Sphinx Virtuosi and the Catalyst Quartet at the Norton Center give depth to Latin American Studies and African and African-American minors.

It is no secret how important role models are in the choices and development of children and young adults.  When asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” we look to those we admire, that we identify with, and often our first dreams are of becoming just like they are, doing what they do.  In a nation as diverse as the United States, with an African-American population of about 14% and a rising Latino population (about 17%), it is startling that less than 5% of classical musicians are Black or Latino.  Aaron P. Dworkin, a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, a Member of the Obama National Arts Policy Committee and President Obama’s first appointee to the National Council on the Arts, has been working for the past 17 years to change that.  He is the founder of the Sphinx organization, whose vision and mission is transforming “lives through the power of diversity in the arts.”  Its goal is to nurture and recognize Black and Latino classical string players and composers in the United States through several programs and scholarships, starting from a very young age through intensive training and professional opportunities.   The outcome expands the possibilities and dreams of youth while enriching the rest of the community.  In Dworkin’s words “by diversifying our classical music institutions, our art form will evolve and that I think is a benefit to everyone.”*

The Sphinx Orchestra and the Catalyst Quartet showcase the amazing talent of the students and alumni of the Sphinx Performance Academy and the Sphinx Competition.  These artists celebrate diversity in classical music, performing compositions by Black and Latino composers as well as more traditional composers.  The  organization seeks to bring to public attention the culturally, racially and ethnically diverse world of classical music, composers and  artists.  The passion and virtuosity of the members of the Sphinx Orchestra and the Catalyst Quartet reflect the richness of talent in the Black and Latino community and their contribution to the larger world  of  classical music. They also embody the spirit of the liberal arts with their commitment to bring classical music to underserved communities and to engender in all people the joy of music.  The SPHINX VIRTUOSI at Carnegie Hall 2011, PERFORMANCE

Centre College and the Norton Center are excited to host the Sphinx Virtuosi and the Catalyst Quartet for a phenomenal two-day event during which members of the orchestra will perform and meet with Danville students, perform mini concerts for the Danville Community and Northpoint prison, and give master classes and workshops.  Participants will engage in discussions about race, ethnicity and culture, about creating opportunities for youth and artists in Danville, and about the importance of diversity. In addition, Centre College’s Latin American and African American Studies programs see this as an exciting and enriching opportunity for students and faculty to develop an  ever more diverse  worldview, curriculum and community.  Join us as the Norton Center, Danville, and Centre College communities come together to learn about and enjoy the beauty and potential of our youth and our shared cultural heritage.

by Eva Maria Cadavid, Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Andrea Abrams, Assistant Professor of Anthropology and chair of Gender Studies and African & African American Studies Program 



Eva Cadavid joined Centre’s faculty in 2008 as an instructor of philosophy. Before coming to Centre, Cadavid taught at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, and also taught as an adjunct instructor at the Eastman School of Music. She graduated from Florida International University with a B.A. in philosophy and a B.S. in chemistry. She earned her master’s in philosophy from the University of Rochester and her Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Rochester. She is fluent in Spanish and English, and can read fluently in French and Ancient Greek.


Andrea Abrams came to Centre in 2007 as Centre’s first Consortium for Faculty Diversity at Liberal Arts Colleges Postdoctoral Fellow, and became assistant professor of anthropology in 2009. Before coming to Centre, Abrams taught at the University of Southern Mississippi, Emory University, Agnes Scott College, and Spelman College. Her research focuses on racial and gender issues in the South. Abrams has a B.A. in sociology and anthropology from Agnes Scott College. She earned a M.A. in anthropology, a graduate certificate in women’s studies, and a Ph.D. in anthropology from Emory University. To read about her 2011 course involving a Pay It Forward grant, click here.

Visit the Sphinx Virtuosi with Catalyst Quartet performance page at NortonCenter.com. 

*“Overcoming the Cultural Stereotypes of Classical Music” August 10, 2013. 

With special thanks to the Mellon Foundation for sponsoring this event.