Washington, D.C. Stanford Thompson, founder and CEO of Play On, Philly! (POP), was honored with the Sphinx Organization’s Sphinx Medal of Excellence on March 20, 2013. The award, given to Black and Latino leaders in classical music who demonstrate artistic excellence, outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and leadership potential, was presented by Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor at a ceremony at the United States Supreme Court in Washington, D.C.
Normally Sphinx awardees perform at the ceremony, but because Thompson was feted for his music education achievements, POP graduate Simone Rogers, performed in his stead. The Central High School freshman performed the Bach Cello Suite No. 1.
Founded in 1996, The Sphinx Organization seeks to encourage diversity in music. Some of its activities include the Sphinx Orchestra (with annual performances at Carnegie Hall), the Sphinx Competition of young Black and Latino players, the Sphinx Performance Academy and the Sphinx Global Scholars Program.
Thompson joined this year’s other distinguished recipients, pianist Jade Simmons and composer Gabriela Lena Frank. Last year’s winners were Metropolitan Opera principal clarinetist Anthony Gill, who performed at President Obama’s 2009 inauguration, and violinists Elena Urioste and Tai Murray. The award carries a $5,000 honorarium.
While Thompson, a trumpeter, maintains an active performance schedule, he was honored for his work at POP and his commitment to using music as an agent of social change. His belief that musical training develops skills essential to preparing children for challenging economic and social conditions drives the success of POP.
Thompson holds degrees from The Curtis Institute of Music and the New England Conservatory’s Abreu Fellows Program. He has performed and soloed with major orchestras around the world. He performs locally with the Black Pearl Orchestra, Philos Brass and The Philadelphia Wind Symphony. He also chairs the National Alliance of El Sistema Inspired Programs.
Commenting on the choice of Thompson as an honoree, Sphinx Founder and President, Aaron P. Dworkin said, “The incredible success that Stanford has already achieved is a clear indication that diversity and artistic excellence play important roles in classical music and in our communities.”
About Play On, Philly!:
Founded in 2011 by Curtis Institute graduate Stanford Thompson, Play On, Philly! (POP) seeks to enrich the lives of Philadelphia youth by providing daily after-school music education in underserved communities. POP takes its inspiration from El Sistema, the innovative educational and social development program of Venezuela. The benefits of POP are two-fold: through determination and hard work, students achieve musical excellence, as well as develop the academic, social and developmental skills necessary for future success. In just over two years, POP has grown to serve 200 children at two schools, providing instrumental instruction as well as choir, general music, chamber music and orchestra. POP students perform over 30 concerts each year in their communities and throughout the Philadelphia area.
Please contact Ilene Miller at 610-304-7451, Ilene@playonphilly.org or visit www.playonphilly.org for further information.
Founded in 1996 by Aaron P. Dworkin, the Sphinx Organization is the national organization focused on transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. Sphinx programs include the annual Sphinx Competition for young Black and Latino string players, afterschool and summer music education programs for young musicians, a national tour of the Sphinx Virtuosi and Catalyst Quartet, annual performances at Carnegie Hall praised as “first-rate in every way” by The New York Times, as well as Sphinx Global Scholars, our international efforts. As Sphinx has grown to serve more than 30,000 students, our work has attracted attention from NBC’s Today, People Magazine, NPR, CNN, The Washington Post, Discovery Channel, Good Morning America, and the Chronicle of Philanthropy. In 2011, Sphinx founder Aaron P. Dworkin was President Obama’s first appointee to the National Council on the Arts. Visit us online atwww.SphinxMusic.org.