July 10, 2019

CIM Welcomes Sphinx Performance Academy to Cleveland


Sphinx students
Photo by Hector R. Hernandez

The way to change the face of American classical music to better reflect the communities it serves is to recruit, empower and engage a community of exceptionally well-prepared student musicians of color and immerse them in high-quality training.

That’s exactly what gifted young African American and Latinx string artists attending the Sphinx Organization’s Performance Academy at the Cleveland Institute of Music will experience over the next two weeks.

The Sphinx Performance Academy (SPA) is a full scholarship summer chamber music and solo performance program designed for string players aged 11-17. Sphinx, based in Detroit, is dedicated to building diversity in the classical music industry through educational programs, artistic development and arts leadership.

CIM is also committed to offering better access to a classical music education for students from underrepresented communities. In fact, the 15 incoming African American and Latinx students in the fall of 2019 will join their peers at CIM where the diversity of the student body has increased by a remarkable 235 percent to an historic high: 15 percent of the 375 students.

“I am proud that CIM and the Sphinx Organization are bringing these aspiring young musicians to Cleveland. Partnerships like the one CIM established with Sphinx nearly three years ago provide opportunities for African American and Latinx students to study in an intense yet fulfilling environment,” said Paul W. Hogle, CIM’s president and CEO. “Together with our partners, CIM is committed to changing the face of conservatories, music schools and classical music so we will look more like the communities we serve as we pursue the future of this most important genre. Each student attending the Sphinx Performance Academy is doing this for the love of music and learning, and that inspires us to keep moving forward with the important work we’re doing.”

Richard Weiss
Richard Weiss, CIM faculty member and first assistant principal cello of The Cleveland Orchestra, teaching a master class to SPA students.

The SPA curriculum includes an intensive schedule of lessons and coachings in addition to master classes, recitals, career enrichment sessions and mentorship tailored for each student. The SPA-CIM program focuses on chamber music and solo repertoire and is for violin, viola and cello players.

SPA students will live on the Case Western Reserve University campus, study at CIM with Sphinx faculty and meet with admissions counselors from both schools to learn more about the music school admission process.

Familiar faces will serve as faculty for this year’s Sphinx Performance Academy, including five CIM alumni:

  • Jennifer Arnold (BM ’03, PS ’05, Vernon), viola faculty
  • Alex Cooke (DMA ’18, Fitch), music studies faculty
  • Karla Donahew Perez (BM ’06, MM ’08, Cerone), violin faculty
  • Mary Ann Ramos (MM ’06, Aaron), cello faculty
  • Karlos Rodriguez (BM ’00, Harris), violin faculty

Donahew-Perez and Rodriguez are members of the Catalyst Quartet, which is comprised of top laureates and alumni of the Sphinx Competition. Other faculty members include Kyle Lombard, violin; Jannina Norpoth, viola; Paul Laraia, viola; and Sami Merdinian, violin.