MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Students from Columbia High School traveled to New York City’s Carnegie Hall on Friday, Oct. 11, to attend the 2019 Sphinx Virtuosi Concert.
The fourth annual trip was coordinated and chaperoned by James Manno, the school district’s fine arts supervisor, with additional chaperone support provided by parent and cellist Sarah Hewitt-Roth.
The musicians of the Detroit-based Sphinx Organization performed a timely program in conjunction with the nationwide 400 Years of Inequality initiative. Damien Sneed’s “Our Journey: 400 Years from Africa to Jamestown,” from his opera “We Shall Overcome,” explores the plight of Africans forced into slavery with musical styles from the African American diaspora, while Michael Abels’ “Global Warming” celebrated diverse cultures. There was also Philip Herbert’s moving string piece memorializing a teenage victim of racial violence, a new work by Xavier Foley co-commissioned by Carnegie Hall, and classics by Schubert and Bartok.
The students and staff loved the performances and virtuosity displayed by the Sphinx musicians.
“Seeing the Sphinx Virtuosi on Friday night was an incredibly formative experience and an immense joy,” CHS senior Imogen Pranger said. “Hearing fantastic, relatively unknown contemporary music was amazing, and pieces like the Bartok and Schubert were equally as incredible.”
“I enjoyed the Sphinx concert very much, and it was interesting to listen to music from such a wide variety of backgrounds and styles,” CHS junior Gabriel Roth said.
“The Sphinx Virtuosi performance demonstrated the skills necessary for success in any musical group, but what made the performance particularly meaningful was the privilege of seeing these skills applied to music, and the concepts and ideologies behind the music and repertoire selection, that high school students don’t often get to engage in,” CHS senior Hazel Allison-Way said.
“The Sphinx concert was an incredible experience, as always,” CHS junior Margaret Kate Andrejco said. “Seeing a range of music written by and performed by people of color in concert is unfortunately scarce, but Sphinx is changing that and empowering marginalized voices that we need to hear.”
“The Sphinx Virtuosi concert was a very fulfilling experience as a musician of color, specifically of Latin descent,” CHS senior Frida Rahmani said. “To see musicians of color excelling in their field is very inspiring and admirable.”
Photos Courtesy of James Manno