Detroit welcomes our diverse arts, culture, classical world for the 2020 Sphinx Competition and the related conference to strengthen diversity in the arts, SphinxConnect. Young Black and Latinx classical string players took center stage in Orchestra Hall at the annual Sphinx Finals Concert Feb. 7. SphinxConnect convened a celebration of diversity in all phases of arts and culture the same week.

Young cellist Gabriel Martins is the First Prize Laureate of the Senior Division. Catch his performance — and all the excitement — via Detroit Public TV coverage of the concert and conference at

The Sphinx Organization, famed for opening doors for young minority musicians, will be raising its baton once again this weekend for its annual celebration of arts and diversity. And again, Detroit Public TV will be on hand to livestream all the excitement.

Now in its 23rd year, the national Sphinx Competition offers young Black and Latinx classical string players a chance to compete under the guidance of an internationally renowned panel of judges and to perform with and receive mentorship from established professional musicians.

The competition reaches a crescendo Saturday night at Max M. and Marjorie S. Fisher Music Center with the Finals Concert, providing 18 emerging classical musicians from around the country an opportunity to vie for more than $100,000 in prizes.

Among its highlights this year:

  • The nation’s finest young musicians competing for the first place $50,000 Robert Frederick Smith prize
  • Real-time voting for the $5,000 Audience Choice Award winner, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Financial Services
  • Guest Conductor Roderick Cox with the all-Black and Latinx Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, presented by Mercedes-Benz Financial Services
  • The Detroit premiere of Sphinx founder Aaron Dworkin’s “The American Rhapsody,” a new spoken word multimedia work
  • Tickets are available on a pay-what-you-want basis, $0-$20, at

Today and tomorrow, SphinxConnect convenes hundreds of musicians, industry leaders, educators, funders, diversity advocates and administrators to celebrate and empower diversity in the arts. Located at the Westin Book Cadillac Hotel in Detroit, it features more than 30 sessions designed to inspire and ignite action, participation of more than 60 speakers, keynote addresses by luminaries and trailblazers, a special session for entrepreneurs, and much more.

For information, go to

Based in Detroit and under the leadership of President and Artistic Director Afa Dworkin, the Sphinx Organization has earned international renown for its tireless championing of diversity in the arts. It has fostered a love of music in hundreds of young performers, many of whom have gone onto careers in orchestras around the country.

Aaron Dworkin founded the organization 23 years ago while still an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, where he is now a professor.  While performing or attending concerts, he was acutely aware of the lack of diversity both on stage and in the concert halls. Sphinx set out to remedy this deficiency.

If you are unable to attend these events in person, tune in to Detroit Public TV’s livestream of the events at

Special treat: Peter Whorf of WRCJ 90.9 FM will serve as host during the intermission of the Finals Concert. You can also catch Peter from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays during his “Midday Music” show on WRCJ.

The Sphinx Organization, based in Detroit, is something we can all be proud of. And, you won’t find a more inspiring way to spend your weekend.

Here is the full schedule of our livestream:


  • Friday, Feb. 7: 9-11 a.m., 2:30-6:30 p.m. and 8-10 p.m.
  • Saturday, Feb. 8: 9 a.m.-noon and 2-5 p.m.

Sphinx Competition Finals Concert

  • Saturday, Feb. 8: 7:30-9:30 p.m.

If you can’t attend in-person, follow the conversation via Detroit Public Television: click here.