The 23-year-old has previously received an Avery Fisher Career Grant

Sterling Elliott

Sterling Elliott. Photo: Will Hawkins Photography

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US cellist Sterling Elliot has been named as one of three recipients of the Sphinx Organization’s 2024 Sphinx Medal of Excellence. The 23-year-old is currently a Kovner fellow at the Juilliard School, where he recently completed his master of music degree studying with Joel Krosnick and Clara Kim. He completed his undergraduate degree in cello performance at Juilliard in May 2021. The award comes with a $50,000 career grant.

Elliott has a long history with the Sphinx Organization: he took second place in the 2013 National Sphinx Competition’s junior division, then came first the following year. In 2016 he received the Organization’s Isaac Stern Award and toured with the Sphinx Virtuosi in 2018 before winning the senior division in 2019.

Elliott is also a recipient of a 2021 Avery Fisher Career Grant and was recently named the 2023 YCat Robey Artist. He will fulfil an ambassadorial role in partnership with Music Masters in London, delivering workshops and engaging with young learners in schools across the UK. He was also recently selected by the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Center for its Bowers Program, a three-year residency for exceptionally talented young artists. He performs on a 1741 Gennaro Gagliano cello on loan through the Robert F. Smith Fine String Patron Program, in partnership with the Sphinx Organization.

‘Sphinx has been the backbone in my musical life,’ Elliott commented, ‘providing community and mentorship since I was twelve years old. I’m incredibly grateful for the enriching experience I had playing alongside inspirational friends in programmes such as Sphinx Performance Academy, Sphinx Competition and Sphinx Virtuosi. These opportunities continue to provide a plethora of representation with leading artists of colour, and the chances for young musicians to become the stars we’ve always looked up to. Having grown up in this wonderful family, I am absolutely honoured to be awarded the Sphinx Medal of Excellence!’

The other two honorees this year are conductor Kalena Bovell and tenor David Portillo. Sphinx is dedicated to transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts, aiming to recognise artists who, early in their career, demonstrate artistic excellence and display an outstanding work ethic, a spirit of determination, and an ongoing commitment to leadership and their communities.


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