Cuban, St Lucian among 10 musicians in semi-finals of coveted Sphinx Competition

St. Lucia’s Caleb Georges (left) and Cuban prodigy Ismael Bombut (right) go head-to-head against eight other world-class string musicians at the 2020 Sphinx Competition semi-finals.

St Lucian Caleb Georges and Cuban Ismael Guerrero Bombut are among the stellar field of 10 semi-finalists in the senior division of the Sphinx Competition.

The Sphinx Competition, a national competition in the US, offers young Black and Latinx classical string players aged 18-30 a chance to compete under the guidance of an internationally renowned panel of judges, and to perform with and receive mentorship from established professional musicians.

The Caribbean stamps its mark at the 2020 Sphinx Competition semi-finals! Go St. Lucia! Viva la Cuba! (Photo:

The senior division finals concert will take place on February 8, 2020, at 7:30 pm in Detroit, Michigan.

All 10 semi-finalists, vying for the coveted Robert Frederick Smith Prize, seek the ultimate goal of solo appearances with major orchestras, and a performance with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra at the Finals Concert. The first-place winner also pockets a cool $US50,000.

Caleb, 27, plays the viola while Ismael, 29, plays the cello.

Caleb, who originally hails from Babonneau, St Lucia, is a product of the island’s School of Music (as both student and mentor), and currently attends the University of Michigan.

Caleb Georges of St. Lucia honed his viola skills at Bowling Green State University

He was named laureate of the 2016 Ohio Viola Society Competition, first prize at the 2015 Douglas Wayland Chamber Music Competition as well as the 2018 Dale & Nancy Briggs Chamber Competition. Most recently, Caleb placed third at the Senior Division 2019 Sphinx Competition.

As a recent recipient of the Sphinx Full Tuition Award, Caleb is currently pursuing a specialist degree at the University of Michigan under the tutelage in Professor Caroline Coade.

A committed chamber musician, earlier this year Caleb toured with the coveted Sphinx Virtuosi and also attended the Orpheus@Mannes Festival.

He is also the proud co-founder of the Ivalas Quartet, a group devoted to diversity in classical music. Between 2016 and 2019, with his quartet, Caleb had the opportunity to perform with artists such as the Calidore String Quartet, Danielle Belen, and Patricia Terry-Ross.

Ismael, originally from Havana, Cuba, began his cello studies at the tender age of eight.

Ismael Bombut in deep concentration (Photo: Instagram @Ismacello)

While in Cuba, he won several competitions and participated in masterclasses from renowned cellists such as Carlos Prieto, Clemen Hagens and Leidi Litschauer, among others.

The Cuban prodigy is now in the fourth year of his undergraduate studies at Peabody Conservatory, which he attends on full scholarship, studying with Amit Peled.

The remaining prizes for the Sphinx Competition include:

  • Second place: US$20,000 cash prize, performance with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra at the Finals Concert
  • Third place: $10,000 cash prize, performance with the Sphinx Symphony Orchestra at the Finals Concert
  • Audience Choice award: $5,000 cash prize, sponsored by Mercedes-Benz Financial Services.

Best of luck Isamel & Caleb! We know you both will do well reppin’ the Caribbean.