At Sphinx’s Carnegie concert, an inventive tribute to “Star-Spangled Banner”

Posted on: October 31, 2014

In Friday’s (10/31) New York Times, Anthony Tommasini writes that composer and violinist Jessie Montgomery has written a tribute to the 200th anniversary of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” a work commissioned by the Sphinx Organization, founded in 1996 by Aaron P. Dworkin to promote diversity within classical music by training black and Latino students. Montgomery is a violinist/composer and Sphinx alumna. Each year, “Sphinx Virtuosi, the group’s ensemble of 18 string players, all prizewinning alumni … come together for a national tour, including a stop at Carnegie Hall, where on Wednesday night the Sphinx Virtuosi, along with the Catalyst Quartet (the four principal players from the ensemble, including Ms. Montgomery) ended this year’s 14-city tour. ‘Banner,’ scored for a string quartet and string ensemble, concluded a rewarding 90-minute program of recent American works…. Montgomery structured the work, as she explained to the audience, in the manner of marching-band music, with a stretch of contrasting episodes and a heady finale. She daringly transforms the anthem, folding it into a teeming score that draws upon American folk and protest songs, and anthems from around the world…. During a [concert] break, Mr. Dworkin shared some encouraging numbers with the audience: Through its various programs, Sphinx is reaching some 80,000 young people from 60 cities in 30 states.”

Posted October 31, 2014