CCM Professor Awadagin Pratt receives $100,000 grant

The acclaimed pianist won this award from the Sphinx Venture Fund

UC College-Conservatory of Music Professor of Piano and Artist-in-Residence Awadagin Pratt is one of three recipients of $100,000 in grant funding from the Sphinx Organization. Sphinx describes itself as a social justice organization dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts, with a strong focus on classical music.

Awadagin Pratt. Photo/Provided

Pratt plans to use the funding to create the biannual Nina Simone Piano Competition, which will be housed within Pratt’s Art of the Piano festival, an affiliate CCM program. This competition is open to young Black American pianists between the ages of 10 and 35 and will be divided into junior, senior, and young artist categories. The winners of each division will receive monetary winnings, performance opportunities and admittance into Art of the Piano.

Not only does Pratt hope to encourage young Black performers with the new competition, but he also plans to use some of the grant money to commission new works for piano. Applications for the inaugural event will open later this year. Read more about Pratt and the Nina Simone Piano Competition in the Cincinnati Business Courier

Cincinnati audiences can watch Pratt perform in upcoming concerts with Chamber Music Cincinnati on Sunday, Dec. 5 and Tuesday, Dec. 7. Pratt and Grammy-winning cellist Zuill Bailey will perform four of the great works for cello and piano by four of the world's greatest composers, including Beethoven and Mendelsshon. Learn more about the concert at Chamber Music Cincinnati's website.

About the Sphinx Organization

Focused on increasing representation of Black and Latinx artists in classical music and recognizing excellence, Sphinx programs serve beginner students to seasoned classical music professionals, as well as cultural entrepreneurs and administrators.

Sphinx began in 1997 as a singular initiative: the Sphinx Competition for young Black and Latinx string players. The goal of founder, violinist Aaron P. Dworkin, was to identify, empower, and support talented young artists and prepare them for professional careers in classical music.

Based in Detroit, Michigan, but with nationwide reach, Sphinx envisions a day where the classical music field looks like our communities: where every young person has the opportunity to express themselves and learn classical music; where audiences reflect the people we see on our streets; and where leadership—on stage and off—includes all deserving voices. Learn more at

About CCM Piano Studies

Piano study at CCM emphasizes the development of pianistic, musical, performing and teaching skills.

All degree programs are designed to integrate the great traditions of the past with the development of skills necessary for the demands of the music profession in the 21st century. The various degree programs are rigorous in their challenges, while retaining flexibility in order to address each student's relative strengths and weaknesses on an individual basis. Piano students at CCM can avail themselves of the enormous variety of programs offered by the college and the university to supplement the core music curriculum.

The philosophy of the CCM Piano Department is one of strong reliance on the mentoring process, by which the students' private teachers guide them both pianistically and musically, and advise them in all aspects of their overall education and development. Our goal is to prepare our students to excel in the demands of college life as well as to prepare them for the rigors of today's professional world.

Feature image at the top: Awadagin Pratt. Photo/Provided.

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Alexandra Doyle

CCM Graduate Assistant , Marketing + Communications

Alexandra Doyle is a doctoral candidate studying clarinet performance at CCM. Alexandra’s master’s degree is also from CCM, and she holds bachelor’s degrees in clarinet performance and journalism from the University of Houston.