Music Center Honors Teen Finalists at 24th Annual Spotlight Awards. First place and Runner-up awards named.

For Immediate Release: April 30, 2012

First Place and Runner-up Awards Named

LOS ANGELES (April 30, 2012) – The Music Center celebrated 12 performing artists and four visual artists at the 24th Annual Music Center Spotlight Awards during a finale performance hosted by Tony Award-winner Ben Vereen at the Music Center's Dorothy Chandler Pavilion on Saturday, April 28, 2012.

The event was the culmination of the year-long program, during which over 2,300 high school students participated. More than $100,000 in cash scholarships was awarded to participants, with $5,000 for students receiving first place and $4,000 for the runners-up in each category. "We are so proud of the remarkable passion, talent, and achievement of these students," said Mark Slavkin, Music Center Vice President for Education. "We have been so honored to work with these young artists in Spotlight and know they are destined to make major contributions to the world of the arts," added Jeri Gaile, Director of the Spotlight program.

Performing arts and visual arts finalists receiving first place and runner-up awards included:

Non-Classical Voice: First place was Elizabeth Romero, 17, a senior at Huntington Beach High School's Academy for the Performing Arts, and runner-up was Mason Alexander Park, 16, a junior at Ramón C. Cortines High School of Visual and Performing Arts.

Non-Classical Dance: First place was Cammi Nevarez, 18, a senior at Southern California Online Academy, and runner-up was Sam Cantoria, 16, a junior at John F. Kennedy Middle College High School.

Classical Voice: First place was April Cho, 16, a junior at Marlborough School, and runner-up was Justin Lewis, 17, a senior at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

Ballet: First place was Tyler Donatelli, 15, a freshman at Huntington Beach High School, and runner-up was Tiana Lovett, 15, a freshman at Julian Charter School.

Jazz Instrumental: First place was Jeremy Corren, 17, a junior at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, and runner-up was Jacob Shulman, 17, a senior at Los Angeles County High School for the Arts.

Classical Instrumental: First place was Phoebe Pan, 14, a freshman at Pacific Academy, and runner-up was Jessie Chen, 17, a senior at Palos Verdes Peninsula High School.

Photography: First place was Sophie Levine, 14, a freshman at Crossroads School for Arts and Sciences, and runner-up was Shelby Anne Burney, 17, a senior at Los Alamitos High School.

Two-Dimensional Art: First place was Brian Wang, 18, a senior at John F. Kennedy High School, and runner-up was Youngeun Oh, 18, a senior at New Open World Academy.

The evening's performances were judged by an esteemed panel of performing arts celebrity judges including: 1) For non-classical voice: Casting Director for Center Theatre Group, Mark Simon; Tony Award-winner Award, Marissa Jaret Winokur; and two-time Obie Award winner, Charlayne Woodard; 2) For classical voice: Metropolitan Opera and LA Opera tenor Greg Fedderly; Celebrated soprano/mezzo soprano Juliana Gondek; and head coach for LA Opera's Domingo-Thornton Young Artist Program Joshua Winograde; 3) For non-classical dance: Artistic director at the Colburn School, Leslie Carothers-Aromaa; Founder and artistic director of Diavolo Dance Theater, Jacques Heim; and pioneer in reality television and executive producer of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance, Nigel Lythgoe; 4) For ballet: Former principal dancer with Joffrey Ballet, Jodie Gates; artistic director of Ballet West, Adam Sklute; and artistic director of Houston Ballet, Stanton Welch; 5) For jazz instrumental: Winner of BMI Classic Theme Composer and former music director of The Tonight Show band, Kevin Eubanks; multi-Grammy winning producer Gregg Field; and professor of music in the Thornton School of Music at USC, Ronald McCurdy; and 6) For classical instrumental: pianist, harpsichordist and conductor Lucinda Carver; Dean of USC's Thornton School of Music Robert Cutietta; and former Pasadena Pops music director, conductor Rachael Worby.

All finalists had the opportunity to work directly with renowned artists and arts professionals who provided insights on technique, training and professional life. This element of the Spotlight program is designed specifically to help participating students better prepare for future opportunities in the arts.

The Music Center's Spotlight program is one of the nation's most acclaimed performing and visual arts education programs for teens. The program has launched numerous professional careers. Fourteen finalists are Presidential Scholars, and many have joined or performed with professional companies, including the Metropolitan Opera, Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic. Many alumni return to the program and participate as judges and master class instructors. Fredric M. Roberts is founding chairman of the Music Center Spotlight Awards and Walter Grauman is creator/executive producer.

The Music Center Spotlight Awards is supported by Bank of America, Helen and Peter Bing and the Music Center's Fraternity of Friends, a volunteer membership organization comprised of prominent Los Angeles businessmen and entertainment industry professionals who support the Music Center.

As one of the top performing arts centers in the world, the Music Center is committed to strengthening community through the arts. Set in the heart of Los Angeles' downtown cultural district and home to four internationally renowned resident companies – LA Phil, Centre Theatre Group, LA Opera and Los Angeles Master Chorale – and the celebrated Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at the Music Center, the Music Center offers the most compelling, highest quality engagements. In its effort to extend the reach and accessibility of the performing arts, the Music Center is a national model for experiences in which people participate directly through its Active Arts® at the Music Center. As well, the Music Center presents special productions, events and festivals for children and families, including World City at the Music Center, and plays a leadership role in advocating for and directly providing arts education in schools throughout the County. The Music Center boasts four venues -- the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theatre, Mark Taper Forum and Walt Disney Concert Hall -- as well as a vibrant collection of outdoor theatres, plazas and gardens.

For more information about the Music Center Spotlight Awards, visit

Note: Photos are available upon request.