Bienen School of Music alumni Alex Laing ’96 and Kenneth Thompkins ’89 are among the recipients of a 2022 MPower Artist Grant from the Sphinx Organization. The competitive scholarships are designed to empower Sphinx alumni to achieve their career objectives in classical music.

Laing received a $15,000 grant, which will allow him to host a two-day speculative futures workshop leading to the publication of a volume about the American Orchestra, titled “Sound Systems.” Active as a performing and teaching artist, Laing is committed to exploring how an orchestral musician and an orchestra navigate the push and pull between a legacy art form and its unfixed future. In addition to his work as principal clarinet of the Phoenix Symphony, Laing is frequently sought as a collaborator. He has also been an invited speaker at the annual conferences of the Association of British Orchestras and the League of American Orchestras.

Thompkins received a $10,000 grant, which will aid in the recording of chamber music pieces for trombone written by black composers. He is currently principal trombone of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra and has held position in the Buffalo Philharmonic and the Florida Orchestra. Thompkins has toured Europe with the Los Angeles Philharmonic and has also performed with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, San Francisco Symphony, New York Philharmonic, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra. An active chamber musician, he performs frequently in recital and is a member of Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings.

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