The Music Center Selects 112 Southern California High School Students as Semifinalists in The Music Center’s 33rd Annual Spotlight Program

Nationally Recognized Arts Education Program Offers More than $100,000 in Scholarships for Aspiring Artists with Performance Opportunities and Valuable Professional Feedback

LOS ANGELES (March 8, 2020)—Following two rounds of virtual auditions, The Music Center has selected 112 of Southern California’s most talented high school students as semifinalists in The Music Center’s 33rd annual Spotlight (Spotlight) program, a free nationally acclaimed arts training and scholarship program for teens. A TMC Arts program, Spotlight offers valuable performance opportunities, audition experiences and mentorship, plus technical and artistic insights taught by professional artists and arts administrators, and awards more than $100,000 in scholarships each year. TMC Artsre-imagined the program’s offerings to be entirely digital and COVID safe for the 2020–2021 year. The Music Center named 16 semifinalists in each of seven categories—acting, ballet, dance, classical voice, non-classical voice, classical instrumental and jazz instrumental. This year, nearly 1,500 teens representing more than 275 schools, 194 cities and 8 counties auditioned for the prestigious program. All Spotlight applicants receive written feedback from distinguished panels of judges following each audition round to help students improve and gain knowledge in their particular performance discipline.

Since its launch in 1988, Spotlight has transformed the lives of 51,000 high school students from Santa Barbara to San Diego by being more than just a competition. An important part of The Music Center’s fundamental support for arts learning, the program provides students the opportunity to develop their performance abilities, receive valuable college preparedness skills and gain confidence to pursue their dreams in the performing arts. Through a supportive environment, students also develop important life skills, including building self‐esteem, preparation and perseverance, that benefit the participants beyond the stage. Notable Spotlight alumni include Tony Award® winner Lindsay Mendez, American Ballet Theatre’s principal dancer Misty Copeland, Emmy® award-winning composer Kris Bowers and major recording artists Josh Groban and Adam Lambert, among many others. Recent Spotlight finalists appeared as guest performers during Groban’s first livestream Holiday concert in December 2020, which was viewed by an international audience.

“While arts learning remains under pressure in school budgets, The Music Center’s Spotlight is a vibrant program that serves an essential need. Spotlight participants receive multiple opportunities to perform in front of professional experts who provide personalized and precise feedback that other free programs just don’t offer,” said Rachel S. Moore president and CEO of The Music Center. “Spotlight is a year-long journey with a lifetime of benefits for these young students. We’re very proud that our program offers a comprehensive learning experience that nurtures young artists’ aspirations and supports the next generation of performers and arts professionals.”

Spotlight is completely free with no financial barriers to participate, which gives equal footing to kids looking to make their dreams come true, no matter their talent level,” added Jeri Gaile, director of The Music Center’s Spotlight program. “Each round in the audition process is a little different so the knowledge and connections each participant makes compound, especially as the semifinalists attend mastery classes. Spotlight is very much an exploration of artistic skills and the students’ capacity to grow as individuals. We absolutely love seeing them shine throughout the process and over the years that they participate.”

Spotlight semifinalists have the rare opportunity to attend a special mastery class in their discipline with highly regarded artists, who share their expertise on performance technique, training and professional life. Experts provide students with highly valuable feedback on their performances, offering them a rich learning experience. Each semifinalist will audition virtually again before a new panel of judges, who will then select the top two finalist performers in each category for a total of 14 Grand Prize Finalists. Judges will also name an Honorable Mention in each category. The Grand Prize Finalists will perform in The Music Center’s Spotlight Virtual Grand Finale Performance on May 22, 2021, premiering on The Music Center Offstage digital platform at 7:00 p.m.

The Music Center’s Spotlight program awards more than $100,000 in cash scholarships annually. Semifinalists each receive $300. The eventual Grand Prize Finalists will each receive $5,000 scholarships, plus one Honorable Mention in each category will receive $1,000. The Music Center also celebrates five students in each category with the Merit Award, which acknowledges students who inspire the judges by their commitment and dedication to their art form; Spotlight Merit Award recipients each receive $100.

