Black History 365: The Sphinx Organization

We are highlighting examples of Black excellence throughout the year! Feel free to send us suggestions!

The Sphinx Organization is a social justice organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts.

Focused on increasing representation of Black and Latinx artists in classical music and recognizing excellence, Sphinx programs serve beginner students to seasoned classical music professionals, as well as cultural entrepreneurs and administrators.

Based in Detroit, Michigan, but with nationwide reach, Sphinx envisions a day where the classical music field looks like our communities: where every young person has the opportunity to express themselves and learn classical music; where audiences reflect the people we see on our streets; and where leadership—on stage and off—includes all deserving voices.

How Sphinx Started

Sphinx began in 1997 as a singular initiative: the Sphinx Competition for young Black and Latinx string players. The goal of founder, violinist Aaron P. Dworkin, was to identify, empower, and support talented young artists and prepare them for professional careers in classical music. 

How Sphinx Grew

Over the past 25 years Sphinx has grown from a single program to a movement that promotes artistic excellence and inclusion across the sector, through the following elements:

  • year-round tuition-free education and creative youth development
  • performances and tours of 4 premiere ensembles and a robust roster of soloists
  • commissioning and performing new works by Black and Latinx composers
  • administrative leadership, cultural innovation, and entrepreneurship programs
  • sector-wide partnerships with 300+ organizations to serve the field and bring programming to scale

Sphinx is now led by Afa S. Dworkin, its long-time Artistic Director, who has been with the organization since its inception. Today, the Sphinx team is a collective of vibrant, talented leaders, including 10 full-time staff members, 50+ teaching artists and seasonal teams, and 800+ alumni