Sphinx Organization Announces 2022 Sphinx Venture Fund Grantees

By Chris Ruel

The Sphinx Organization has announced the recipients of its 2022 Sphinx Venture Fund grants.

The winning projects are the inaugural Nina Simone Piano Competition, the inaugural New York City Opera’s Duncan-Williams Voice Competition, and Composing Inclusion. The piano competition and Composing Inclusion will receive $100,000 in funding, and the voice competition, $97,500.

The Nina Simone Piano Competition, named in honor of the American musician and civil rights activist, is an initiative by pianist and President and Artistic Director of the Art of the Piano Festival & Foundation Awadagin Pratt. The competition for young Black pianists will be presented in partnership with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati. Winners will receive automatic admittance to the Art of the Piano Festival, performance opportunities in Cincinnati and elsewhere, and cash prizes. The inaugural competition will be held in Summer 2023 in Cincinnati.

New York City Opera (NYCO) and Manhattan School of Music (MSM) will launch the New York City Opera Duncan-Williams Voice Competition in 2023. The emerging Black and Latinx singers competition is named for NYCO history-making Black opera singers, baritone Todd Duncan (1903-1998) and soprano Camilla Williams (1919-2012). Finalists will present a concert at MSM’s Neidorff-Karpati Hall, with winners receiving cash prizes, NYCO contracts, and mentorships.

Composing Inclusion represents a partnership between The Juilliard School’s Preparatory Division, the New York Philharmonic, and American Composers Forum to commission Black and Latinx composers. Students, orchestral musicians, and composers will collaborate to create nine works, the premieres of which will be held virtually and in-person at top-level venues in New York, including David Geffen Hall and Juilliard’s Peter Jay Sharp Theater, and Paul Recital Hall. The works will also be published and shared with professional ensembles with youth music programs throughout the country.