Home > Uncategorized > Finalists Join Ranks of Superstar Spotlight Alumni Including Misty Copeland, Josh Groban, Adam Lambert, Erin Mackey & Numerous Others

Finalists Join Ranks of Superstar Spotlight Alumni Including Misty Copeland, Josh Groban, Adam Lambert, Erin Mackey & Numerous Others

Los Angeles, CA — The Music Center named 14 outstanding Southern California high school students as Grand Prize Finalists in the 30th annual The Music Center’s Spotlight program (Spotlight), a free nationally recognized scholarship and arts training program for teens.  Two Grand Prize Finalists were named in each of seven categories, including acting, ballet, non-classical dance, classical voice, non-classical voice, classical instrumental and jazz instrumental.  All finalists will receive $5,000 scholarships and appear in a ticketed Grand Finale Performance, open to the public, at The Music Center’s Walt Disney Concert Hall on June 5, 2018, at 7:00 p.m.  Spotlight Grand Prize Finalists were chosen from more than 1,400 Southern California students who participated in the year-long program.  The Music Center has awarded more than $2 million in scholarships and cash awards to aspiring performers and artists through Spotlight.

The Spotlight Grand Prize Finalists include:

Acting: Hannah Franklin, 17, Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA); KJ Powell, 18, John Burroughs High School

Ballet: Nicole Denney, 16, San Clemente High School; Aviva Gelfer-Mündi, 16, Arnold O. Beckman High School

Non-Classical Dance: Jaden Barba, 15, Temecula Valley High School; Marcus Sarjeant, 17, Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA)

Classical Voice: Ariana Prappas, 17, San Marino High School; Michael McDermott, 18, Pacific Coast High School

Non-Classical Voice: Aubrey Matalon, 16, Notre Dame High School; Katelyn Hunter, 17, Cerritos High School

Classical Instrumental: Annette Lee, 16, Polytechnic High School – Pasadena; Tyler Kim, 15, Temecula Valley High School

Jazz Instrumental: Jonah Goldstein, 17, Agoura High School; Ethan Moffitt, 17, Verdugo Academy

The Spotlight program provides opportunities for Southern California high school students to acquire the skills necessary to pursue their artistic dreams in the performing arts along with valuable workforce readiness skills.  According to Rachel Moore, president and CEO of The Music Center and a U.S. Presidential Scholar in the Arts, Spotlight is an integral part of The Music Center’s fundamental support for arts education.  “For the past 30 years, The Music Center’s support for young artists has nurtured tens of thousands of teens looking to explore potential careers in the performing arts.  With the support of the Spotlight program, these young people grew both personally and artistically and gained the important life skills they need to build their future careers,” Moore explained.  “Moving forward, we will continue to provide opportunities for Southern California’s youth to blossom under the guidance of highly regarded professional artists and identify the paths that will help them achieve their career goals,” she added.

“Our 14 Spotlight Grand Prize Finalists are both talented and passionate about their art.  They are truly superstars and represent the best of the Spotlight program,” said Jeri Gaile, director, Spotlight.  “We are excited to watch these teens shine both as they perform on the Walt Disney Concert stage and as they move forward with their careers, knowing each has the dedication and perseverance to propel them as young artists and the skills they need to successfully navigate their future careers.”

In addition to the Grand Prize Finalists, The Music Center also named an Honorable Mention in each category, each of whom will receive a $1,000 scholarship.  The Honorable Mentions include: Acting – Nick Moseley, 17, The Bishop’s School Will Parsons; Ballet – Ashely Lew, 14, Lutheran High School of Orange County; Non-Classical Dance – Aaliyah Zolina, 16, Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA); Classical Voice – Alissa Goretsky, 17, Providence High School; Non-Classical Voice – Quinn Martin, 18, Hillcrest Christian School; Classical Instrumental – Kristi Kim, 18, Laurel Springs School; and Jazz Instrumental – Aria Chais, 18, Los Angeles County High School for the Arts (LACHSA).

More than 45,000 students have participated in Spotlight since its inception in 1988.  All high school students can attend the Spotlight Academy, a free day-long series of seminars and workshops led by outstanding professionals and arts educators.  During the academy, students, parents and teachers learn about what it takes to pursue higher education and careers in the arts.  Throughout the program, students present their work for feedback before panels of judges, as well as opportunities to participate in master classes, which offer the aspiring performers a rich, customized learning experience.

Numerous Spotlight participants have gone on to successful professional careers.  Twenty 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; Erin Mackey, star of Broadway’s Wicked, Sondheim on Sondheim, Anything Goes, Chaplin and Amazing Grace; Yao Guan Zhai, associate principal clarinet of the Toronto Symphony; Gerald Clayton, Grammy Award winning jazz recording artist; and many others.

Frederic M. Roberts is founding chairman of The Music Center’s Spotlight program.  The late Walter Grauman was the creator.

Tickets to the June 5, 2018, Spotlight Grand Finale Performance are $20 and are on sale now at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion Box Office, 135 N. Grand Avenue, Los Angeles, CA, 90012; by calling (213) 972-0711; or by visiting musiccenter.org/spotlightfinale.

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

About the Music Center
The Music Center is Los Angeles’ home to the world’s greatest artistic programs and events with four iconic theatres and an outdoor plaza.  In addition to its four-renowned resident companies – Center Theatre Group, the Los Angeles Master Chorale, LA Opera and the LA Phil – The Music Center presents an international dance series, free and low-cost public programming and special events and activities for all ages.  From its early days, The Music Center has been a pioneer in arts education and offers a multi-faceted program from K-12.  With the Music Center On Location, ™ the non-profit performing arts organization brings programming to locations outside of its Downtown Los Angeles campus.  The Music Center also programs and manages Grand Park, a 12-acre adjacent greenspace, with year-round free programming.  For more information, visit musicenter.org.  Follow the Music Center on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat (@MusicCenterLA).


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