Sphinx Virtuosi members Rubén Rengel and Xavier Foley perform in Carnegie Hall | Credit: Stephanie Berger

The Sphinx Organization has another ally in the Colburn School. Sphinx, the Detroit organization that’s built a national network in support of the careers of Black and Latino classical musicians, is partnering with the leading Los Angeles conservatory, beginning next year.

One of the first big steps: Colburn will offer full scholarships in its pre-college program (the Music Academy) for high-school-age winners and semifinalists in the Sphinx Competition. It’s Colburn extending its tuition-free model from the college level to the Music Academy, plus a boon for the annual competition, a national event for string players that offers cash prizes in the tens of thousands. The next Sphinx Competition is January 2021; not only the 2021 finalists, but also past Junior Division competitors, qualify for the Music Academy scholarships.

Colburn is joining in with two other Sphinx projects as well. The school will host the organization’s flagship ensemble, the Sphinx Virtuosi, in a three-day residency in October 2021. It will also be the site for a Sphinx LEAD retreat this summer, that initiative’s first outing on the West Coast. LEAD (Leaders in Excellence, Arts, and Diversity) is Sphinx’s arts leadership program.

Colburn’s multitiered involvement with Sphinx is consistent with the Detroit organization’s “pipeline” approach, which backs young artists at every stage in their careers. Colburn President and CEO Sel Kardan describes the plans for 2021 as the start of “a lasting relationship and dialogue.” Sphinx President and Artistic Director Afa S. Dworkin adds, “The time for transformative work is now.”