philadelphia Alumnae Uses Music as Social action

Submitted by C. Gloria Akers and Arts & Letters Co-Chairs  Emilee Taylor and Crystal Clark

Hold fast to Dreams

if Dreams die

Life is a broken winged bird

That cannot fly.

– Langston Hughes

On Oct. 21, 2022 at 7:30 p.m. in Perelman Hall -The Kimmel Center, members of Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated attended a concert – not just any concert, but The Sphinx Virtuosi. What made their appearance in Philadelphia so special? Most importantly, who are they?

The Sphinx Organization is a social justice group dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Their four program areas – Education & Access, Artist Development, Performing Artists, and Arts Leadership – form a pipeline that develops and supports diversity and inclusion in classical music at every level: creative youth development, artist empowerment, career advancement, and administrative leadership, as well as service to the field.

In 2007, Soror C. Gloria Akers, was a member of the National Commission on Arts and Letters. She learned of this organization’s mission, and nominated Aaron Dworkin, Sphinx Organization Founder, for Delta’s highest honor – The Osceola Award, which was presented during the 2008 49th National Convention in Orlando, Florida.

What makes their delivery unique is that it is focused on increasing representation of Black and Latinx artists in classical music. Sphinx envisions a day where the classical music field looks as diverse as many of our communities.

Since 2008, Philadelphia Alumnae members have traveled to New York to attend annual Carnegie Hall Sphinx Virtuosi concerts and supported the Sphinx organization in many ways. The Sphinx Virtuosi is a dynamic and inspiring professional, self-conducted chamber orchestra and serves as the flagship performing entity of the Sphinx Organization. Comprised of 18 accomplished Black and Latinx artists, a critical aim of the Sphinx Virtuosi is to evolve and transform the face of classical music through artistic excellence, pioneering programming, and impassioned community engagement. Its members serve as cultural and diversity ambassadors for audiences and communities around the United States during its national tours.

After 14 years, on a beautiful evening in the city of brotherly love, Philadelphia Alumnae members culminated their support of the Sphinx Virtuosi in a partnership with the Philadelphia Chamber Music Society with an aim to broaden its audience and dream that Black and talented youth in the classical field receive the accolades and the opportunities to enrich the field of Music. Delta They use social action to fight for the opportunity for everyone to participate in the classical realm of music, not just a chosen few.

“We are challenged to see that the barriers of yesterday – the barriers built by prejudice, fear and indifference which are now crumbling – are not replaced by new barriers of apathy, of underdeveloped skills or lack of training. If this happens, our gains will be but temporary, our victories hollow.”  Whitney Young

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