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UPCOMING: Sphinx Organization Earns Joyce Award to Reimagine Start Spangled Banner - hosting City Salon on February 27th 2014

Sphinx Organization Receives Prestigious Joyce Award
Sphinx Organization and Composer Jessie Montgomery to create new work celebrating
the 200th anniversary of the Star Spangled Banner.

DETROIT, MI — The Joyce Foundation has named the Sphinx Organization and Composer Jessie Montgomery the recipient of a 2014 Joyce Award to support the creation, production and performance of "Banner!" a new work for string quartet that celebrates and reimagines the national anthem on its 200th anniversary.

The goal of "Banner!" is to compose a uniquely American work that reflects the increasingly diverse society in which we live. As composer of the work, Montgomery will draw influence from music forms such as rock, jazz, and folk music.

"The Star Spangled Banner is an ideal subject for exploration in contradictions. For most Americans, the song represents a paradigm of liberty and solidarity against fierce odds, and for others it implies a contradiction between the ideals of freedom and the realities of injustice and oppression," composer Jessie Montgomery said. "In 2014, a tribute to the U.S. National Anthem means acknowledging the contradictions, leaps and bounds, and milestones that allow us to celebrate and maintain the tradition of our ideals."

"Banner!" will premiere in October 2014 and travel nationally through the Sphinx Virtuosi Tour, which reaches more than 10,000 people a year. As a member and leader of the Sphinx Virtuosi, Montgomery will expand the reach of "Banner!" through special performances for schools, community centers and churches in underserved areas in each city, as well as Detroit.

The prestigious Joyce Awards recognize artists of color who collaborate with nonprofit institutions by awarding them $50,000 to commission thought-provoking works of art. An anonymous national panel of cultural organization and business leaders selects winners based on artistic merit, quality of work and community engagement in the artistic process.

"The Joyce Award is both an honor and an opportunity to advance the Sphinx mission of transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts," said Afa S. Dworkin, the Executive and Artistic Director of the Sphinx Organization. "With the support of the Joyce Foundation, we are able to create and perform a new work of classical music that reflects and is relevant to the diverse culture and society that defines America today. With "Banner!" we have the opportunity to make an artistic statement, create an impact, and reach new, young, and diverse audiences in our communities and across the country."

"Throughout the Joyce Awards' 11 years, we have been so proud to support over 35 community-oriented arts projects to diversify and engage audiences and artists," said Ellen Alberding, the President of the Joyce Foundation. "This year's endeavors bring strong voices to the table and showcase the incredible artistic talent of the winning artists, and we're excited to be part of the process."

Montgomery is one of four African American female Joyce Award recipients that include choreographer Camille A. Brown with DANCECleveland; and in Minneapolis, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Lynn Nottage with the Guthrie Theater and playwright Tracey Scott Wilson with the Pillsbury House Theatre.

As part of the announcement of this year's Joyce Awards, the Joyce Foundation will be hosting a "City Salon" event on February 27 in Detroit. The event is open to the public and is an opportunity for local artists and arts organizations to learn more about the Joyce Awards, how they can apply, and to hear Jessie Montgomery talk about the impact of the award and the "Banner!" project. The Joyce Foundation's City Salon will be held Feb. 27, 2014 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. at the Virgil H. Carr Cultural Arts Center in Detroit.

The Sphinx Organization is the Detroit arts and youth development non-profit organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts.
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