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Aja Burrell Wood

National nonprofit organization founded in 1996 by University of Michigan graduates Aaron P(aul) Dworkin and Carrie Chester. Dworkin and Chester sought to increase cultural diversity in the field of classical music and simultaneously overcome cultural stereotypes. The mission of the organization is, first, to increase the participation of blacks and Latinos as students in music schools, as professional musicians, and as classical music audiences; and second, to administer youth development initiatives in underserved communities through music education and by providing high-quality musical instruments.

The Sphinx Competition, a cornerstone program, began in 1998 as an annual string competition for black and Latino classical string players, from junior high through college, who compete for prizes and scholarships. The organization has since expanded to include an additional 13 professional, educational, community outreach, and performance initiatives under their Artist Development, Sphinx Prep, Sphinx Performance Academy, Sphinx Legacy Project, and Sphinx Presents programs. Sphinx also currently maintains three ensembles comprised of critically acclaimed professionals: The Sphinx Symphony, Sphinx Virtuosi, and Catalyst Quartet. The organization also regularly commissions, programs, and archives works by black and Latino composers....