Music Institute of Chicago students win big at National Sphinx Competition


CHICAGO, IL – The Music Institute of Chicago has swept the 15th annual national Sphinx Competition in Detroit, Michigan. Music Institute Academy violinist Adé Williams (14, Chicago/Bronzeville) won First Place Laureate in the Junior Division, and Music Institute cello alumnus Gabriel Cabezas (19, Philadelphia, attending Curtis Institute of Music)—winner of the Junior Division in 2006—was named First Place Laureate in the Senior Division. Two additional Music Institute Academy students advanced to the semi-finals: Caitlin Adamson (16, viola, Evanston) and Mira Williams (14, viola, Chicago/Bronzeville).
During the competition week February 8–12, semi-finalists received coaching and master classes from a distinguished jury and rehearsed and performed in chamber groups.
The Junior Division Honors Concert featured the three Junior Division finalists competing for final placement, accompanied by the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra on February 10. The Finals Concert, hosted by the Detroit Symphony at the Max M. Fisher Music Center in Detroit, Michigan on February 12, featured the top three Senior Division finalists competing for placement, accompanied by the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra.
First place laureates receive significant cash prizes as well as performance opportunities with major orchestras, and all semi-finalists in both divisions may be eligible for full scholarships to attend a wide variety of top summer education programs, camps, and festivals. In addition, all semi-finalists in both divisions receive a Sphinx Music Assistance Fund scholarship in partnership with the League of American Orchestras, which each student can apply to his/her musical development.
Music Institute and Sphinx
The Music Institute of Chicago has a history of achievement in the Sphinx Competition. Music Institute students have won the Junior Division in four of the past seven years:

      * 2012 – Adé Williams, violin

  • 2011 – Alexandra Switala, violin
  • 2008 – Clayton Penrose-Whitmore, violin
  • 2006 – Gabriel Cabezas, cello 
All Music Institute students who competed in the Sphinx Competition have been students at the Music Institute’s prestigious Academy for gifted pre-college musicians.
About Sphinx
Founded in 1996 by Aaron P. Dworkin, the Sphinx Organization has grown from an annual competition for young black and Latino string players to a national arts and youth development organization. In 2010, Dworkin was President Obama’s first nominee to the National Council on the Arts. Sphinx programs reach more than 30,000 students, as well as live and broadcast audiences of more than 2 million annually. The Sphinx Competition, presented by DTE Energy Foundation, is held every year in Ann Arbor and Detroit, Michigan and is open to junior high, high school (under 18), and college age (18–27) black and Latino string players residing in the United States. The Sphinx Competition offers young black and Latino classical string players a chance to compete under the guidance of an internationally renowned panel of judges and to perform with established professional musicians in a competition setting. Its primary goals are to encourage, develop, and recognize classical music talent in the black and Latino communities.

About the Academy

Founded in 2006, the Music Institute of Chicago Academy has established itself as one of the most respected pre-collegiate conservatory programs in the United States. The Academy’s internationally recognized faculty, rigorous curriculum, and instructional model, as well as the program’s highly gifted students, have solidified its preeminent reputation. Students in this prestigious program have come from throughout the United States, as well as from Central and South America, Europe, Japan, China, and Korea. The very selective program focuses on providing an intensive and comprehensive musical education and significant performance opportunities for developing musicians. The carefully assembled faculty represents teachers and performers with a passion for developing young talent and an established reputation for student achievement.

Approximately 50 young musicians participate in all aspects of the curriculum, including private lessons with Academy artist faculty, a rigorous chamber music component, a stimulating chamber orchestra, and accelerated music theory classes. Pianists additionally study keyboard literature, skills, and improvisation in an intimate group setting. A hallmark of the Academy is the Enrichment program offering regular master classes, discussion panels, lectures, and workshops with internationally recognized visiting artists, masterful pedagogues, and professional experts in the field. The Academy introduces students to a vast music community of peer musicians, pedagogical styles, and the rigors of conservatory training. The nation’s most elite college and university music conservatories, including The Juilliard School, the Curtis Institute of Music, the Eastman School of Music, and the New England Conservatory, actively pursue graduates of the four-year program.

About the Music Institute of Chicago

The Music Institute of Chicago believes that music has the power to sustain and nourish the human spirit; therefore, our mission is to provide the foundation for lifelong engagement with music. As one of the three largest and most respected community music schools in the nation, the Music Institute offers musical excellence built on the strength of its distinguished faculty, commitment to quality, and breadth of programs and services. Founded in 1931 and one of the oldest community music schools in Illinois, the Music Institute is a member of the National Guild of Community Schools of the Arts and accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music. Each year, the Music Institute’s world-class music teachers and arts therapists provide the highest quality arts education to more than 5,000 students of all ability levels, from birth to 101 years of age at campuses in Evanston, Highland Park, Lake Forest, Lincolnshire, Winnetka, and Downers Grove. The Music Institute also offers lessons and programs at the Steinway of Chicago store in Northbrook and early childhood and community engagement programs throughout the Chicago area and the North Shore. Nichols Concert Hall, an education and performance center in downtown Evanston, reaches approximately 14,000 people each year. The Music Institute’s community engagement and partnership programs reach an additional 6,500 Chicago Public School students annually. The Music Institute offers lessons, classes, and programs through four distinct areas: Community School, The Academy, Creative Arts Therapy (Institute for Therapy through the Arts), and Nichols Concert Hall.