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Competitions & Awards

Sphinx Organization Honors Three for Excellence

September 14, 2018 | By Nicholas Beard, Musical America

This year's Sphinx Medals of Excellence, the eighth annual round, will go to double bassist Joseph H. Conyers [pictured], soprano Raquel Gonzalez, and baritone Will Liverman. Designed specifically to honor Black/Latinx artists, the awards, which carry a $50,000 career development grant, recognize individuals who demonstrate “artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and ongoing commitment to leadership.”

Asked how and by whom they are chosen, Sphinx President and Artistic Director Afa Dworkin wrote in an email, “A national confidential nominating committee puts forward a pool of nominations. Then a separate smaller confidential committee makes final determinations, facilitated by me.”

Awardees are to be recognized next March at a black-tie dinner hosted by the Kennedy Center and The Aspen Institute.

Joseph H. Conyers is a 2004 Sphinx Competition laureate now in his eighth season as assistant principal bassist of the Philadelphia Orchestra. He is a member of the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center and is the 2018 recipient of his orchestra’s highest honor, the C. Hartman Kuhn Award. A music-education advocate, Conyers is music director of Philadelphia’s All-City Orchestra; executive director of Project 440, a leadership program for young musicians; and on the faculty of Temple University.  

Raquel González was a Toulmin Foundation Scholar at the Juilliard School, from which she holds a master’s degree. She just completed three seasons as a Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist at Washington National Opera, where she sang several major roles. She made her debut at Lyric Opera of Kansas City, her hometown, last season, singing Tatyana in a new production of Eugene Onegin.

Will Liverman, also a Juilliard grad, recently received the 3Arts Award for Chicago-based artists, and has won top prizes in competitions including the George London Foundation, the Gerda Lissner, and the Sullivan Foundation. Recent roles include Dizzy Gillespie in Charlie Parker’s Yardbird with Opera Philadelphia; Marcello in La Bohème at Portland Opera; and Andrew Hanley in Kevin Puts’s The Manchurian Candidate at Minnesota Opera. He makes his Met Opera debut in the coming season.


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