To help students interested in applying to the Spotlight program, The Music Center launched The Spotlight Academy last summer as an episodic series of online videos and tutorials. Designed for young artists, parents and educators, The Spotlight Academy features 15 webisodes that focus on subjects related to applying for the Spotlight program as well as advice for anyone considering a career in the arts, both on- or offstage. The videos provide a deep dive into the program’s seven categories, and discuss curated topics featuring alumni and experts in the field, including Superstore actress Carla Renata, opera singer Suzanna Guzmán and New York City Ballet principal dancer Tiler Peck, among others.>

Numerous Spotlight participants have gone on to successful professional careers. Twenty-three finalists are Presidential Scholars, and many more have joined or performed with professional companies including Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater, American Ballet Theatre, Metropolitan Opera, LA Opera, Boston Symphony Orchestra and the New York Philharmonic, among others. They include Misty Copeland, who made history in the dance world as the first African American principal dancer for American Ballet Theatre; Adam Lambert and Josh Groban, pop recording artists; Kris Bowers, Emmy® Award-winning composer whose work includes the scores for Bridgerton, Green Book and Dear White People; Lindsay Mendez, Tony Award® winner for her role in the Broadway revival of Carousel and now starring in CBS’s television drama All Rise; Erin Mackey, star of Broadway’s Wicked, Sondheim on Sondheim, Anything Goes, Chaplin, and Amazing Grace; Matthew Rushing, associate artistic director for Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Yao Guang Zhai, associate principal clarinet of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra; Gerald Clayton, GRAMMY® Award-winning jazz recording artist; and many others.

Major support for The Music Center's Spotlight program is provided by Helen and Peter Bing, Terri and Jerry Kohl, Dr. Martin Balser, Marie Song and an anonymous donor. This year’s Spotlight co-chairs are Pamela and Dennis Beck and Terri and Jerry Kohl. Fredric Roberts is founding chairman of Spotlight. The late Walter E. Grauman is the creator.

For more information about The Music Center’s Spotlight program, visit musiccenter.org/spotlight or join the conversation on facebook.com/MusicCenterSpotlight/.

 

About The Music Center

The Music Center convenes artists, communities and ideas with the goal of deepening the cultural lives of every resident in Los Angeles County. The non-profit performing arts organization has two divisions: TMC Arts and TMC Ops. TMC Arts, The Music Center’s programming engine, provides year-round programming inside The Music Center’s four theatres, on Jerry Moss Plaza, outside at Grand Park—a 12-acre adjacent green space—in schools and other locations all over Los Angeles County and on a digital platform called The Music Center Offstage. TMC Arts presents world-class dance with Glorya Kaufman Presents Dance at The Music Center, free and low-cost public concerts and events, as well as K–12 arts education programs along with workshops, performances, interactive experiences and special events on The Music Center Offstage. TMC Ops manages the theatres, the Plaza and Grand Park on behalf of the County of Los Angeles. The Music Center is also home to four renowned resident companies—Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Master Chorale, LA Opera and LA Phil. For more information, visit musiccenter.org. Follow The Music Center on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @MusicCenterLA.

The Music Center’s 33rd Annual Spotlight Program Semifinalists

Name

Program Name

Home City

School

Grade

Jack Lieberman

Jazz Instrumental

Agoura Hills

Agoura High School

9

Julia Outmesguine

Ballet

Agoura Hills

Oak Park Independent High School

11

Oscar Yum

Classical Voice

Altadena

Flintridge Preparatory

10

Megan Colton

Non-Classical Voice

Arcadia

Arcadia High School

12

Bethany LeBerthon

Acting

Arcadia

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

11

Alon Moradi

Classical Voice

Beverly Hills

Harvard-Westlake (Upper)

