When he was three years old, Nygel Witherspoon began humming Sibelius’s Violin Concerto in D Minor, “note for note and perfectly in tune,” writes Kay Krihn in Friday’s (3/15) Star Tribune (Minneapolis). “The now 17-year-old Minneapolis cellist recently returned home from Detroit, where he won first place in the junior division of the renowned Sphinx Competition. The national competition recognizes classical music talent among junior high and high school students in the black and Latinx communities…. Witherspoon … inherited his talent and music appreciation from both sides of his family, including his great aunt, the late jazz vocalist Shirley Witherspoon. He’s won many local music competitions [and] has performed with the Minnesota Orchestra twice…. Still, Witherspoon doesn’t see himself as competitive. ‘I think it’s more important for students to have a supportive environment than a competitive one,’ he said…. Witherspoon’s love of music blossomed as he tagged along on violin and viola lessons with older siblings Alastair and Imala. Their teacher, David France, quickly noticed that … ‘He’d listen and absorb everything they did,’ France said…. He’s now a senior at Connections Academy Online School and attends postsecondary enrollment options (PSEO) classes at University of Minnesota.”

Posted March 18, 2019