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February 16, 2007

Music For All


This past weekend, 20-year-old Latina violinist Elena Urioste won first prize in The Sphinx Competition, a national contest designed to showcase the talent of minority classical musicians. It's the second win for Elena, and it's made a difference. She has performed with symphony orchestras in Atlanta, Cleveland and Boston.  

Elena's achievement is precisely what Aaron Dworkin had in mind when he founded the Sphinx Organization.

Aaron is himself a violinist, but he recalls that from the outset, people were most interested in asking him how it was that a black kid got interested in the violin.

A lot of times people would ask me, "Oh well, you know, how do you identify yourself?" And my quick response, and I think still to this day, is that I'm Aaron. First and foremost.  And in that is encompassed a number of different things, including: black, white, Jehovah's Witness, Irish Catholic, Jew who plays the violin, and used to have a big Afro …  I've never really fit into any one group.
-Aaron Dworkin


It's been a while since we've heard from Ahmed Abdullah. Ahmed keeps a diary for The Story from Baghdad where he lives and works as a journalist. 

The last few weeks have been one of the worst periods for car bombs and factional violence. A grenade from a rocket-propelled grenade launcher landed in his backyard a while back. It blew out all of his windows and severed his internet connection. It took Ahmed a long time to get everything working again.

Ahmed tells us that right now in Baghdad, events that would normally be fun occasions are now just fractured reflections of the chaos where he lives.

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