12

Gloria Aung

Acting

Bradbury

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

12

Brooklyn Schmidt

Jazz Instrumental

Burbank

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

12

Lillie Owers

Non-Classical Voice

Burbank

California School of the Arts – San Gabriel Valley

12

Cassidy May Benullo

Non-Classical Voice

Calabasas

Calabasas High School

10

Jacob Speth

Jazz Instrumental

Camarillo

Adolfo Camarillo High School

12

Erin Park

Dance

Chino

Chino Hills High School

9

Sydney Thomas

Dance

Chino Hills

Orange County School of the Arts

11

Ethan Cruz

Non-Classical Voice

Chula Vista

San Diego School of Creative and Performing Arts

12

Lucy Cox

Ballet

Claremont

Granite Mountain Charter School

11

Julian Menendez

Dance

Costa Mesa

Costa Mesa High School

11

Fiona Poth

Ballet

Coto de Caza

Avenues Online: The World School

9

Jordan Anderson

Acting

Covina

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

12

Natalie Steele

Ballet

Dana Point

JSerra Catholic High School

9

Kaylah Copeland

Acting

Duarte

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

12

Esther Liu

Classical Instrumental

Fullerton

Fullerton Union High School

12

Adam Takahashi

Ballet

Fullerton

Home Schooled

10

Lucas Sterling

Jazz Instrumental

Glendale

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

11

Lauren Gmelich

Acting

Glendale

Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy

12

Yael Jeshion-Nelson

Acting

Glendale

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

12

Jaedynn Latter

Non-Classical Voice

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach High School

12

Jack Borenstein

Non-Classical Voice

Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach High School

12

Chloe Capulong

Ballet

Huntington Beach

Home Schooled

11

Chloe Capulong

Dance

Huntington Beach

Home Schooled

11

Shukhrat Turdikhodjaev

Jazz Instrumental

Idyllwild-Pine Cove

Idyllwild Arts Academy

11

Eunice Lee

Classical Instrumental

Irvine

Tustin Connect

12

Zachary Lin

Classical Instrumental

Irvine

University High School (Irvine)

11

Hina Tamaki

Classical Instrumental

Irvine

University High School (Irvine)

12

Allen Cai

Classical Voice

Irvine

Santa Margarita Catholic High School

10

Kevin Corrigan

Classical Voice

Irvine

Woodbridge High School

12

Emma Chen

Ballet

Irvine

Portola High School

10

Emily Okamoto

Ballet

Irvine

Northwood High School

11

Emmy Cheung

Dance

Irvine

Orange County School of the Arts

11

Ella Horan

Dance

Irvine

University High School (Irvine)

