2014 Rising Star Finalists Will Compete for $5,000 at Celebration of the Arts Gala, 3/29

The Howard County Arts Council, in its 33rd year of service to the public of Howard County, presents the 17th Annual Celebration of the Arts in Howard County on Saturday, March 29, 2014 at the Peter and Elizabeth Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center, Howard Community College (HCC), Columbia, MD. Dr. Kathleen Hetherington, President of HCC, will serve as Honorary Chair. Richard W. Story, Senior Vice President for Marketing, JPB Enterprises, Inc. will emcee the event. The Celebration is a multi-faceted signature event, showcasing and promoting the arts and raising funds in support of the arts, artists, and arts organizations in Howard County. One of the highlights of the 2014 Celebration is the Rising Star Emerging Performing Artist Award Competition, in which ten finalists will compete for a cash prize of $5,000. In December, individual performing artists - aged 18 to 35 years and currently or recently living, working, performing regularly, or receiving training in Howard County - auditioned before a panel of professionals in their discipline. Review criteria included artistic merit, demonstrated experience in the arts, and commitment to a career in the arts.

The Rising Star finalists will perform at the Celebration before an audience of artists, arts patrons, business and political representatives, and community members who will select the winner by popular vote. The award will be presented on stage that evening! The ten finalists performing at the Celebration are Curtis Bannister (Musical Theatre); Leiland R.W. Charles (Contemporary Dance); Joe Duffey (Irish Step Dance); Steven Eddy (Classical Voice); Annie Gill (Classical Voice); Yoshiaki Horiguchi (Double Bass); Benjamin Lurye (Musical Theatre); Carolyn Rosinsky (Cello); Maya Shivani Thakar (Classical Indian Dance); and Trent D. Williams, Jr. (Contemporary Dance).

Curtis Bannister, Musical Theatre Curtis recently made his debut with Utah Festival Opera Company as the title role in Verdi's Otello and will return to the festival in June 2014 to perform the role of Enjolras in Les Miserables and Anatol in Samuel Barber's Vanessa. He has danced with the Paris Opera Ballet during the Company's 2012 U.S. Tour and performed as Aaron in Titus Andronicus and Assagai in A Raisin in the Sun. He holds a B.M. in Vocal Performance from Towson University and a Graduate Performance Diploma in Voice from the Peabody Conservatory of Music. Curtis is a graduate of Wilde Lake High School and a 2009 Rising Star finalist.

Leiland R. W. Charles, Contemporary Dance Raised in Columbia, Leiland first stepped into a ballet studio at the age of three with the Howard County Ballet. He has danced numerous leading roles in HCB productions such as The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Wizard of Oz, Little Red Riding Hood, and The Nightingale. He has also worked as a substitute teacher and rehearsal assistant for HCB's biannual performances. Leiland is in his final year at The Juilliard School working towards his B.F.A. in Dance Performance. A graduate of Oakland Mills High School, he plans to dance professionally and work abroad after graduation. Joe Duffey, Irish Step Dance Joe is a choreographer and instructor with Columbia-based Teelin School of Irish Dance and Teelin Irish Dance Company. He recently created his own modern Irish dance company, Joe Duffey Dance, in order to help fulfill his artistic mission to perform, engage, and create. Memorable performances include dancing at the White House for President Clinton and for Garrison Keillor's A Prairie Home Companion, among others. He won for best choreography at the 2012 Percussive Dance Project and has been featured in Irish Dancing & Culture Magazine. A 2012 Rising Star finalist, he was recently cast in the 2014 season of Celtic Fyre at Busch Gardens Williamsburg.

Steven Eddy, Classical Voice Steven recently made his debut with Fort Worth Opera as Harlekin in Ariadne auf Naxos. Other opera credits include Schaunard in La Bohème, Ford in Falstaff, and Guglielmo in Cosi fan tutte, among others. A frequent concert artist and recitalist, he was a Vocal Arts Fellow at the Tanglewood Music Center for the past two summers and has collaborated with such ensembles as The Mark Morris Dance Group, The Cathedral Choral Society, Ensemble VIII, and the Handel Choir of Baltimore. He has won awards from the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions and The Dallas Opera Guild Competition. A graduate of Atholton High School, Steven was a 2009 Rising Star finalist. Annie Gill, Classical Voice Annie's opera roles include Nedda in Pagliacci, Mimi and Musetta in La Bohème, and Donna Anna and Donna Elvira in Don Giovanni. She recently won First Prize in the 2013 Barry Alexander International Voice Competition and Third Prize in the 2013 Russell C. Wonderlic Voice Competition, among others. She has sung with many regional companies including Baltimore Opera Theatre, Repertory Opera Theatre of Washington, and Aurora Opera Theatre. She received a Performance Diploma from The Peabody Conservatory and an M.M. from Boston University. Annie receives vocal training in Columbia and teaches voice and piano in Howard County.

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