by Jarrett Hoffman
If there’s one classical music festival that best represents this particular moment in time, it might be the Sphinx Performance Academy. Not only does it focus on cultural diversity, and not only has it shifted online this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, but it has also taken on a new dimension amidst the movement for racial justice sparked by the death of George Floyd.
SPA, as the festival is known, is a full-scholarship program focusing on chamber music and solo playing for string players ages 11-17 who come from cultural backgrounds that are underrepresented in classical music. It’s one of the many programs of the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization, founded in 1997 and devoted to diversity in the arts.
Multiple conservatories and schools of music have hosted SPA since it launched in 2004, including the Cleveland Institute of Music since 2017. And with physical hosting out of the question this year, the CIM-affiliated session will run online from July 25 to August 8. (That will follow other virtual sessions of SPA that took place earlier in July and June through partnerships with the Curtis Institute of Music and the Juilliard School.)