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BREAKING | Prize Winners Announced at Sphinx Competition 2023 Junior Division

The Sphinx Organization announced 17-year-old cellist Brandon Leonard as this year's first prize winner


Organized by the Sphinx Organization, the national Sphinx Competition is an annual event that offers young Black and Latinx classical string players the opportunity to perform before an internationally renowned jury and be mentored by top industry professionals.

As the 2023 first prize winner, cellist Brandon Leonard will receive $10,000 USD, a number of solo appearances with major orchestras, and a nationally-broadcast radio appearance on From the Top.

Second prize went to 16-year-old violinist Gabriela Salvador Riera, who will receive $5,000, while third prize and $3,000 went to 17-year-old Vincent Garcia-Hettinger.

You can watch their performances at this year's Junior Division Finals, here!



Hailing from Stone Mountain, Georgia, Brandon Leonard started playing the cello in the fourth grade at Kittredge Magnet School in Atlanta. A current member of the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra (ASYO), he studies music with Karen Freer at the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Talent Development Program.

Brandon has won prizes at the Georgia Philharmonic Samuel Fordis Young Artists Competition, Hilton Head Concerto Competition, and Center Stage Strings Young Artist Solo Competition. In 2020, he won 2nd prize in the Sphinx Competition Junior Division.

A current student at Chamblee Charter High School, he has participated in the Atlanta Chamber Music Festival, the Tanglewood Junior Strings Intensive program, and the Center Stage Strings program at the University of Michigan. He has also served as the principal cellist of the Georgia Music Educator’s Association (GMEA) All State Orchestra and as the Metropolitan Youth Symphony Orchestra (MYSO).


In the Junior Division Finals, the three finalists performed with conductor Kalena Bovell and the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra, the all-Black and Latinx orchestra comprised of top professionals from around the country.

The 2023 jury comprised Joseph Conyers, Zuill Bailey, Juan-Miguel Hernandez, Patrice Jackson, Jennifer Koh, Michael Kondziolka, and Erik Ronmark.

The Sphinx Competition 2023 Senior Division Finals will take place tomorrow, Saturday 28 at 7:30 PM (ET). Tune in to watch here on The Violin Channel!

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