10

Emily Okamoto

Dance

Irvine

Northwood High School

11

Hana Uehara

Dance

Irvine

Orange County School of the Arts

10

Kailyn Yi

Dance

Irvine

Orange County School of the Arts

11

Tess Alexander

Classical Voice

La Cañada Flintridge

La Canada High School

11

Kangsan Kim

Classical Voice

La Habra

Orange County School of the Arts

11

Natalia Burns

Ballet

Ladera Ranch

San Juan Hills High School

12

Chase Rogers

Ballet

Ladera Ranch

San Juan Hills High School

10

Kate Lin

Non-Classical Voice

Laguna Niguel

Home Schooled

11

Santiago Lopez

Jazz Instrumental

Long Beach

Los Alamitos High School

12

Max Nguyen

Jazz Instrumental

Los Alamitos

Los Alamitos High School

11

Fengyang (William) Ju

Classical Instrumental

Los Angeles

Colburn Music Academy

11

Cole Turkel

Classical Instrumental

Los Angeles

Oak Crest Academy

12

Dominik Yoder

Classical Instrumental

Los Angeles

Sky Mountain Charter School

12

Elder Gindroz

Jazz Instrumental

Los Angeles

Hamilton High School

12

Declan Houlihan

Jazz Instrumental

Los Angeles

Hamilton High School

12

Kai Suzuki

Jazz Instrumental

Los Angeles

El Segundo High School

12

Joshua Wong

Jazz Instrumental

Los Angeles

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

12

Sophie Pollono

Non-Classical Voice

Los Angeles

Chaminade College Preparatory High School - Canoga

10

Leilani Patao

Non-Classical Voice

Los Angeles

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

11

Akira Sky

Non-Classical Voice

Los Angeles

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

12

Karina Constantinides

Non-Classical Voice

Los Angeles

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

12

Stephen Moran

Acting

Los Angeles

Ramon C. Cortines High School

12

Hannah Nordberg

Acting

Los Angeles

Campbell Hall

11

Tovah Zafrin

Acting

Los Angeles

Ramon C. Cortines High School

12

Ava Louise Winer

Ballet

Los Angeles

Marlborough School

11

Sophia Papouchado

Jazz Instrumental

Manhattan Beach

Vistamar School

10

Hannah Bogen

Acting

Manhattan Beach

Chadwick School

12

Claire Buchi

Ballet

Manhattan Beach

Chadwick School

10

Gunner Stephens

Dance

Murrieta

Murrieta Mesa High School

11

Catherine Johnston

Classical Voice

Newport Beach

Orange County School of the Arts - OCSA

12

Sydney Shepherd

Acting

Norwalk

Ilead Hybrid

12

Selena Hamilton

Dance

Norwalk

Home Schooled

11

Cielo Valenzuela

Acting

Pasadena

California School of the Arts – San Gabriel Valley

11

Alexandra Cook

Classical Voice

Rancho Santa Margarita

Mission Viejo High School

12

Mi-Hyun Suh

Classical Instrumental

Rowland Heights

Diamond Bar High School

12

Anais Feller

Classical Instrumental

San Diego

Classical Academy High School

10

Fantasia Guerra-Rivera

Classical Voice

San Diego

Chula Vista Senior High School

12

Flora Yuan

Classical Voice

San Diego

Del Norte High School

11

Rachael Hudak

Dance

San Diego

Westview High School

12

Grace Li

Dance

San Diego

Canyon Crest Academy

10

Luc Simpson

Dance

San Diego

iHigh Virtual Academy

12

Nicole Lam

Classical Instrumental

San Gabriel

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

12

Bridget Phillips

Acting

San Juan Capistrano

Orange County School of the Arts

11

Grace Navarro

Classical Voice

San Marino

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

11

Ava Kuntz

Classical Voice

Santa Ana

Orange County School of the Arts

12

Emma Reed

Non-Classical Voice

Santa Clarita

Canyon High School – Canyon Country

12

Andrew Bond

Acting

Santa Clarita

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

11

Francine Mae Peji

Dance

Santa Clarita

Valencia High School

12

William Schwartzman

Jazz Instrumental

Santa Monica

Santa Monica High School

10

Milla Moretti

Classical Voice

Santa Monica

Santa Monica High School

11

Chloe Stavis

Classical Voice

Santa Monica

Santa Monica High School

11

Matthew Thorson

Classical Voice

Santa Monica

Santa Monica High School

11

JJ Lybbert

Jazz Instrumental

Seal Beach

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

10

Allison Park

Classical Instrumental

Sherman Oaks

Harvard-Westlake (Upper)

12

Jessie Franks

Acting

Sierra Madre

California School of the Arts – San Gabriel Valley

12

Daniel Wang

Classical Instrumental

Simi Valley

Westlake High School

10

Abigail Wyrrick

Ballet

Thousand Oaks

Blue Ridge Academy

10

Mei Hotta

Classical Instrumental

Torrance

Home Schooled

12

David Lee

Jazz Instrumental

Torrance

Orange County School of the Arts

12

Kennedy Percival

Non-Classical Voice

Upland

Home Schooled

10

Kevin Cho

Classical Instrumental

Valencia

West Ranch High School

12

Christian Dorey

Non-Classical Voice

West Covina

California School of the Arts – San Gabriel Valley

12

Nicholas Kim

Classical Instrumental

West Hills

Agoura High School

12

Lulu Royce

Acting

West Hollywood

Los Angeles County High School for the Arts

11

Abigail Thompson

Non-Classical Voice

Westlake Village

Westlake High School

12

Mia Schlosser

Ballet

Westlake Village

Westlake High School

9

Daniel Bae

Classical Instrumental

Whittier

IQ Academy California

12

Gianna Pedregon

Jazz Instrumental

Whittier

Orange County School of the Arts

12

Robyn Morales

Non-Classical Voice

Wildomar

Murrieta Valley High School

12

Robyn Morales

Classical Voice

Wildomar

Murrieta Valley High School

12

Keara Nichols

Ballet

Winchester

Home Schooled

12

Chloe Kinzler

Ballet

Winnetka

Granada Hills Charter High School

11

Mallory McKenna

Dance

Yorba Linda

Orange County School of the Arts

10

 

 

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