Named one of Musical America’s Top 30 Influencers in the nation, Kennedy Center’s Human Spirit Award recipient and Detroit Crain’s 40 Under 40, Afa Sadykhly Dworkin is a musical thought leader and cross-sector strategist driving national programming that promotes diversity in classical music. She serves as President and Artistic Director of the Sphinx Organization, the nation’s leading organization transforming lives through the power of diversity in the arts. In this role, she oversees all fundraising, strategic and artistic initiatives through which Sphinx expands access to classical music education and supports a national roster of distinguished musicians of color, while annually reaching 10,000 through its programming and more than 2 million through live and broadcast audiences. During her tenure, Ms. Dworkin is responsible for architecting and developing Sphinx’s programming since its inception expanded the organization’s international partner network to 100+ foundations and leading enterprises, resulting in the organization’s most successful fundraising campaign in its twenty-five history. Under her leadership, her team’s national artistic network has also grown to nearly 100+ symphony orchestras, enabling Sphinx to continue scaling its programming to new audiences worldwide. The strength of Ms. Dworkin’s leadership across sectors and national divides is informed by her musical training, 25+ years of experience in the field, as well as her international corporate experience as a trilingual interpreter and Executive Assistant to the President of ARCO, The International Oil and Gas Company in Baku, Azerbaijan.
Catharine Soros is a passionate dance advocate. She was the president of Center Dance Arts, was a founder for L.A. Dance Project and is the board chair of Ate9 Dance Company. She has commissioned numerous dance works, and was a lead commissioner of the VisionIntoArt multidisciplinary film project now on PBS, The Colorado. She was a former ballet dancer, and has two marvelous children.
Daniel Oxenhandler is a filmmaker, and interdisciplinary cultural producer. He focuses on developing interdisciplinary arts projects which bring together unique intersections of film, media, and technology; arts and culture; academic research; and community, in order to explore complex social issues across cultures and geographies. As a filmmaker, he has directed + produced a variety of independent film and video projects, ranging from feature-length documentaries and short narrative films, to short music films and travelogues. His most recent documentary film, The Open Window, saw its premiere at the CPH:DOX Film Festival 2019. As an interdisciplinary producer, he has played a leading role in designing, curating and organizing international arts, culture, and innovation festivals and projects (theater, music, etc) in India, Mexico, Denmark, the US, and across the world. He has lived, learned and worked around the globe - in Brazil, Mexico, India, Spain, Denmark and the US.
Edward Yim is the Chief Content Officer and Senior Vice President of WQXR. He is responsible for developing and implementing a strategic vision that helps WQXR reach a broader, more inclusive audience, drives digital innovation, bolsters the station’s role in New York City’s arts and culture ecosystem, and increases WQXR’s relevance and service to the city’s communities. Collaborating with teams across NYPR, Yim oversees all of WQXR’s programming and operations, from live broadcasts, podcasts and digital content to strategic partnerships, events and community engagement. He is also responsible for managing the station’s operating budget, and fundraising across NYPR’s diversified revenue base of members, donors, and sponsors.
Jeffrey Zeigler is one of the most innovative and versatile cellists of our time. He has been described as “fiery”, and a player who performs “with unforced simplicity and beauty of tone” by the New York Times. Acclaimed for his independent streak, Zeigler has commissioned dozens of works, and is admired as a potent collaborator and unique improviser. As a member of the Kronos Quartet, he is the recipient of the Avery Fisher Prize, the Polar Music Prize, the President’s Merit Award from the National Academy of Recorded Arts (Grammy’s), the Chamber Music America National Service Award and The Asia Society's Cultural Achievement Award.
This Fall, Zeigler will release his next album, Houses of Zodiac: Poems for Cello with music by Paola Prestini. It will be a multimedia experience that combines spoken word, movement, music, and imagery into a unified exploration of love, loss, trauma and healing. The project takes its title from the twelve houses of the zodiac as facets of the self, and draws inspiration from explorations of the subconscious including Anaïs Nin’s House of Incest and the poetry of Pablo Neruda, Brenda Shaughnessy, and Natasha Trethewey. Filmed by Murat Eyüboglu at MASS MoCA and Studio Polygons in Tokyo, Japan, the digital experience will feature the performances and original choreography of New York City Ballet soloist Georgina Pazcoguin and Butoh dancer Dai Matsuoka, a member of the acclaimed Butoh troupe Sankai Juku.
