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2018 Grand Prize Finalists

2018 Grand Prize Finalists with Host Angela Bassett

On Tuesday evening June 5, 2018, The Music Center hosted the 30th annual Spotlight Grand Finale Performance at Walt Disney Concert Hall. This event culminated a process that began last September, when over 1,400 students participated in the Spotlight program. 

Listed below are the Grand Prize Finalists in each category.


Hannah FranklinHANNAH FRANKLIN, 17, is a junior at Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) in the Acting Conservatory. She also studies acting with Lea Floden, voice with Michael Stevens, and musical theatre at the Colburn School.  Hannah won first place in Center Theater Group’s August Wilson Monologue Regional Competition, 2018.  Roles include: Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Agate in Waiting for Lefty, Martha in Spring Awakening, and Maureen in Rent.  She wishes to thank Lea, Michael, her family, and OCSA for all of their support.  Hannah dreams of acting on film, Broadway or the West End. This is Hannah’s third year participating in Spotlight.   View Hannah's Spotlight performance.

K.J. Powell

K. J. POWELL, 18, is a senior at John Burroughs High School (JBHS), where he is a Play Production member. He has trained at Lisa Picotte’s Young Actor’s Workspace.  TV/Roles include: Marshall on Henry Danger; Young Bernard Hopkins in CHAMPS; Young Charles in First. Honors include: Center Theater Group’s August Wilson Monologue Competition, LA Regional Finalist, 2018; California Educational Theatre Association’s Best Mainstage Performer, 2018; Best Supporting Actor, JBHS, 2017; Best Supporting Actor, Biblical Films, 2016; and Best Monologue, JBHS, 2014.  K.J. would like to thank God, his parents, sisters, teachers and mentors for guiding him along his journey.  This is K. J.’s second year participating in Spotlight.  View K.J.'s Spotlight performance.


Nicole DenneyNICOLE DENNEY, 16, a sophomore honors student at San Clemente High School. She trains with Dmitri and Jennfier Kulev at Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy.  In 2017 & 2018, Nicole won the Youth American Grand Prix’s Grand Prix Award, L.A. Regionals, and Top Twelve in the New York Finals. She was also a Spotlight Non-Classical Dance Semifinalist.  Scholarships include: The School of American Ballet, 2014-2016, San Francisco Ballet and Harid Conservatory summer intensives. Roles include: The Nutcracker, Sugar Plum; George Balanchine Serenade, The Russian Girl; and Valse Fantasies.  Nicole thanks the Kulevs for her training and her family. This is Nicole’s second year participating in Spotlight.  View Nicole's Spotlight performance.

AVIVA GELFER-MÜNDLAVIVA GELFER-MÜNDL, 16, is a junior honors student at Arnold O. Beckman High School and Tustin Connect. She is coached by Alla Khaniashvili and Nazgul Ryskulova-Shinn, and trains at Marat Daukayev School of Ballet and V&T Classical Ballet Academy. This year Aviva was the only American winner of the Prix de Lausanne, Switzerland, and was Youth American Grand Prix European Semifinals, Paris, Senior division winner. Scholarships and acceptances include: The Royal Ballet School, Paris Opera Ballet School, John Cranko Ballet School, and American Ballet Theater Studio Company. Aviva will be attending Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia, in the fall. This is Aviva’s 2nd year participating in Spotlight. View Aviva's Spotlight performance


Tyler KimTYLER KIM, 15, is a freshman at Temecula Valley High School. Tyler studies piano with Myong-Joo Lee and Fabio Bidini at the Colburn Music Academy. He has performed as a soloist with various orchestras including the San Diego Symphony, Viennese International Orchestra, Alicante Symphony Orchestra, and Montgomery Symphony Orchestra. 2017 Honors include: Music Teachers National Association’s California State Title; 1st place at the Mondavi Young Artists Competition; and 1st place at the Blount-Slawson Young Artists Competition. Performing motivates Tyler to practice and strive to be a better musician.  Tyler lives with his parents, little sister, and dog, Happy.  This is Tyler’s first year participating in SpotlightView Tyler's Spotlight performance.

ANNETTE LEE, 16, is a junior at Polytechnic School. She studies the harp with Paul Baker and JoAnn Turovsky. Annette participates in her school orchestra and Bliss Youth Orchestra. She has performed with Glendale Youth Orchestra, Idyllwild Youth Orchestra, Redlands Harp Ensemble, Open Academy Youth Orchestra, and Artes Vocales. Honors include: National YoungArts Foundation Classical Music Finalist, 2018; American Harp Society National Competition first prize and Libby Larson special prize winner, 2017; Spotlight Classical Instrumental Semifinalist, 2017; California American String Teachers Association (ASTA) state competition and ASTA winner; and Valeria Finzi Scholarship competition five-time winner. This is Annette’s second year participating in SpotlightView Annette's Spotlight performance.


MICHAEL McDERMOTTMICHAEL McDERMOTT, 18, graduated early from Pacific Coast High School in January. He studies voice with Patrick Goeser. Michael participated as a high school student in the Chapman University U-Choir and U-Singers. Honors include: National Association of Teachers of Singing Classical Singer winner, 2016, and Spotlight Classical Voice Semifinalist, 2017.Michael’s dream is to sing in every opera house in the world and inspire people to love opera. He would like to thank his mother for all of her love and support and Patrick Goeser for changing his life and instrument. He will attend The Juilliard School in the fall. This is Michael’s second year participating in SpotlightView Michael's Spotlight performance.


