“All the hallmarks of a first-rate string ensemble were in place: its tone was warm and varied, it moved with unity and fluidity, and its textures were appealingly transparent. Those qualities, reconfigured to yield a trim, Classical sound, enlivened a brisk performance of Mendelssohn's youthful String Symphony No. 7."
- The New York Times
The SPHINX VIRTUOSI, led by the CATALYST QUARTET, is one of the nation's most dynamic professional chamber orchestras. Comprised of 18 of the nation's top Black and Latino classical soloists, these alumni of the internationally renowned Sphinx Competition come together each fall as cultural ambassadors to reach new audiences. This unique ensemble earned rave reviews from The New York Times during its highly acclaimed debut at Carnegie Hall in December 2004. Allan Kozinn described their performance as “first-rate in every way” and “the ensemble produced a more beautiful, precise and carefully shaped sound than some fully professional orchestras that come through Carnegie Hall in the course of the year.”
The Sphinx Virtuosi have returned to Carnegie Hall annually since 2006 performing to sold-out halls and earning outstanding reviews from The New York Times each year. At once a bridge between minority communities and the classical music establishment, the Sphinx Virtuosi continue to garner critical acclaim during their annual national tours to many of the leading venues around the country. The 2014 tour includes concerts at Chicago’s Harris Theater, the Krannert Center, the Lied Center of Kansas, the University of Texas, Austin and the University of Vermont.
Inspired by Sphinx’s overarching mission, the Sphinx Virtuosi works to advance diversity in classical music while engaging young and new audiences through performances of varied repertoire. Masterpieces by Bach, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi and Mozart are performed alongside the more seldom presented works by composers of color, including Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson, George Walker, Michael Abels and Astor Piazzolla, among others.
The four principals of the Sphinx Virtuosi are members of the Catalyst Quartet, which has independently garnered acclaim in performances around the world. (Karla Donehew Perez and Jessie Montgomery, violin; Paul Laraia, viola; and Karlos Rodriguez, cello.) Members of the Sphinx Virtuosi have performed as soloists with America's major orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Cleveland, Detroit, Atlanta, Philadelphia, Seattle, and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestras. Members also hold professional orchestral positions, and several have been named Laureates of other prestigious international competitions, including the Queen Elizabeth and Yehudi Menuhin. Roster members have completed and continue to pursue their advanced studies at the nation’s top music schools, including Juilliard, Curtis, Eastman, Peabody, Harvard, and the University of Michigan.
The Sphinx Virtuosi’s first recording was released in 2011 on the White Pine label and features music of Mendelssohn, Sibelius, Gabriela Lena Frank and George Walker.
TOURING in October 2016: SUITE LATINA featuring music of Latin America for string orchestra and string quartet by the Spanish composers Isaac Albeniz and Xavier Montsalvatge, Mexico's Manuel Ponce, and Astor Piazzolla and Osvaldo Golijov from Argentina.