August 24, 2022

A future in music comes into focus at Sphinx Performance Academy at CIM

Violinist Abby Regua and another Sphinx Performance Academy work together in Mixon Hall
Violinist Abby Regua, left, found her experience at CIM's Sphinx Performance Academy "life-altering."

For 16-year-old violinist Abby Regua, the Sphinx Performance Academy CIM hosted July 23-Aug. 6 was much more than just another music camp. It was a revelation.  

Regua, who lives in the Philippines, came to CIM unsure of what to expect and found a cadre of young Black and Latinx people who share not only her passion but also her skin tone. For once, she wasn’t in the minority. She was among her peers.  

“It was one of the most life-altering experiences ever,” said Regua, who also speaks Tagalog and Mandarin, by Zoom from her home outside Manila. “Seeing so many people who look like me, and who play at such a high level, was astounding.” 

That Regua was in for something special became apparent even before she got to CIM. While on layover in New York, Regua encountered another student headed to the Sphinx Performance Academy (SPA) and immediately struck up a friendship, the first of many.  

Things only went uphill from there. At CIM, Regua was shocked by the intensity of the program, offered by the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization, but quickly came to savor what she realized might be a glimpse of her future. Over the program’s two weeks, she blossomed among other students contemplating a career in music.  

“To see the caliber of their playing was just mind-blowing,” Regua said. “It gave me insight on what conservatory life might be like. It changed my perspective.” 

Regua’s path to Cleveland was curvy, to say the least. Although she was born near Los Angeles, she grew up in the Washington, DC and Boston areas and later moved with her family to China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Philippines.  

Her exposure to music was similarly fortuitous. While living in Africa, Regua’s largely non-musical family received a violin as a gift, and she took it up, unfazed by its too-large size. Lessons commenced at age 7, and by 9, Regua was all-in. 

Now, after the SPA, Regua is starting to see music as her destiny and believe CIM’s program materials which call her “the future of classical music.”  

A potential future in music isn’t all that came into focus for Regua at the SPA. Now she’s also picturing a future in Cleveland, where CIM’s Joint Music Program with Case Western Reserve University would allow her to pursue her other passions, robotics and veterinary medicine.  

“Being around my peers, it became a lot clearer for me that this is something I want to do,” Regua said. “I realized this is something I really love doing. I feel like my life has changed, and it’s only been a few weeks.”