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2023 Sphinx Medals of Excellence Recipients Announced

The Sphinx Organization awarded its highest honor to cellist Thomas Mesa, soprano Aundi Marie Moore, and composer Joel Thompson on March 1


Recognizing extraordinary Black and Latinx classical musicians, the Sphinx Medal of Excellence comes with a $50,000 career grant.

The Sphinx Organization, which is dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts, aims to recognize artists who early in their career demonstrate artistic excellence and display an outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and an ongoing commitment to leadership and their communities.

The three 2023 recipients were honored at the ceremony on March 1 for their "artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and an ongoing commitment to leadership and their communities."

Cuban-American cellist Thomas Mesa was the First Prize recipient of the Sphinx Competition inaugural Robert Frederick Smith Prize in 2016 and was a winner of the Astral Artists 2017 National Auditions. As a soloist, he has appeared as a soloist with The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl, The Cleveland Orchestra, Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra, Madison Symphony Orchestra, and New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, among numerous others. Within the upcoming 2022-2024 seasons, he will premiere and tour Jessie Montgomery’s Divided for solo cello and orchestra. He will also start a residency at Colburn Conservatory and curate and perform chamber music programs with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

Soprano Aundi Marie Moore had her Metropolitan Opera debut as Strawberry Woman in the Met’s 2020 production of Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess. Previous highlights include Donna Elvira (Don Giovanni, L'Opéra de Monte Carlo), Nedda (I Pagliacci, Sarasota Opera), and Mimi (La Boheme, Amalfi Coast Festival. She is a member of the Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program at the Washington National Opera. She has won the 2016 Bronze Medal at the American Traditions Competition and First Place at both the Florida Grand Opera Young Patronesses Voice Competition and Vocal Arts Discovery Series of Washington DC.

Joel Thompson is an Atlanta-based composer, conductor, pianist, and educator. Best known for the choral work, Seven Last Words of the Unarmed, he currently serves as composer-in-residence with the Houston Grand Opera (HGO). Thompson has collaborated with the New York Philharmonic, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, Chicago Sinfonietta, and Colorado Music Festival. He is also a composer-in-residence at the New Haven Symphony Orchestra.

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