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Indiana Arts Commission

IAC > Workshops > Aaron P. Dworkin Aaron P. Dworkin

Aaron P. DworkinNamed a 2005 MacArthur Fellow, a former member of the Obama National Arts Policy Committee and President Obama’s first appointment to the National Council on the Arts, Aaron P. Dworkin is the Founder and President of the Sphinx Organization, the leading national arts organization that focuses on youth development and diversity in classical music.  An author, social entrepreneur, artist-citizen and an avid youth education advocate, he has received extensive national recognition for his vast accomplishments.  His memoir titled Uncommon Rhythm: A Black, White, Jewish, Jehovah's Witness, Irish Catholic Adoptee's Journey to Leadership was recently released through Aquarius Press.

He has been featured in People Magazine, on NBC’s Today Show and Nightly News with Brian Williams, CNN’s Airport Network-Innovator Series and Anderson Cooper 360°, named one of Newsweek’s 15 People Who Make America Great , NPR’s The Story and Performance Today (over 2 million listenership),  in addition to articles in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Detroit News and Free Press, Washington Post, Chronicle of Philanthropy, Emerge and Jet Magazines and many other media outlets. He is the recipient of Harvard University’s Vosgerchian Teaching Award, National Governors Association 2005 Distinguished Service to State Government Award, Detroit Symphony’s 2007 Lifetime Achievement Award, 2003 Michiganian of the Year, Crain’s 40 Under 40 and Who’s Who Awards, BET’s History Makers in the Making Award, AT&T Excellence in Education Award, University of Michigan’s African-American Alumni Council’s 5 Under 10 Award, "Entrepreneur Of The Year" award by the National Black MBA Association-Detroit Chapter, and Interlochen Arts Academy’s 2003 Path of Inspiration Award. He was also chosen as Angel in Adoption, Senator Levin’s 2011 Congressional Coalition on Adoption.

Mr. Dworkin authored an autobiographical poetry collection entitled They Said I Wasn’t Really Black as well as a children’s book entitled The 1st Adventure of Chilli Pepperz. His writings have been featured in Symphony Magazine, Polyphonic.org, Andante, an on-line music industry magazine and others.  He has contributed to the first English edition of Superior Bowing Technique, a treatise by legendary violinist Lucien Capet, and authored the foreword to William Grant Still’s Violin Collection published by WGS Music. Mr. Dworkin founded and served as Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of The Bard, a literary magazine with a readership of over 40,000 throughout southeast Michigan

A passionate advocate for excellence in music education and diversity in the performing arts, Mr. Dworkin has been a frequent keynote speaker and lecturer at numerous national conferences including Aspen Ideas Conference, The League of American Orchestras, National Association for Schools of Music, National Guild for Community School of the Arts, National Association of Music Merchants, Chautaqua Institution, National Suzuki Association, Americans for the Arts, American String Teachers Association, Ithaca College and the National Association for Negro Musicians.  Mr. Dworkin served as commencement speaker at the University of Michigan, Longy Conservatory as well as twice for the Bowling Green State University.  In May of 2013, he will also serve as the commencement speaker for the Curtis Institute of Music, a legendary institution that will bestow an Honorary Doctorate upon him.

He has served as a panelist on various arts committees, including the Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, the MetLife Awards for Excellence in Community Engagement, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies, the National Association of Arts Presenters, Chamber Music America, The National Endowment for the Arts, Michigan Council for Arts and Cultural Affairs, Surdna Foundation Arts Teachers Fellowship Program, as well as serving as a member of the University of Michigan School of Music Dean Search Committee.

He has produced and recorded two CDs entitled Ebony Rhythm and Bar-Talk, in addition to and producing and directing the independent film entitled Deliberation.  He has also transcribed works for electric strings and developed Electric String 201, a college-level preparatory course in electric string performance. 

An accomplished electric and acoustic violinist, Mr. Dworkin received his Bachelors of Music and Masters of Music in Violin Performance from the University of Michigan School of Music, graduating with high honors.  He attended the Peabody Institute, the Philadelphia New School and the Interlochen Arts Academy, studying with Vladimir Graffman, Berl Senofsky, Jascha Brodsky, John Eaken, Renata Knific, Donald Hopkins and Stephen Shipps.

In his role as a visionary leader, Mr. Dworkin has led two phases of strategic planning with The Sphinx Organization.  He also served as the Co-Chair of the Arts and Cultural Education Task Force for the State of Michigan designing the required arts curriculum for Michigan schools and serves as Co-Chair of the Planning Task Force which oversees the strategic merger of ArtServe Michigan (statewide arts advocacy organization) and MACAA (MI Assoc. of Community Arts Agencies).  In addition, Dworkin serves on other strategic planning committees including the League of American Symphony Orchestras. 

Mr. Dworkin currently serves on the Board of Directors of the League of American Orchestra, National Association of Performing Arts Presenters, National Society for the Gifted and Talented and Artserve Michigan. He is also serves on the Knight Foundation’s Arts Advisory Board, Advisory Board of ASTA Alternative Strings Awards, Rachel Barton Pine Foundation and the Avery Fisher Artist Program, Editorial Board of Downtown New York Magazine and Independent Sector’s NGen Awards Committee.

Mr. Dworkin offers a uniquely strong organizational, fundraising and administrative background combined with an unwavering passion for music and its role in society.  As Founder and President of The Sphinx Organization, he has built an infrastructure and led fundraising efforts totaling over 14 million dollars overseeing a staff and faculty of more than 40.  With over $150,000 in prizes and scholarships awarded annually, the Sphinx Competition showcases the top young musicians of color of the highest artistic caliber and features top professional minority musicians through the all Black and Latino Sphinx Symphony.  The organization also impacts groups underrepresented in classical music through its educational and community programming including the Sphinx Preparatory Music Institute and Sphinx Performance Academy which reach over 35,000 youth each year. 

A lifelong musician, Mr. Dworkin is an accomplished acoustic and electric violinist, a spoken-word and visual artist. He has strong interests in politics, world history and issues of economic and social injustice.  In addition to various genres of music, he enjoys travel and culinary arts.

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