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Sphinx Prize Winners

Two Prep, One College Student Take Honors

Three NEC Students Win Prizes in 15th Sphinx Competition

Lev Mamuya, Tristan Flores, Junior Division Prize Winners, Study in NEC Preparatory School and Project STEP

Senior Division Prize Winner, Danielle Wiebe, a Student of Kim Kashkashian in the NEC College

Two NEC Preparatory students, cellist Lev Mamuya, 15 (in photo right), and violinist Tristan Flores, 13 (below right), won second and third prize respectively in the junior division of the 15th annual Sphinx Competition in Detroit, Michigan. Danielle Wiebe ‘13, a viola student of Kim Kashkashian in the NEC College, placed third in the senior division. The competition, sponsored by DTE Energy Foundation, took place Feb. 8—12.  

Although all competitions engender a certain amount of drama, there was more than usual at this one. After early rounds were held in the Detroit Symphony’s Orchestra Hall, the finals concert had to be moved to the University of Michigan’s Hill Auditorium in Ann Arbor in the wake of a sewer gas explosion. Orchestra Hall was closed for several days after sustaining some damage to the lower floors but reopened Feb. 14.

Founded in 1996 by Aaron P. Dworkin, a violinist and graduate of the Interlochen Arts Academy and the University of Michigan, and Carrie A. Chester, a graduate of the University of Michigan, the Sphinx Organization was created “to increase the participation of Blacks and Latinos in music schools, as professional musicians, and as classical music audiences” as well as “to administer youth development initiatives in underserved communities through music education and to promote the creation, performance, and preservation of works by Black and Latino composers.” Among the musicians mentored by Sphinx is the Harlem Quartet, now in residence at NEC as part of the Professional String Quartet Training Program. Other recent Sphinx prize winners from NEC include cellist Tony Rymer and violist Paul Laraia who each won first place in the senior division in 2009 and 2011.

Mamuya, who lives in Newton Highlands, studies with Michael Reynolds. He has been a soloist with the Cape Cod Symphony and New Philharmonia Orchestra; a 1st prize winner in the Newton Symphony Orchestra Concerto Competition; and has made solo appearances on From the Top radio and television programs. He is a member of NEC’s Youth Philharmonic Orchestra.

Flores, who lives in Lexington, MA, studies with Peter Zazofsky. He has previously taken 2nd place in the 2010 New England Conservatory Concerto Competition, served as Assistant Concert Master, Boston Youth Symphony Orchestra; played in the First Violin section of the NEC Youth Philharmonic Orchestra. He is a full scholarship recipient from Project STEP.

Wiebe (in photo right), who hails from Alberta, Canada, studies viola with Kim Kashkashian. She has been a Finalist in the Music Academy of the West Concerto Competition; Winner, Calgary Concerto Competition; Winner, Calgary Youth Orchestra Concerto Competition; Finalist, Canadian Music Competition; Winner, Alberta Provincial Music Festival.


Recognized nationally and internationally as a leader among music schools, New England Conservatory in Boston, MA offers rigorous training in an intimate, nurturing community to 720 undergraduate, graduate, and doctoral music students from around the world.  Its faculty of 225 boasts internationally esteemed artist-teachers and scholars.  Its alumni go on to fill orchestra chairs, concert hall stages, jazz clubs, recording studios, and arts management positions worldwide.  Nearly half of the Boston Symphony Orchestra is composed of NEC trained musicians and faculty.

The oldest independent school of music in the United States, NEC was founded in 1867 by Eben Tourjee. Its curriculum is remarkable for its wide range of styles and traditions.  On the college level, it features training in classical, jazz, contemporary improvisation, world and early music. Through its Preparatory School, School of Continuing Education, and Community Programs and Partnerships Program, it provides training and performance opportunities for children, pre-college students, adults, and seniors.  Through its outreach projects, it allows young musicians to engage with non-traditional audiences in schools, hospitals, and nursing homes—thereby bringing pleasure to new listeners and enlarging the universe for classical music, jazz, and contemporary improvisation.

NEC presents more than 900 free concerts each year, many of them in Jordan Hall, its world- renowned, century-old, beautifully restored concert hall.  These programs range from solo recitals to chamber music to orchestral programs to jazz, contemporary improvisation, and opera scenes.  Every year, NEC’s opera studies department also presents two fully staged opera productions at the Cutler Majestic Theatre or Paramount Theatre in Boston.

NEC is co-founder and educational partner of From the Top, a weekly radio program that celebrates outstanding young classical musicians from the entire country. With its broadcast home in Jordan Hall, the show is now carried by National Public Radio and is heard on 250 stations throughout the United States.

Contact: Ellen Pfeifer
Public Relations Manager
New England Conservatory
290 Huntington Ave.
Boston, MA 02115