Jill Steinberg is a photographer who photographs the many incarnations of live performance from opera to theater to dance to jazz to orchestral and chamber music as well as taking stills during film and video shoots. Jill has captured performances at large venues: The Kennedy Center, The Krannert Center, Park Avenue Armory, the Barbican Centre, BEMUS in Serbia, Teatro Manzoni in Milan, and Etnafest in Sicily, The Monte Carlo Opera House, the Banff Theatre in Canada, The New Vic in NYC, Da Camera in Houston and Disney Hall in LA as well as smaller spaces like National Sawdust, Pioneer Works, Bay Chamber Music Festival, Juilliard’s Innovative Arts Dept, The Greene Space, St John's the Divine church. Jill has photographed indoors and outside, during daylight, at dusk and at midnight. She has worked with Beth Morrison Projects, Family Opera Initiative/ARDEA Arts, Heartbeat Opera, Sister Sylvester, and the terraNOVA Collective and has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, Time Out Amsterdam, BOMB, Drome Magazine, Music Listening Today, and University of California at Irvine's INTERFACE magazine among others. Jill Steinberg is the Board President of National Sawdust, a nonprofit venue whose mission is rooted in music discovery that is open, inclusive, and based in active mentorship of emerging artists, while building new audiences and communities of music devotees, Jill is a member and official photographer of the Up Until Now Collective that develops and produces new interdisciplinary work that explores empathy, intimacy, and community. She is also a Board member of Heartbeat Opera whose mission is to create incisive adaptations and revelatory arrangements of classics, reimagining them for the here and now. Jill is a Professional Company Member of OPERA America, and a former member of OPERA America’s Board of Directors. She and her husband, William Steinberg, are founding donors to the National Opera Center. In these various capacities, Jill is a champion of both artists and their art.
Nicholas Arons is a partner at Katsky Korins LLP, where his practice is devoted to representing start up companies in the tech, spirits, sports, green energy, restaurant, and music space; non profit organizations; charitable foundations; artists; and musicians. He has served as outside general counsel for mid-size businesses and non-profit organizations including family foundations, and at the beginning of his legal career, as law clerk to the Hon. Rosemary S. Pooler, on the U.S. Second Circuit Court of Appeals. He was a Fulbright Scholar in Brazil (2000), and his research on oral poetry was published as a book by the University of Arizona Press. He is the founding director of Islands First, an organization that helps small islands combat climate change, and he is fluent in Portuguese and Spanish. At NYU School of Law, he was a Hays Civil Liberties Fellow and Institute for International Law and Justice Fellow, working on civil liberties litigation in New York and international refugee law matters in Geneva. At Yale University he majored in Latin American Studies.
Composer Paola Prestini has collaborated with poets, filmmakers, and scientists in large-scale multimedia works that chart her interest in extra-musical themes ranging from the cosmos to the environment. She has created, written and produced large scale projects such as the largest communal VR opera, The Hubble Cantata, and the eco-documentary currently on PBS, The Colorado. As an immigrant, many identities, cultures, and values have collided and interlocked within her helping create a synthesis of both unique and universal ideas that naturally manifest into music. On a more granular level, folk melody is infused into the creation of original melodic lines that are deconstructed then supported with complex harmonies, rhythms, counterpoint and electronic worlds. Her work incorporates improvisation, live electronics, foley, and spatial elements. It is of the moment, political, ambitious, and always curious.
Kristin Lancino has been an arts administrator for over 30 years. Her work has included being head of Artistic Planning for both Carnegie Hall and Chamber Music Society Lincoln Center which also included oversight on all educational activities. For seven years Kristin ran the north American operation for G. Schirmer music publishing working closely with composers of today. She has also served as a project advisor to performing artists and organizations nationwide
Kristin graduated from Oberlin Conservatory with a Piano Performance degree as well as a Master of Teaching. She resides both in New York City and rural France.
Ras Dia is a Brooklyn-born, Harlem-bred creative working at the intersection of inspiration and empowerment in the arts. His work has been described as “stirring” (Washington Post), “bracing, compelling, and heartbreaking” (Musical America), and “grippingly produced” (The Boston Globe). Recent projects include Heartbeat Opera’s BREATHING FREE: a visual album, the Frederick R. Koch Foundation’s Townhouse Series, San Francisco Symphony’s MTT25: An American Icon, San Francisco Opera’s In Song, and the inaugural season of Little Island, a public park and arts organization developed by the Diller-von Furstenberg Family Foundation.
Ras previously served as the Assistant Producer of the Metropolitan Opera’s Peabody- and Emmy award-winning Live in HD series, and as the Managing Director of the New York City Master Chorale, in addition to marketing, development, production, and administrative roles with the National Children’s Chorus, Sadler’s Wells Theatre, Carnegie Hall, The New School, where he supported programs for immigrant, refugee, and survivor communities across New York City, and National Sawdust, where he produced the Artists-in-Residence program, and co-created SAUCE, a series of artist sessions.
He is a 2021-22 Artist Scholar at the Manhattan School of Music (MSM), and a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music & Drama, Purchase College (SUNY), as well as the Boy’s Choir of Harlem, and has appeared as a guest speaker for the National YoungArts Foundation, Amherst College, the Black Artists Fund, and MSM, in addition to serving as a grant panelist for OPERA America.