Curtis Summerfest Partners with the Sphinx Performance Academy in Summer 2018
CURTIS Institute of Music - The Knowledge Review

New collaborative model includes Curtis alumni on faculty and reflects a special commitment to musical talent in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA—January 29, 2018—The Curtis Institute of Music and the Sphinx Organization will partner in 2018 to bring the Sphinx Performance Academy (SPA), a full-scholarship summer program designed for young Black and Latino string players, to Curtis Summerfest. This new collaborative model includes Curtis alumni as faculty and reflects a special commitment to including musical talent from the Philadelphia area.

The Sphinx Performance Academy at Curtis Summerfest will take place June 10–24, 2018 and is designed for 32 violin, viola, and cello students ages 11 through 17. Curtis will assist in identifying promising Philadelphia musicians in addition to reinforcing Sphinx’s recruiting efforts nationwide.

“This partnership allows us to support the critically important work Sphinx is doing nationally to increase diversity in the arts, work which aligns with Curtis’s mission to engage a local and global community,” said Curtis President Roberto Díaz. “Many of our students and alumni have participated in various programs of the Sphinx Organization throughout the years, and this program gives them the opportunity to mentor the next generation of talented young Black and Latino musicians in Philadelphia and nationwide.”

The Sphinx Performance Academy will be added to the existing offerings of Curtis Summerfest, which include programs for a range of skill levels and ages. These include a conservatory-style program for high school-aged musicians, chamber music for adults, and intensive programs for harp, flute, and voice. Faculty from the Sphinx Performance Academy will also be featured on the popular Summerfest faculty recital series presented by Curtis.

“This new collaboration with Curtis comes at a meaningful and exciting time in Sphinx’s history,” said Sphinx President and Artistic Director Afa Dworkin. “Having just celebrated our 20th anniversary in 2017, we are kicking off the next two decades with many grand charges, including helping to prepare the most talented and deserving of the next generation of classical artists. We could not be more grateful and excited to partner with such a remarkable institution as we work toward this aim.”

The Sphinx Performance Academy curriculum includes an intensive schedule of private lessons and chamber music in addition to master classes, recitals, career enrichment sessions, and mentorship specific to navigating the classical music world as a person of color. Faculty include distinguished Curtis alumni and Sphinx Competition laureates Elena Urioste (Violin ’08) and Melissa White (Violin ’07), Astrid Schween of the Juilliard String Quartet, and members of the Catalyst Quartet.

Full scholarships for all students include tuition as well as housing and dining in Curtis’s Lenfest Hall. Sphinx Performance Academy faculty and staff will also stay in Lenfest Hall, allowing for additional mentorship time alongside students. Applications are available online at and are due April 11, 2018.

The Sphinx Organization is the Detroit-based national organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Led by Afa S. Dworkin, its president and artistic director, Sphinx programs reach over 100,000 students, as well as live and broadcast audiences of over two million annually.

The organization’s founding and mission were informed by the life experiences of Aaron Dworkin, who, as a young Black violinist, was acutely aware of the lack of diversity both on stage and in the audience in concert halls. He founded Sphinx while an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, to address the stark under-representation of people of color in classical music.

Sphinx works to create positive change in the arts field and in communities across the country through a variety of programs organized into four main principles: Education and Access, Artist Development, Performing Artists, and Arts Leadership.

To learn more about the Sphinx Organization and the Sphinx Performance Academy, visit or

The Curtis Institute of Music educates and trains exceptionally gifted young musicians to engage a local and global community through the highest level of artistry. One of the most selective schools in the United States, Curtis accepts four percent of applicants each year on average, and a tuition-free policy ensures that talent and artistic promise are the only considerations for admission. With a small student body of about 175, Curtis provides each young musician with an education of unparalleled quality, distinguished by a “learn by doing” philosophy and personalized attention from a faculty that includes a high proportion of actively performing musicians.

Curtis students hone their craft through more than 200 orchestra, opera, and solo and chamber music offerings each year and programs that bring arts access and education to the community. This real-world training allows these extraordinary young musicians to join the front rank of performers, composers, conductors, and musical leaders, making a profound impact on music onstage and in their communities. To learn more, visit

For more information, get in touch with

Jennifer Kallend | | (215) 717-3190

Diana Wensley | | (215) 717-3129

Curtis Institute of Music,

1726 Locust Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103

Recent Posts