/ Summerfest / Sphinx Performance Academy: 32 full-scholarship Black or Latinx string players


June 14–27, 2020 "stay tuned for more information"

The 2020 Sphinx Performance Academy at Curtis Summerfest will take place online.

Contact Us

(313) 877-9100 x708

Application Information

Admissions decisions for Summer 2020 were sent via e-mail on March 31, 2020

Sphinx Organization logo


The Sphinx Performance Academy at Curtis Summerfest 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 Sphinx Performance Academy at Curtis Summerfest will take place online during the designated festival dates.

Curtis Summerfest and the Sphinx Organization partner in a new collaborative model. The Sphinx Performance Academy is a full-scholarship intensive chamber music and solo performance program, with a focus on cultural diversity, for string musicians ages 11–17. The curriculum includes private lessons, string quartet coachings, masterclasses, recitals, career enrichment sessions, and mentorship tailored to each student. SPA seeks to actively recruit and engage students from cultural backgrounds that are underrepresented in the field of classical music.

  • Eligible Instruments: Violin, Viola, Cello
  • Participants must be 11–17 years of age
  • Participants must be U.S. citizens or legal residents in the U.S.
  • Participants must be of Black or Latinx descent


Summer 2020 Updates for Participants

The safety and well-being of our SPA students, faculty, and staff are our foremost concern. The Sphinx Organization and the Curtis Institute of Music remain committed to creating a meaningful experience for students that encompasses SPA’s values of excellence, intensive learning, and supportive community building. Students will participate virtually in private lessons, master classes with Curtis faculty and alumni, studio classes, performances, and additional enrichment and social activities.

Admissions decisions were sent via e-mail on March 31, and accepted students will receive additional details via e-mail.

Sample Daily Schedule for the Sphinx Performance Academy (subject to change)

All times listed in ET, all activities take place online

9–10 a.m. Warm up/Practice*
  *Students in West Coast/Mountain time zones may make up this practice hour during afternoon free time
10–11 a.m. Daily Group Session and Morning Check-In
11 a.m.–1 p.m. Lessons/Practice
1–2 p.m. Free Time and Lunch
2–4 p.m. Afternoon class (Ex: studio and guest artist master classes, enrichment sessions)
4–6:45 p.m. Practice Time, Free Time and Dinner
6:45–8 p.m. Faculty and student performances, curated social time, guest sessions*
  *These sessions will take place on select dates only

Please note: On-site placement auditions will not be held for SPA 2020; however, students should come prepared with 1–2 solo pieces ready for performance in master classes and lessons upon arrival. Students should note tempo markings of all pieces and movements in order to facilitate virtual collaboration with SPA pianists.



Hear more from other past participants!

How to Apply

Applications are processed online and admissions decisions are made by the Sphinx Organization. Deadline to apply was February 11, 2020 at 11:59 PM ESThttps://app.getacceptd.com/sphinxmusic

All accepted applicants for the Sphinx Performance Academy receive a full scholarship to the program. No registration fee is required.

  1. Full Repertoire List – Solo repertoire and chamber music learned and performed.
  2. Personal Statement – Around 150-200 words expressing why you want to attend the Sphinx Performance Academy.
  3. High Resolution Headshot (Mininum 300 dpi)
  4. Scanned copy of birth certificate or document indicating US citizenship or legal residence
  5. No registration fee is required.

Three separate videos. Videos should not be edited, and the audio/video quality should be clear. iPhone videos are accepted as long as the audio and video are clear.

  1. 3-octave scale in any key
  2. Movement or piece of choice with or without piano accompaniment. The selection should be at least 2-3min in length.
  3. Additional contrasting movement or piece of choice with or without piano accompaniment. The selection should be at least 2-3min in length.

Please choose repertoire that is well-prepared and that shows your highest level of technique and musicality. We recommend that at least 1 of the 2 pieces of choice include a concerto movement; however, any piece, concert etude, or movement of a concerto or sonata will be accepted.

Each video file should contain only one piece. Please allow sufficient time to prepare and upload videos. Videos uploaded must be smaller than 4.5 gigabyte (4.5GB) in size.  The following file types are supported: MPEG, MPG, MP4, OGG, MOV, AVI, WMV, M4V, VOB, FLV.

Upon acceptance into the program, participants will be sent via email 1-2 excerpts from the standard quartet repertoire. Students will prepare these excerpts and a solo work for an audition on arrival day. Following the placement auditions, students will be assigned chamber music groups and repertoire.