Meet the Man Who's Taking Detroit's Classical Prodigies On the Road

Here’s a great idea for boosting exposure of minority classical musicians: Take the show on the road. That’s precisely what the Sphinx Organization, a Detroit-based classical music training organization, is doing with its innovative new partnership with IMG Artists, a global music management firm.

The idea is simple. Selected Sphinx students not only get to play with some of the best musicians on the planet, they also get to do it at festivals and events all over the planet. Behind it all is Aaron P. Dworkin, a violinist who founded the Sphinx Organization in 1996. Dworkin described the new relationship as "unusual" (in a good way, of course) in the sense that it is relatively rare for internationally-acclaimed classical musicians to perform on stage with teenagers. Sounds about right to us.

This would be great news regardless of which city was involved. But the fact that it's Detroit only sweetens the deal. The city’s woes, of course, are well-documented, and any effort that not only benefits Detroit’s minority artists and musicians but also exposes them to the wider world is brilliant. After all, it’s very likely that participating musicians will get to play with their heroes. And Dworkin isn't wasting any time. An ensemble of Sphinx’s best student players will fly out west later this year to perform at the Napa Valley Festival del Sole in the heart of wine California country.

In a way, the relationship between Sphinx and IMG reminds us of the "School of Rock," but instead of a pre-teen shredding a Van Halen solo, they're playing a Mozart concerto. And this is no small distinction. As Dworkin notes, this partnership helps to create a broader audience for classical music among young students. For example, we can envision music classes in the Napa Valley attending the aforementioned festival. If you’re an aspiring musician or simply a student with a fleeting interest in the arts, it’s pretty cool to see other kids playing with the world’s best classical musicians. (Check out IMG’s roster and you’ll see a who’s who of the world’s most well-known classical musicians.)

All in all, great stuff. Just one problem: The "School of Rock" analogy falls apart when we picture Dworkin, a violin virtuoso now approaching his 19th year as director of Sphinx, assuming the role of a disheveled Jack Black. It just doesn't work for us.