curtis at SphinxConnect

Explore highlights from Curtis's time at SphinxConnect this year

Curtis students, faculty, staff and alumni recently travelled to SphinxConnect in Detroit. Several alumni and faculty presented talks or participated in panel discussions, while a number of students attended as fellows. Below, explore some highlights from Curtis's time at SphinxConnect this year.

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Ten Curtis students attended the conference: Martin Luther Clark, tenor (at left); Mekhi Gladden, oboe; Tania Villasuso, clarinet; Alejandro Lombo, flute; Jamison Hillian, oboe; Marlène Ngalissamy, bassoon; Tiffany Townsend, soprano; Aaron Crouch, tenor; Lindsey Reynolds, soprano; and Sarrah Bushara, oboe.

Martin shared his thoughts:

"Attending the SphinxConnect conference was very inspiring and eye-opening. It gave me such a feeling of acceptance, belonging, and pride to be a person of color in the classical arts. Normally I’m used to there being [just] a small group, or even being the only person of color ... To have such a large population of people of color with the same aspirations and drive as [I have] to be successful in the arts was very profound ... Sphinx is positively impacting the motion towards the ultimate goal of having true equality on not only the stage, but also in arts administration. It’s a step in the right direction and still very much needed in today’s world!"



Violinist Adé Williams, a Curtis student, was awarded second prize in the Sphinx Competition's senior division, performing the first movement of Saint-Saëns's Violin Concerto No. 3 in B Minor. The orchestra contained even more familar faces, including alumni Melissa White (Violin '07), Alexander Kerr (Violin '88), Joseph Conyers (Double Bass '04), and Demarre McGill (Flute '96).



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Curtis alumni Melissa White (Violin '07) and Elena Urioste (Violin '08) gave a presentation on their Intermission Sessions and Retreat programs, which combine yoga and minfdfulness practices with music. Melissa and Elena were also awarded a $10,000 Sphinx Tank Grant to support Intermission.



Several Curtis alumni, staff, and faculty participated in discussions on issues facing classical musicians of color, as well as the wider musical world. Here, Alexander Kerr (Violin '88, concertmaster of the Dallas Symphony Orchestra) speaks during a panel on the experiences of today's orchestra musicians. Explore more discussions and performances from SphinxConnect via YouTube, where many of the conference's sessions have been preserved on video.



You can learn more about SphinxConnect—and the Sphinx Organization's mission to increase classical music access for musicians of color at all levels—at the Sphinx website. Curtis will once again collaborate with Sphinx during this summer's Sphinx Performance Academy at Curtis Summerfest; and strives year-round to prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion in its own efforts to advance classical music.