Competitions & Awards

Sphinx Announces Annual Excellence Awards

July 16, 2020 | By Sarah Shay, Musical America

The Detroit-based Sphinx Organization, with a stated mission of “transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts,” has announced three recipients of the 2021 Medal of Excellence. The award, which includes a $50,000 career grant, is given to young artists who “demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and an ongoing commitment to leadership and their communities.”

The 2021 winners are composer Carlos Simon, conductor Lina González-Granados, and oboist Titus Underwood. They will receive their award at a private luncheon co-hosted by The Kennedy Center, and will also be celebrated at a future black-tie event in Washington, D.C.

Carlos Simon, a native of Atlanta, composes works that range from concert music for large and small ensembles to film scores with jazz, gospel, and neo-romantic influences. Named a Sundance/Time Warner Composer Fellow, Simon has had his music performed by the Philadelphia Orchestra, Saint Louis Symphony, Boston Pops, and other ensembles.

"This award allows me to continue my journey in telling the stories of my culture through music,” Simon said in response to the award.

Lina González-Granados is the current Solti Conducting Apprentice at the Chicago Symphony and a conducting fellow of the Philadelphia Orchestra and the Seattle Symphony. She is also the artistic director of Unitas Ensemble, which performs works by Latinx composers and provides free performances for underserved communities.

"As the first Latina conductor to receive the Sphinx Medal of Excellence,” González-Granados says she hopes “to keep paving the way for my fellow Latina colleagues so when they reach the top, the landscape embraces them fully and looks equitable and amicable."

Titus Underwood, principal oboe of the Nashville Symphony, received his MM from the Juilliard School and his BM from the Cleveland Institute.

"The Sphinx Organization has always meant a lot to me, as my late sister Naira was a Sphinx (violin) alum who introduced me to the organization over 15 years ago,” noted Underwood. “Receiving this award will allow me to fund other projects that will hopefully inspire other future trailblazers in the industry."




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