ARIANA PRAPPAS, 17, is senior at San Marino High School where she is Chapter President of the International Thespian Honor Society and Captain of Comedy Sportz. She studies voice with Wendy Pylko. Ariana was a National Classical Singer Vocal Competition classical and non-classical voice semifinalist and a Jerry Herman Award Finalist, 2017. Roles include: Mabel in The Pirates of Penzance, Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof, Rona in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, and Fastrada in Pippin. Ariana received a Distinguished Drama Award from Syracuse University and will study Musical Theater there in the fall.  This is Ariana’s fourth year participating in Spotlight. View Ariana's Spotlight performance.



Jonah GoldsteinJONAH GOLDSTEIN, 18, is a senior at Agoura High School. He has studied music at LACHSA, Stanford Jazz Institute, Colburn School of Music, Grammy Camp, and with countless mentors and teachers, most notably with Joe DiBlasi. Jonah has performed with jazz, rock, blues, pop, and hip-hop groups in venues and clubs across Southern California. He also writes music for these groups. 2018 Honors include: YoungArts Merit winner; Southern California School Band & Orchestra Association Honors Jazz band; Ventura Youth Jazz competition Semifinalist; and Tri M Honors Society for Music. Jonah will attend The New School for jazz in the fall.  This is Jonah’s first year participating in Spotlight.  View Jonah's Spotlight performance.

Ethan Moffit

ETHAN MOFFITT, 17, is a senior at Verdugo Academy. He studies double bass with Dr. David H. Young and Peter Lloyd, composition with Michael McLean, orchestral conducting with Maxim Eshkenazy, and music theory with Kathy Sawada. Honors include: National YoungArts Finalist, 2018, and Merit Award, 2017, in Jazz Bass;  Herb Pomeroy Jazz Composition and Arranging Contest, first place, 2018 & 2017; Dr. J. Douglas White Essentially Ellington Student Composition/Arranging Contest. His composition was performed by the Berklee Concert Jazz Orchestra and recorded by the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra, directed by Wynton Marsalis; and Monterey Next Generation Jazz Soloist Award, 2017. This is Ethan’s second year participating in SpotlightView Ethan's Spotlight performance.


Jaden BarbaJADEN BARBA, 15, is a freshman at Temecula Valley High School where he serves on the Associated Student Body council. He is a member of the Temecula Dance Company.  Awards in 2018 include: YoungArts, Jazz Dance Finalist; Dance Educators of America, National Directors Award, contemporary solo.  Scholarships include: Joffrey Ballet School’s Jazz/Contemporary Intensive.  Jaden appeared on the first season of NBC's new show World of Dance with the Boys of Temecula dance ensemble. He thanks his incredible mentors Jimmy Peters and Erik Saradapon.  His dream is to go to college, dance in NYC and pursue a career on Broadway.  This is Jaden’s first year participating in Spotlight.  View Jaden's Spotlight performance.

Marcus Sarjeant

MARCUS SARJEANT, 17, is a senior at Orange County School of the Arts in the Commercial Dance Conservatory. He trains at Dmitri Kulev Classical Ballet Academy and at Westside Dance Project with Jessie Riley.  Marcus is inspired by his amazing circle of talented dance friends who motivate him to keep working hard to reach his dance dreams.  Scholarships include: Break the Floor, Tremaine, LADM, Joffrey Ballet, and Laguna Dance Festival.  He was named 2017 Orange County Register Top 10 Artists of the Year. Marcus is also a company member of BalletRED, created by Josie Walsh.  This is Marcus’s first year participating in SpotlightView Marcus' Spotlight performance.



Katelyn HunterKATELYN HUNTER, 17, is a junior honors student at Cerritos High School where she has been an Associated Student Body member for the past three years. She studies voice with Gary Matsumoto. Honors include: the President’s Education Award for outstanding academic achievement; 4th place in The Charles (Dolo) Coker Jazz Scholarship Foundation competition, becoming the only high school student to place; Spotlight Non-Classical Voice Semifinalist, 2016 and 2017; and NAACP ACT-SO Program Gold Medalist, Contemporary Voice, 2016 and 2017.  Katelyn is a lead vocalist for Jazz America which performs at the Central Avenue Jazz Festival. This is Katelyn’s third year participating in Spotlight.  View Katelyn's Spotlight performance.

Aubrey Matalon

AUBREY MATALON, 16, is a junior at Notre Dame High School, where she is involved in the theatre program. She studies voice with Kevin Owers.  Aubrey’s past roles include Wednesday Addams in The Addams Family and Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof. Aubrey has participated in Broadway Dreams in New York and Los Angeles since 2016. In the fall of 2017, she was lucky enough to be chosen for the Broadway Dreams New York showcase. She also attended a summer intensive for musical theatre at Arts Educational School, London. Aubrey would like to thank her parents and her voice teacher. This is Aubrey’s first year participating in SpotlightView Aubrey's Spotlight performance.

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