A pair of dark-skinned hands are shown with a conductor’s baton.

Celebrating the 2023 Sphinx Medals of Excellence Honorees

The Sphinx Medal of Excellence is one of the highest honors that a musician can receive from the Sphinx Organization. This honor not only celebrates diversity in classical music but it also helps those in the initial stages of their music careers to excel. The Sphinx Organization carefully selects individuals at the beginning of their careers who demonstrate artistic excellence, an outstanding work ethic and determination and show leadership throughout their respective communities. The three Black and Latinx musicians who receive this honor will each be awarded a $50,000 grant to help kickstart their careers in music. The 2023 Sphinx Medals of Excellence Honorees have been selected and we celebrate each of these finalists for their commitment to music and their communities.

Thomas Mesa, Cello

Meet Thomas Mesa – a Cuban-American cellist who has made an early name for himself having received several distinguished awards. Some of these recognitions include First Place in the Sphinx Competition, the inaugural Robert Frederick Smith Prize in 2016 and was a winner of the Astral Artists 2017 National Auditions. He’s had the honor of being a soloist with major orchestras including The Philadelphia Orchestra, The Los Angeles Philharmonic at the Hollywood Bowl and The Cleveland Orchestra just to name a few. Learn more about Thomas Mesa and his upcoming concerts.

Aundi Marie Moore, Soprano

Meet Aundi Marie Moore – an American soprano who quickly established herself and her talent singing “Strawberry Woman” in the Metropolitan Opera’s new production of “Porgy and Bess” last season. She’s had the honor of performing on many distinguished opera stages including Donna Elvira in “Don Giovanni” at L’Opéra de Monte Carlo for her international operatic debut, Nedda I in “Pagliacci” at Sarasota Opera, Mimi in “La Boheme” for Italy’s Amalfi Coast Festival and as Serena in “Porgy and Bess” at the Atlanta Virginia Operas, among many more. Learn more about Aundi Marie Moore and where she will be performing next.

Joel Thompson, Composer

Meet Joel Thompson – an Atlanta-based composer, conductor, pianist and educator who is committed to making positive changes in his community through music. He currently serves as a composer-in-residence at the Houston Grand Opera and the New Haven Symphony Orchestra. He has collaborated with many orchestras throughout the U.S. and his own work has been performed by ensembles including the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, the Atlanta Master Chorale, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, EXIGENCE and the San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus. Learn more about Joel Thompson and his dedication to creating a healing space through music.

Robert F. Smith’s Dedication to Diversity in Music

Through Smith’s philanthropic endeavors, he has made sure that classical musicians of color are recognized as they should be. He is the first African American named chairman of Carnegie Hall, and he supports the Sphinx Organization and their efforts to provide the resources and tools for these individuals to succeed.

“Music is at the core of the African-American and Latino cultural experience, and provides us with a language to inspire, uplift and empower our young people. I partnered with Sphinx to give this prize because Sphinx understands how music transforms lives and through its competition can recognize the very best musicians in the world.”

-Robert F. Smith
The Robert Frederick Smith Prize serves as a catalyst for young classical musicians to be successful in their careers while fulfilling Smith’s love for music. Learn more about other philanthropic initiatives that Smith supports.